Sankranti Sweet Recipes

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Come January,  14th or 15th every year is  a festive treat to the eyes  and the taste buds.  On one of these days, India celebrates Makar Sankranti, welcoming the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign Capricorn.  It also marks the onset of the beautiful spring season.  And the most important of all reasons to celebrate this day is the beginning of the harvest season.

Sankranti festival is of great cultural significance all over India.  We can see markets brimming with display of new and harvested vegetables and fruits, sugarcanes, groundnuts, spikes of fresh wheat, rice and jowar (sorghum) seeds.  Garlands of yellow /orange chrysanthemum and marigold flowers brighten up the market area; that marks the new beginning of yet another auspicious year.

The food attraction of the day is the special festive meals offered in pooja to the Lord.  The important thing to note is a little of all  the newly harvested grains and vegetables are used in the cooking on Sankranti Day.  No festival is complete without sweets and here we share for you, some mouth-watering  traditional  Sankranti recipes made in different parts of India.

  1. Puran Poli of Maharashtra

Bengal Gram – 1 cup
Wheat Flour – 1 cup
Maida Flour – ¼ cup
Jaggery (Gud)– 1 cup
Ground Spices from:
Cardamom Seeds – 1 spoon
Fennel Seeds – ½  spoon
Pepper – ½ spoon
Cinnamon – 1 small piece

Filling (puran) : Boil Bengal Gram (chana dal) in water. Strain the water.  Now add jaggery and boil the chana dal again until it blends well and softens. Let it cool down. Mix all the spices and grind them into a fine powder.  (you can heat them dry lightly in wok before grinding to help grind faster).  Now grind the cooled chana dal and the spice powder in a mixer to make a coarse powder filling.   Make small round balls of the filling and keep aside.

Poli (outer dough): Make normal dough by mixing wheat flour, maida flour, 1 pinch salt and water.

Make round balls out of the dough.  Roll a ball little. Give it a cup shape and put the filling inside.  Now close the filling by stretching the dough over from all sides.  Roll the ball again to make a roti.  Cook this roti both sides on the tawa by adding ghee on all sides.  Your hot and steaming Sankranti puran poli is ready.

  1. Sweet Pongal or Chakkara Pongal of TamilNadu

Rice – 1 cup
Moong Dal – 1/5 cup
Milk – 1 ltr
Jaggery – 1 cup
Ghee – ½ cup
Cardamom Powder – 1 spoon
Cashewnuts – 1 tablespoon
Raisins – 1 tablespoon

Boil milk in a bronze pot called vengala paanai in Tamil.  Put rice and moong dal in the milk and let it cook.  Keep stirring until it mashes well.  Now add the jagerry into the boiled rice and keep stirring until it blends well with the rice to give a brown colour.  Add half the ghee to the sides of the pan.  Season cashewnuts and raisins in the rest of the ghee and pour it on top of the dish.  Add cardamom powder.  Your chakkara pongal or sweet pongal is ready.

  1. Til Laddu/TilGud Chikki of Maharashtra, UttarPradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh.

Sesame seeds (Til) – 1 cup
Jaggery – 2/3 cup
Peanuts crushed – 1 table spoon
Ghee – 1 teaspoon
Dry Ginger powder – 1 pinch

Roast the sesame seeds until they pop into pinkish brown color.  Let it cool.  Boil jagerry in a pan with ½ cup water and a spoon of ghee.  Let the jagerry caramelise into hard consistency.  The test is when dropped in cold water it should harden immediately. Remove from flame.  Add this caramel to the cooled til(sesame seeds) .  Add the broken peanuts and dry ginger powder.  Mix all thoroughly .  Now apply some ghee in your hands and make small round balls of the mixture.  Your til laddu is ready.  The same mixture can also be flattened on to a plate and made into rectangular chikkis.  Make sure to cut the mixture with a divider.  Alternatively a mixture of fried peanuts, jagerry, roasted til, sugarcane pieces and puffed rice can be made which is simple and nutritious. (Ellu Bella in Karnataka)

Make your Sankranti special this year with one of these traditional recipes.

Wishing you a happy Makar Sankranti!!

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Trekking Check List

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“Lofty mountains, whispering streams;                                                                Silent woods, milky snow.                                                                                    
 Oh! boundless paradise it seems                                                                           Happy go trekking to know” 

Your table is clean; you have wound up your pending work at office and delegated the rest to your trusted ones.  Now you are off on a week’s vacation to Manali, the most sought Himalayan Winter Trekking zone.  It is quite an excitement and you are having a confused time balancing between  what stuff you really need and what you actually don’t want to clutter your trek bag with.

Well! A trek bag alone is not sufficient to pack all your things, you surely need a suitcase or a stroller bag to organise your city stuff like Casual Shirts, Trousers and T-Shirts and toiletries.  “Less luggage, more comfort” is the age old mantra for travel.  So here is a list of things you ought to carry for a trekking trip though individual preferences may be differ.  You can buy trek bags online as you could view a wide range of varieties.

  1. Light weight hooded jackets, shirts and trousers. This can not only reduce the total weight of the bag but also keep your body light while trekking.
  2. One pair of thermal wear for the night.
  3. Sunglasses to prevent snow blindness.
  4. Your favourite camera.
  5. A notebook and pen.
  6. A Big Duffel bag or large rucksack also called a trek bag to carry your luggage. While a duffel bag has compartments only on its sides, a rucksack or a trek bag is a large backpack; has many small zippers so you can organize your stuff properly.
  7. Water Bottles – 2 0r 3 to help throughout the day.
  8. A lunch box of dry fruits containing Cashews, Almonds and Figs because dry fruits can really fill your stomach fast and also keep you warm in cold climate. It comes very handy when you are hungry too. Try some salted pistas, almonds or cashews.
  9. Light weight thin towel so that it gets dried up fast.
  10. Small torch.
  11. Trekking or Hiking Shoes
  12. Warm woolen Socks
  13. Gloves , Woolen caps and scarfs.
  14. First aid kit containing plasters, crepe bandages, antiseptic creams, antibiotics, painkillers, balms, lozenges and those which are suitable for you.
  15. Sleeping bag and a mat in case you are going to camp.
  16. Small Toiletry Kit
  17. If you are a mountain climber, then you may also want to look at some climbing and hiking equipment to carry.
  18. Trekking or walking sticks

Do remember to view this check list when you plan a vacation at the hill.  Till then listen in to the voice of a traveler.