In Indian culture there are so many traditions and festivals. and every festival has differennt names based on their geographical region.
Makar Sankranti is one of the most inportant festival in all over India. It marks the transition of the Sun into the zodiac sign of Makara (Capricorn) on its celestial path. The day is also believed to mark the arrival of spring in India and is a traditional event.
Makar Sankranti is a festival celebrated at Mah 1st of Hindu (Indian) Solar Calendar for the happiness of getting new crops for farmers. It also symbolizes the end of the winter solstice which makes the day last longer than night. It has so many regional names like, Pongal, Lohri, Uttarayana.
In Maharashtra, on Makara Sankranti (मकर संक्रान्ति) day people exchange multicoloured halwa (sugar granules coated in sugar syrup) and til-gul laadoo (sweetmeats made from sesame seeds and jaggery). Gulachi poli/puran poli (गुळाची पोळी / पुरण पोळी) (flat bread stuffed with soft/shredded jaggery mixed with toasted, ground til [white sesame seeds]) and some gram flour, which has been toasted to golden in pure ghee, are offered for lunch. While exchanging til-gul as tokens of goodwill people greet each other with the words “तिळगुळ घ्या, आणि गोड-गोड बोला / til-gul ghyaa, aani goad-goad bolaa” meaning ‘Accept this til-gul (sweet) and utter sweet words’. The underlying thought in the exchange of til-gul is to forget the past ill-feelings and hostilities and resolve to speak sweetly and remain friends. The importance of sesame seeds is it keeps body warm and provide good oil, which is needed as winter dried up the moisture from body.
In Maharashtra, it is normally a three-day festival.
Day 1 is known as Bhogi (भोगी), day 2 as Sankrant (संक्रांत) and day 3 as Kinkrant/Kinkranti (किंक्रांत/किंक्रांती).
This is a special day for the women in Maharashtra when married women are invited for a get-together called ‘Haldi-Kunku’ (literally meaning turmeric-vermillion) and given gifts such as utensils, clothes etc. Typically, women wear black sarees or black coloured outfits on this occasion. The significance of wearing black is that Sankranti comes at the peak of the winter season and black colour retains and absorbs heat, helping keep warm. Maharashtra is also famous for kite flying on this special occasion.Makara Sankranti is also to honour, worship and to pay respect to Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge). At the start of this significant event, there is worship for ancestors.Since the festival is celebrated in mid-winter, food prepared for this festival is such that it keeps the body warm and gives high energy. Laddu of til made with jaggery is a speciality of the festival and we call it Tilgul.
Sharing my mom’s recipe to make til laddu. I forgot to mention.. whenever my my mom made til laddu my favourite work was to make it round, for that you need supade(sup) which is used to winnow grains (the process to remove chaffs from the grains. Place all the rough shaped laddus (they shouldn’t be cold) in sup, shake it in circle motion and the laddu will get fine round shape.It was really a fun 😛
1 cup Sesame/til
1/4 cup coarsely grounded roasted peanuts (optional)
1/2 cup jaggery powder
1/2 tsp cardamom powder(optional)
1-2 Tsp ghee/oil
Dry roast sesame for 1-2 minutes on a medium flame or till it is slightly golden. Remove from the heat and keep aside aside. In a nonstick pan take ghee, add jaggery powder and let melt on low to medium heat. When jaggery melts completely and starts to boil, take some water in bowl, add one drop of melted jaggery, and see if it forms a soft ball. let it simmer for 30-40 seconds aand again check … it should hold the shape but should not be stoned hard ball. Now it’s the time to add roasted sesame, peanut powder and cardamom powder. Mix well and remove from the heat. let it cool for 1 Minute as the mixture is too hot. Grease your palm with little ghee/oil, take small portion of mixture and try to make 1 inch ball when the mixture is hot.
Sometimes laddus don’t get formed as the mixture is hot and soft. let it set for 2-3 minutes after making a rough ball and again roll it to fine shaped ball.
1) Do not burn the sesame.
2) If the jaggery syrup cooked for too long , it will start to caramelize and become hard. If you add sesame in this syrup, the laddu will be too hard.
3) Greasing palm prevent sticking. and also gives shine to laddus.
4) Mixture should be hot enough to make laddus but try not burn your palms. If it is cold, it will make difficult to form a ball shape. If mixture gets cold, heat it again on medium heat and make laddus.
5)One can use cold water to prevent burning and sticking.
6) One can use only Til/Sesame to make laddus.