The timeless taste of traditions



The Lohri Harvest Festival, which falls on January 13, kicks off the long list of celebrations in India. Marked by the lighting of a bonfire, song and dance to folk tunes, the festival also commemorates the story of Dulha Bhatti (popularly known as Robin Hood of the Punjab) of marrying two daughters, Sundari and Mundari asking people to donate jaggery and cereal for the wedding. On this day, children visit homes in their neighborhood and sing Sunder Mundriye Ho, a folk interpretation of this tale. As the country braces for muted celebrations amid the borders of Covid-19, food becomes the most important aspect of the festival. So, take a look at the traditional delicacies that make up the Lohri ki thaali, which you can dig.

Sarson ka saag

It is customary to consume seasonal foods on this day and as a result sarson ka saag becomes a staple on the menu. “This delicacy requires great precision to obtain the right taste. Mustard greens and spinach are blanched and cooked uncovered because green vegetables contain volatile acids that must be able to escape, otherwise the green vegetables lose their color and become bitter. You can add a baby turnip, a small radish or a carrot for variety, ”says Rajesh Singh, executive sous chef, Taj Mahal, New Delhi.

Makkai Roti

Sarson ka saag without the rustic makki di roti (cornmeal flatbread) is simply unimaginable. Topped with a generous amount of Desi Ghee, along with whole green chillies and masala gud, this combination is a classic. “To avoid breakage (by drying out), the corn roast should be rolled out with wet hands or you can use wet silver foil, butter paper, polythene paper to squeeze it with your hand. You can make it sweeter by adding ghee while kneading the flour. My grandfather would add chopped onion, chili, chopped radish leaves and grated radish into the batter for a fresh flavor, ”shares Chef Navneet Singh, Executive Chef of Welcomhotel Amritsar.

Gajak

Prepared with jaggery, peanuts and sesame seeds, gajak is a well-known dessert or confectionery. There are varieties of gajak such as gud-til gajak, til-rewari gajak, khas gajak, and til-mawa gajak which are prepared on this day. “Experimental versions of gajak and rewari with infusions of chocolate, sea salt caramel and even whiskey are becoming more and more popular in the market,” Rajesh informs.

Rewri, Tilgul, Til ke laddu, Til Bhugga, Chikki, Til baati are prepared with jaggery and sesame seeds. (Shutterstock)

Til bhugga

The term Lohri is believed to come from the word ‘Tilohri’ i.e. ’til’ (sesame) and ‘rorhi’ (gur). Hence, these form the main ingredient of many dishes and sweets prepared during this festival. One such item is til bhugga, which is a sweet dish made from sesame seeds and khoya. “The bonfire is called bhugga and the candy is named after it. As you prepare them, keep in mind that the proportion of sesame, sugar and Khoya should be 1: 2: 2. Sesame seeds must be dry roasted and ground, ”explains Navneet.

Khajoor

Made from flour and ghee, this miniature version of ghewar is the epitome of weddings and festivities in Amritsar. “It’s made by frying flour in ghee. During Lohri’s prep week, you would see live stores for everyone to see, get seduced, and buy. It’s a candy that travels well. And he did, in the past, from the alleys of Amritsar to the houses of Lahore. However, it now remains private for the people of Amritsar, ”says Navneet.

Pinni Ke Laddoo

Known as the special Lohri laddoo. Made with whole wheat flour, dried fruits, dry grated coconut, lots of clarified butter, almonds, and edible gum, gud ka boora or khaand is typically used as a sweetener for this. “Besides the traditional varieties, people are now experimenting with chia, melon, sunflower and flax seeds to make rewari, gajak and pinnis,” says Anand Panwar, executive pastry chef, Roseate Hotels & Resorts.

This immunity boosting food is made with Punjabi masalaewala gud.

Spicy Jaggery Halwa

Considered a food that boosts immunity, this shiny and creamy halwa is made with Punjabi masale wala gud.

Ingredients:Semolina: 1 ½ cup Bengal gram flour: ½ cup Clarified butter (Ghee): 1 cup Flaked almonds: 1 tsp. melon seeds: 1 tbsp. Milk: 1 tbsp.

Method:Add the grated spicy jaggery to the water in a deep saucepan. After bringing to a boil, add the milk. You will find dirt floating on top of the syrup. Discard the foam using a ladle. Filter the syrup after thickening through the muslin. Heat the ghee in a non-stick kadai, the semolina and the Bengal gram flour. Continue to stir it over medium heat. Once it has reached a light golden color and you can smell the aroma of cooked semolina and Bengal gram flour, add the flaked nuts and melon seeds. Leave to cook for a few seconds. syrup and stir it continuously until it becomes thick. Serve the halwa piping hot, garnished with slivered / chopped nuts and rosebuds.

By Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Ruchika Garg writes on Art and Culture, for the daily Entertainment & Lifestyle supplement, HT City
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