A fortnight into 2018 and Makar Sankranti is already here. Celebrated across India, Sankranti and Pongal mark the end of winter, the beginning of longer days of auspicious festivities, and yummy feasts of traditional sweets and snacks with seasonal harvests of rice, sesame and sugarcane.
The legendary origins of the festival are many. According to Hindu folklore, on this day, Bhishma Pitamah from the Mahabharata chose to ascend the heavens. Lord Krishna lifted the Mt Govardhan on his fingertips to teach King of Gods Indra a lesson.
River Ganga helped the souls of Sage Bhagiratha’s ancestors rise to the heavens and beginning the Kumbh Mela tradition.FestivitiesSo, the traditions include taking ritualistic oil baths, decorating courtyards with colorful Rangolis, lighting the ceremonial Bhogi fires, decorating cattle and flying kites. Eats and FeastsBut, no matter what the story, it’s time to feast on some mouthwatering traditional sweets and savories special to this harvest festival, in South India.Here are some traditional eats made especially during Sankranti since ancient times – Recipes handed down one grandma to the next over several generations! Delicious SweetsPongal or Payasam – Offered as naivedyam or divine food to the Gods, payasam or sweet pongal is made by boiling rice and split green gram or Moong dal, with milk, water and sugar or jaggery.
It is topped with cashews roasted in ghee (clarified butter). RecipeNuvvu Undalu – Roasted and roughly powdered sesame seeds and jaggery come together to form nutty balls of sweetness that just melt in the mouth. Grated dry coconut or copra and roasted peanut powder are added to the mix to add an extra dash of crunch. Be sure to go nutty high with these sesame laddoos! RecipeBoondi Laddu – Made with Besan (split garbanzo gram flour or chickpea flour), ghee and sugar, and rolled into balls, boondi laddo is the most common sweet offered in every celebration and festive occasion across India. RecipeAriselu or Bellam Appalu – Rice flour, jaggery cakes sprinkled with sesame seeds, ariselu are deep fried in ghee.
Prepared so commonly especially during this harvest festival, it is said it isn’t Sankranti if there aren’t any of these soft sweet cakes at home! RecipeKajjikayalu – These delicious sweets are crisp pastries of all purpose flour rolled out and folded into semi-spheres. The fillings are coarsely powdered dry coconut, sugar/jaggery, and cardamom powder and deep fried in ghee. Recipe Tasty Savory Snacks Kara Pongal – A savory version of Pongal, milk and jaggery are replaced by water, asafetida and salt, and tempered with ghee, curry leaves, dry red chillies and peppercorns.
Recipe Murukku – A crunchy snack, murukku is made with rice and urad dal (split black gram) flour kneaded with water, salt, and sesame or cumin. The dough is pressed into spirals or coils with a mould and deep fried in vegetable oil. Flat, thick, thin, starry, round, murukku or jantikelu taste yum in all shapes and sizes. Recipe Chakinalu – These round circular discs of crunchy goodness are made with flour of rice that is soaked overnight, dried and finely powdered.
Salt, cumin, and lots of sesame seeds go into the mix. The dough is shaped into coils by moving fingers along in a circular motion and laid out on cloth to soak up the water. Once semi dry these coils are boiled in hot oil. The end result, a light snack so addictive, you just can’t stop eating at one. RecipeChakkalu / Karappalu – A kind of rice crackers that are seasoned with salt, green chilli, ginger-garlic paste, curry leaves, crushed peanuts or split gram, chakkalu are the perfect evening snack to satiate the tea-time craving for a light savory. RecipeChagodi – Healthy crunchy lightly fried rings, chegodilu are made with rice flour, split yellow moong dal (Green gram split), cumin seeds, sesame seeds and salt. The dough is shaped into small rings and deep fried in oil.
These addictive savory snacks are children’s favorites. Recipe