Popular Sankranti treats to savour this January
A look at some of the popular Sankranti-special treats across India.
Makar Sankranti is also known as ‘Maghi’ or simply ‘Sankranti’ and is an important festival in the Hindu calendar. This festival is dedicated to the Sun to express gratitude for a bountiful harvest.
It is a day that marks the end of the winter solstice and the start of longer days. Like any other Indian festival, Makar Sankranti is incomplete without its special treats for the special occasion. Since the month of January witnesses some of the year’s coldest days, we see that the Sankranti treats are usually sweetened with jaggery and often contain ‘warm’ ingredients such as coconut, groundnut and sesame.
Try some of these popular Makar Sankranti sweets from various regions of India and keep yourself warm till the beginning of the summer solstice.
Ellu Bella – Karnataka
Ellu Bella is a dish from Karnataka prepared by mixing sesame seeds, groundnuts, shredded coconuts and jaggery. This dish is then served on a plate and exchanged with friends, relatives and neighbours on Makar Sankranti along with sugar candy moulds and a piece of sugarcane.
On this day, people in Kannada give each other Ellu bellu and say "ellu bella thindu olle maathadi" that translates to 'eat the mixture of sesame seeds and jaggery and speak only good’.
Patishapta – Bengal
The festival of rice harvest is called ‘Poush Sankranti’ in Bengal. The occasion is celebrated by relishing patishapta, one of the traditional Bengali ‘pithe’ dish. Pitheis a type of pancake that can be sweet or savoury. Patishaptas are thin crepes made from a batter of refined flour, rice flour, semolina and milk. They have a filling of coconut or khoya and jaggery. The batter is mixed in a bowl, and the filling is prepared in a pot over low heat. The batter is then ladled and spread over a non-stick pan. The filling is spooned onto the pancake, rolled up and cooked till it is golden brown from all sides.
The dish is served hot or cold, with some condensed milk poured over it.
Gajak – Madhya Pradesh
Gajak is a crispy sweet made of sesame seeds and jaggery. Believed to have originated in Morena (Madhya Pradesh), Gajak is made of sesame seeds and jaggery. Getting the perfect crunch without the sweet being too hard is a difficult task that requires time and practice to master. The sesame seeds are roasted till they are brown and then pounded till they release their oils. The crushed sesame seeds are then folded in a syrup of ghee, water and sugar. The mixture is then spread in thin layers and allowed to cool into brittle layers.
Sakkarai Pongal – Tamil Nadu
Surya Pongal is the second day of the multi-day harvest festival observed in Tamil Nadu. It coincides with Makar Sankranti that is celebrated around the country with various regional names. There are various dishes prepared and consumed with gratitude to the Sun for a bountiful harvest. The Sakkarai Pongal is the highlight of the Pongal treats.
Sakkarai Pongal is a traditional dish made with rice, moong lentils, ghee, jaggery or sugar, nuts and cardamom. The lentils and rice are roasted and pressure cooked and added to a jaggery syrup made of melted and strained jaggery. The nuts are toasted in ghee and added to this mixture along with some crushed cardamom. Some people also add a pinch of edible camphor powder to the dish.
This sweet South Indian delicacy is also prepared in temples to offer to the gods and later distributed to the devotees.
What is the Sankranti-special treat prepared in your house? Tell us in the comments.