Makar Sankranti marks the arrival of spring and the beginning of festivals through the year ahead. Memories of kite flying across the gully, gorging on special homemade snacks, celebrating winter with friends and relatives – all speak of Sankranti.
The strongest memories are probably related to food and especially the sesame-jaggery combination. Thanks to the cultural diversity in our country, each celebration has a list of numerous recipes to taste and enjoy. Here is a list of Sankranti special items prepared across different regions.
1. Tal ni Sukhadi
This is a speciality from Gujarat where Makar Sankranti or Uttarayan is celebrated with great fervour. The internationally famous kite festival brings people from all over the world to experience and celebrate this colourful event. This is also the time to munch on goodies that comprise of sesame seeds and jaggery and widely known for its sweets, tal ni sukhadi is just another delicacy from the state’s culinary treasure trove.
Sankranti is synonymous with til-gud in Maharashtra where the celebrations are held along with the tradition of Haldi Kumkum. Married women mark the festivities with gatherings and exchange of turmeric and vermilion along with gifts and this sweet. The til-gud laddoos are offered with a greeting – “Til-gud ghya aani god-god bola” which is indicative of maintaining good relations while sharing this delicacy.
3. Til Vadi, Til Papdi or Til Patti
A relatively flatter version of barfis, til vadi comes with all the goodness of white sesame seeds, jaggery and crushed peanuts. All Maharashtrian homes start prepping up for this crunchy delicacy much in advance with washing and drying out kilos of sesame seeds. Owing to the thinness and the flatness of this sweet, til papdi and til patti are other names by which it is known in North India.Til Chikki
4. Til Chikki
Quite hard to bite on and crunchy to munch on, til chikki is made from chikki gud which is a special type of jaggery that hardens when cooled down. Rich in proteins and iron, apart from the combination of sesame seeds and jaggery the best part about til chikki is that it lasts longer and serves as a healthy snack when hunger calls.
Traditionally a North Indian speciality, rewari is known for its small and elongated shape apart from the rose flavoured delightfulness. The skill required in rolling these rewaris to a desired shape, when the sesame-jaggery mixture is still hot, is a combination of experience and the sheer joy of making these for the festivities. Rewaris from Meerut are a must-try and come in other flavours apart from rose.
6. Til ke Gajak
A classic North Indian Sankranti special, gajak calls for a special mention because of the unique texture and lightness it exhibits. Sesame seeds, sugar and ghee are brought together to create this delicate and brittle gajak. Hints of cardamom powder add a flavour to the crunchy bites. Gajak from Morena in MP are most famous, followed by Gwalior. These can be made with jaggery, dry fruits and different sweet spices. Interestingly, Persian style rose flavoured gajak exists too.
7. Til Barfi
Til barfi is probably the softest version among the entire list of sesame delicacies. The seeds are roasted till aromatic, ground and mixed in a sugar syrup to be cooled into barfis later. In Uttar Pradesh and a few other North Indian states, mawa or reduced milk is added to this barfi. Crushed peanuts are also widely added since the combination of all these works best to keep warm during winters.
8. Til-Gulachi Poli
This is an absolute not-to-miss delicacy from Maharashtra consumed during Sankranti. A good variation apart from til-gud laddoos, soft rotis are stuffed with a delicious mixture of sesame seeds, peanuts and jaggery powder that is flavoured with sweet spices. An option of adding grated coconut to this mixture brings out a balance of other flavours very well. Hot and off the pan, the polis can be best consumed with an additional topping of ghee or butter.
9. Kurmura Laddoo
One of Punjab’s biggest festivals, Lohri marks the celebrations with pujas, offerings, folk songs and dance. Exchanging Lohri goodies is equally special and if an interesting folklore is to be believed, sesame seeds are of importance as people believed that the nights get shorter ahead of this day by the size of one sesame seed every day! Among other delicacies, kurmura laddoo is prepared for Lohri which mainly comprises of puffed rice, peanuts, jaggery and coconut. Crunchy on the outside, these laddoos bring out a delectable combination of sweet-salty flavours.
10. Makar Chaula
Orissa celebrates the harvest festival and Sankranti with a special dish – makar chaula or makar chawal, which is made only from fresh produce. Rice, jaggery, coconut and bananas are the main ingredients with an additional option of sesame seeds seasoning. The semi-liquid dish does not require cooking and has rice from the fresh harvest of the season.
Celebrate the festival by choosing from a delectable fare that includes delicacies made of sesame, jaggery, black gram and more regional goodies from Gujarat and Rajasthan – all here at Holachef!