Makar Sankranti is a winter festival associated with kite flying and bonfires, alongside the festival of Lohri. As the winter season engulfs, the craving for delicious and heart-warming festive treats goes hand in hand.
In the Hindu calendar, this festive period in the second week of January is dedicated to the Sun deity Surya. Magh Bihu is also celebrated with community feasts to mark the annual harvest.
Here are a range of Indian festive treats to try your hand at to mark this festive period.
To prepare, heat a skillet or a pan and add sesame seeds and peanut in it. Stir at intervals. Remove the peanuts in a mortar pestle. Allow them to cool. Add one-fourth cup desiccated coconut in the same pan and stir continuously.
Roast the coconut till it becomes light golden or golden. Switch off the cooking gas and remove the skillet and keep aside. Bring the peanuts to cool temperature and crush them coarsely. Another option is to crush them in a dry grinder. Next, add one fouth teaspoon cardamom powder. Mix well and keep aside.
To make the jaggery syrup for the Til Laddu, in the same skillet, take half heaped cup powdered jaggery or grated jaggery and 3 tablespoon water. Keep the skillet on the stovetop on a low flame. Keep on stirring the jaggery until it dissolves, and continue to cook till you come to a softball stage in the jaggery solution.
Making the Til Ke Laddu: At this stage, switch off the flame and add the dry roasted mixture of sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, crushed peanuts and cardamom powder. Mix the dry roasted mixture with the jaggery solution very well. Keep the pan down. When the mixture is still hot, begin to form sesame Laddu from it. Spread some oil in your palms to form the Laddus. If you are not able to form Laddus when the mixture is too hot, then wait for some seconds and then make the Laddus.
You can also use half to 1 tablespoon spoon for scooping the mixture and making the sesame Laddu. Then just shape the Laddus once you scoop them out.Serve til ke laddu Laddu during Makar Sankranti or have them as a sweet snack.
Preparing Puran: Rinse the chana dal first very well in water. You can also soak the chana dal for 30 minutes to one hour and then drain the water. In a pressure cooker, cook the chana dal for 6 to 7 whistles. The dal has to be cooked well. If you soak the chana dal, the cooking time will be reduced. Once the pressure settles down on its own, strain the cooked dal. The dal has to be strained well. Keep the stock aside. This stock can be used for making katachi amti which is a thin tempered dal or you can just add it to your veggie dishes or roti.
Heat ghee in a pan and add the ground ginger powder, ground nutmeg powder, ground cardamom powder and ground fennel powder. Fry for a few seconds on low heat. Add the chana dal and jaggery. Stir and let this puran mixture cook on a low flame till the mixture becomes dry. Once the puran stuffing becomes dry and thick, switch off the flame. Let it cool and then mash the puran mixture with a potato masher.
Preparing the Poli dough: In the meanwhile take whole wheat flour, all purpose flour and salt in a bowl mix well. Add a little bit of water and ghee and mix. Begin to knead the dough adding water as required. The dough should be smooth and soft. Cover and keep aside the dough for 15-20 minutes.
Making Puran Poli: Take a medium or large size ball from the dough. Roll it 2 to 3 inches in circumference on a dusted rolling board. Place a portion of puran mixture in the centre of the rolled dough. Bring the edges together towards the centre. Join all the edges and pinch them. Sprinkle some flour and start rolling the dough. Make a medium or large circle (poli) as depending upon the size of the dough and puran filling you took. On a heated tawa or griddle, spread some ghee. Place the rolled poli/dough circle on the tawa. When one side gets browned, turn over and cook the other side till you see some brown spots.
You can serve puran poli warm or at room temperature with milk, ghee or curd (yoghurt).
Dry roast moong dal in a pressure cooker until it is slightly fragrant and browned. Add the rice in the pressure cooker and wash the dal and rice. Add water, ginger and salt and pressure cook till done. I cooked for one whistle on high heat and then 2 whistles on low heat. Remove the pressure cooker from heat and let the pressure release. Slightly mash the Pongal with the back of a ladle until it is slightly mushy and creamy. Heat ghee in a pan. Once the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, green chilli and peppercorns and let them crackle for a few seconds.
Add cashew nuts and fry until they are slightly browned.Pour the tempering over the Pongal.Mix and simmer for a minute.
Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambhar.
Soak basmati rice for 3-4 hours. Drain well. spread on a kitchen towel to dry up. Pound the rice to a fine powder and sieve with a very fine sieve. Keep in an airtight container for further use. Roast the rice powder in a heavy-bottomed kadhai till you get a sweet aroma coming out of it. make sure to stir it continuously. Remove it from the fire and mix freshly ground pepper to the roasted rice powder. Make a syrup of the jaggery and water on slow flame and mix a little of this syrup to the rice powder to make firm round balls. Dust the balls with roasted rice powder.
Store in an airtight container.
Strain peeled wheat soaked in water. Ensure it's clean and isn't sticky. Heat 7 cups of water in a pressure cooker. Meanwhile, in another cooker heat water and add strained dal into it. Add salt to taste and one cup of green peas. Once the water starts to boil, cover it with a lid. Cook until 2 whistles. The water has started to bubble up in the first pressure cooker, it is time to wheat. Let it boil on full flame. After a minute or two when you see white foam forming, lower the flame and put a lid on it. Cook on the full flame until it gives off two whistles. Now on low flame slow cook it for 25-30minutes.
Switch off the flame and let the cooker cool down. Now strain the wheat and cool it off by straining with cold water.In the cooker with lentil and peas, open the lid, switch on the gas and empty the strainer with boiled wheat into the cooker. mix well. let it cook on low-medium flame. In the next process, heat a tadka pan, pour oil in it. Start with roasting some cashews and take it out on the plate.
Now add dry red chilli, mustard seeds, and when they begin to splutter add asafoetida. Next, add carom seeds coarsely ground green chillies, garlic, and ginger. fry for a minute and a half. Add finely chopped green garlic and 1/4th tsp salt. Stir. After cooking for 2 minutes, add turmeric powder, red chilli powder, clove, black pepper, cinnamon powder. Switch off the flame.
In the cooker with wheat and lentil mixture add raisins and roasted cashews and finally the tempering that we prepared in a tadka pan. Give it a nice stir and mix all ingredients well. Add chopped coriander and mix it again. Add salt to taste. Stir occasionally. The Khichdi is ready to be served.