Makara Sankranthi is celebrated for three days. The first day is Bhogi. North India is known as Lohri. The second day is Sankranthi which is dedicated to worshipping Surya (the Sun god), Varuna (the rain god) and Indra (king of gods). The third day is Kanuma which is dedicated to cleaning cows, farm animals, and farm equipment and also offering prayers to them for helping with a successful harvest season. Sweets called nuvvula laddu, sakinalu, ‘ariselu’ and ‘bobattlu’ are made and offered to family and extended families. Pongali made of fresh harvest rice and jaggery is made. For this reason, in Tamilnadu, it is called Pongal. Since Sankranti falls in winter, consuming sesame seeds mixed in jaggery is beneficial to keep the body warm. Eating sesame and jaggery is believed to take away the bad elements of the minds and hearts of people. Sesame helps retain the Shakti (Divine Energy) and Chaitanya. It is known to eliminate sins if used in drinking water, bathing, applying til oil on the body and other uses. It is said sesame seeds have a greater ability to absorb and emit sattva (One of the three components in the universe, signified by purity and knowledge) frequencies.
The word ‘Sankranti’ means the movement of the sun into Capricorn. On Makar Sankranti, the sun enters new zodiac-sign of Capricorn or Makara. Most Hindu festivals are based on the lunar calendar, making the dates of festivals change every year. But Makar Sankranti is a festival which falls on the same day every year as it follows the solar calendar. As Makar Sankranti is one of the oldest solstice festivals and falls on the equinox, day and night on this day are believed to be equally long. Post the festival, it is officially the beginning of spring. Indian summer and the days become longer, and nights shorter.
Makara Sankranthi is celebrated for three days. The first day is Bhogi. North India is known as Lohri. The second day is Sankranthi which is dedicated to worshipping Surya (the Sun god), Varuna (the rain god) and Indra (king of gods). The third day is Kanuma which is dedicated to cleaning cows, farm animals, and farm equipment and offering prayers to them for helping with a successful harvest season.
Alu Gobi with Chinese Cauliflower: A Healthy Fusion
Alu Gobi, a common vegetarian dish cooked in a majority of Indian households. The aromatic flavorsome alu gobi served with fluffy chappatis or steamed rice is a comfort food relished by kids, adults and the elderly generation after generation in India. Yet, potato & cauliflower stir-fry is also enjoyed by other nations. A little digging into the history takes us 8000 years back to South America where potatoes originated.
The potatoes journeyed from South America through Spain, Italy and reached England only in the 19th Century. Every country blended the potatoes with their very own veggies, herbs & seasoning. In between that, the 14th Century traces references of “alu gobi curry” in the cuisines of the affluent Mughal Empire. Mughals were believers of Islam with Turkish ancestry and their non-vegetarian recipes are popular till date. A wide assortment of rich spices and dry fruits came to India along with them. Drawing inspiration from the Central Asian Alu Gobi recipe, the royal Mughal’s chef impressed the royalty with meatless vegetarian curry made with potatoes, cauliflower, and exotic spices! The conjugal of alu gobi and spices made its mark in Indian vegetarian recipes. It has survived through years while the hands cooking them and mouths enjoying the lovely dish have changed.
Bandaru Laddu is also known as Thokudu Laddu – one of Andhra’s most favorite sweet. They are originated in a place called “Machilipatnam” in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. The so-called modern day Machilipatnam used to be called “Bandaru”. Hence the name Bandaru Laddu. These laddus made by pounding the fried besan murukus. In the Telugu language which is spoken in the state of Andhra Pradesh Pounding is called tokkudu. Hence the name Tokkudu Laddu. Bandaru laddu, with its striking and smooth velvety texture melt right in your mouth.
Like most cultural celebrations, food forms a major part of the Diwali experience. Carts sell sweet and spicy food on nearly every street throughout the festival, and families and friends watch the festivities or relax afterwards over sweets. Food is also a major part of the Indian identity. Children grow up at their mothers’ apron strings, watching as families come together to cook and chat. As adults, they return to bring the family recipes to life and catch up on everything that’s happened between visits. To cook Indian food is a window into what it is to be Indian, and I intend to give each of my readers that authentic experience.
Gond, also known as Gum arabic, acacia gum, acacia, is a natural gum collected from different species of the acacia tree. Acacia is most known for its medicinal values. It is widely used in treating various conditions. Acacia has a long list of benefits. With so many benefits, let’s make a satisfying laddu with it. Though it is called gum, it doesn’t stick to teeth. It is a bit sticky, but is known to reduce plaque and is used to treat gingivitis. Along with health benefits, gond has perfect crunchy texture, that it is a great ingredient to make laddus. Though Acacia gum odorless, bland, its brittle texture makes laddu unique. What a great way to celebrate Diwali.
Rava Laddu is south India’s common sweet made for festivals, weddings, gatherings, pujas. Laddu can be compared to bliss balls, truffles known to the western world. To be more precise, Rava laddu is no-bake, no chocolate bliss balls or no-bake, no chocolate truffles. Rava aka Semolina and coconut laddu is all-natural and high-quality and tasty dessert you can ever have. It is perishable. Will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks. Freshness can be extended by refrigerating and also by not using milk. Don’t settle down with store-bought low-quality sweets. Making your own laddu is easier than you think. Satisfy your sweet tooth with homemade, natural, high-quality sweets.
Dates are sugars with sweet benefits. They are nutrition powerhouse. Dates are wonderfully delicious super fruits which carry natural sugar and high fiber. A natural toffee without plastic wrap. If you are like me – not keen on sweets made of white sugar, flour, and other low-quality ingredients, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle, then meet your new BFF. Adding dates to your diet is the smart decision. With some planning and knowledge, you can safely replace white sugar with dates in several recipes. Cutting down processed sugars is tough. Scoring the health benefits, dates make your life sweet.
I am a huge fan of traditional boondi laddu’s. Because they are deep fried and then dipped in white sugar syrup, they are obviously high in calories, and they carry bad calories. Bad calories meaning it is from oil and sugar. For these reasons boondi laddu’s are not in my festival food list. Instead I started making quiet yummy laddu’s with other healthier ingredients yet no compromise in taste. They are all-natural, diet -friendly laddu’s. For those who have diet restrictions don’t have to think much to eat. Just relax enjoy the festive season. They carry healthy calories, as minerals (magnesium, potassium, iron),Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber. They are also good source of proteins.
Flax seeds are known to reduce blood pressure, hyper tension. They improve eye, kidney, skin, hair and nail health. Remember flax seeds also improves women’s and men’s health. From fitness perspective, adding whole flax seeds to your diet is nothing but adding all-natural good protein.
Laddu can be compared to bliss balls, truffles in western world. To be more precise, no-bake, no chocolate bliss balls or no-bake, no chocolate truffles. Flax, poppy seed and coconut laddu is all-natural and high quality dessert you can ever have. It is perishable. Will stay fresh for 3-4 weeks. Freshness can be extended by refrigerating.
In the state of Telangana, batukamma is the largest festival, celebrated in grand scale for 9 days. Goddess Gauri a reincarnation form of Laxmi is worshipped on the name of Bathukamma. Of course, no celebration in any culture would be complete without food. 5 or 9 types of naivedyam (prasadam) called saddulu is offered to Goddess Gouri on the 9th day. Shown in the picture are Nimmakaya saddi, Nuvvula saddi, karivepaaku saddi, Palli saddi, perugu saddi and minappappu saddi. For those who don’t know the Telugu language, they are lemon rice, sesame seeds rice, curry leaves rice, peanut rice, curd rice, and black gram (urad dal) rice.
In the state of Telangana, monsoon rains starting in June till October, bring plenty of water into the lakes, rivers. Many colorful flowers as gunugu, tanged, banti, chamanti bloom everywhere. Women arrange these flowers in a tower shape in a plate called batukamma. Groups of women sing and dance around the batukamma. The festival begins 9 days before the Saddula Bathukamma which falls two days before Dussera. Women sing and dance all 9 days and immerse batukamma them in near by lake or pond. On the last day of 9 days of batukamma, men bring huge quantities of flowers and women make huge batukkammas. Large group of women gather, sing and dance around batukamma.