Finally my blog has come out of hibernation and here I am with a brand new festive post. What better way to start blogging again than about something festive , something sweet . It is Makar Sakranti tomorrow and I spent most of my day making Tilgul. So much so that at the end of the day I was so tired that I had no strength left to cook and we ended up ordering Pizza for dinner. Of course that was after the Husband and the Son had gobbled a few pieces of Tilgul each.
So coming back to the festival: Makar Sakranti is that day of the year when the sun begins its Northward Journey (the Uttarayan) and enters the Zodiac sign Makar or Capricorn. Sakranti is celebrated in different parts of India in different ways. Though not a very very big festival like Diwali, it is celebrated on a fairly large scale in Maharashtra. Sweets are prepared using Til (Sesame Seeds) and Gul or Gur (Jaggery or palm sugar). Like with most Indian Festivals the food prepared is closely associated with the climate at this time of the year. Til and Gul both produce heat in the body and are therefore most apt to be eaten in Winter.
Gulachi poli (A sweet flat bread stuffed with jaggery and sesame seeds ) is prepared for lunch and is eaten with dollops of homemade thick Ghee. People visit relatives and exchange Tilgul and say "Tilgul ghya goad bola" with means "Have tilgul and speak just as sweetly" . It is basically symbolic for people to forget past differences and start relationships anew.
Maharshtrian ladies have a special ladies do in the evening called the Haldi-Kunkoo. This is a social gathering where ladies get together . The hostess gives each of the ladies a small item which in the earlier days used to normally be a kitchen item but now a days can be any useful item. This is also one festival when it is auspicious to wear black. Black sarees, and dresses and kid's clothing is particularly purchased and worn today . I am hosting a Haldi Kunkoo on Friday and therefore all the preparations. Here's my recipe for Tilgul. As usual it started first with a phone call to Aai in India.
For 30 Pieces of Tilgul you need:
1 and 3/4 Cup powdered natural sesame seeds ( first roast the sesame seeds and then grind them into a coarse powder)
1/2 Cup powdered peanuts ( again roast them , remove the skins and then grind)
1 Cup jaggery
1/2 tspn cardamom powder,
1/2 tspn nutmeg powder
1 tspn ghee
1 tspn water
3 to 4 tblspns dessicated coconut to spread on top
Before you start grease a tray in which you will spread the hot tilgul mixture. In another container mix the sesame powder , peanut powder, cardamom and nutmeg thoroughly and keep it ready at hand.
1. In a heavy bottom pan melt the jaggery with 1 tspn ghee and 1 tspn water on a very gentle heat .
2. As soon as the jaggery has melted (don't wait for it to bubble) add to this the mixture of dry ingredients and stir until it all comes together and forms a kind of ball in the pan. Keep the heat low.
3. Now tip this mixture onto the greased tray and immediately begin flattening it evenly . Grease your palms with ghee before doing this. While the mixture is still hot sprinkle the coconut all over evenly and pat it down evenly.
4. Immediately mark out the square pieces with a sharp knife . Separate the pieces only after the tilgul has cooled down completely.
5. Store in a air-tight container. These will keep easily for 2 weeks.
Happy Sakranti once again!!