Many Pranams to The Divine Lotus Feet of Swamiji and Sri Hari Bhagavan on the auspicious occasion of Makar Sankranti.

 

‘’Til gul khao ani god god bolo’’

Eat sesame and jaggery and speak sweet.

Let us welcome Makar Sankranti, The festival of happiness and new beginnings. New beginnings are always made with the distribution of sweets and some wisdom. Our elders used to infuse great wisdom through simple gestures like the distributing of ‘Tilgul’ laddus and saying ‘’ tilgul khao ani god god bola’’.

Makar Sankranti is celebrated on the 14th of January every year. This auspicious festival is dedicated to The Sun God. During this day the sun begins the Uttarayana marking the end of the winter solstice.   It is also the harvest festival celebrated in different names in different regions of India. In Punjab it is Lohri, in Maharashtra, it is called Makara Sankranti, in Assam, it is  Magh Bihu and in Tamil Nadu, it is Thai Pongal. The festivities include a bonfire, singing and dancing, kite flying, and sumptuous traditional meals.

In Maharashtra, sesame and Jaggery laddus are distributed,  also a variety of traditional dishes like puran poli, kitchadi , bhoghichi baaji , sweet tomato chutney are made. All these dishes are made from seasonal harvests and are aimed at boosting immunity and bringing in fresh energy to the system as a revival from the winter gloom. Ven Pongal and sweet jaggery pongal are the most popular festive dishes in Tamil Nadu. ‘’pongal ‘’ means bubbling up. May the hearts also swell in joy and happiness as the rice and jaggery bubbles in new pots. Let us exhale the old and negative and inhale freshness and warmth this Pongal.  As I write this I am inhaling the warm nutty smell of roasted sesame seeds wafting from my neighboring kitchen . J

We need to prepare our body and mind at the onset of a changing season.

‘’Your body undergoes an inner transformation when the seasons are changing. Your immune system is weak at these times. It takes time for the body to adjust. This is why during spring and just before the onset of winter, seasonal allergies are at their worst. If you enter a season healthy, you are more likely to remain healthy throughout the season. And this isn’t just true for physical health –it is also true for mental health. If you start a season in a depressed mood, you are likely to spend the next three months in melancholy .’’
Swamiji
The Wellness Sense: A  Practical Guide to Your Physical and Emotional Health  Based on Ayurvedic and Yogic Wisdom

Now we know the importance of eating healthy as well as speaking well during Sankranti.  I will share the recipes of Til Gul Laddu and Sweet Pongal for this sweet occasion.

Before that, we must also know why we eat what we eat. The main ingredients in Sankranti dishes are Jaggery and Sesame seeds.

Jaggery

Rich in antioxidants.

Boosts immunity

Helps to reduce PMS problems

A natural sweetening agent

Contains carbohydrates that take time to digest hence provides warmth to the body.

 

Sesame Seeds

Loaded with fiber. 30 gms contains 3.5 gms of fiber. Hence it is good for digestive health.

Contains 15 % saturated fat, 41 % polyunsaturated fat, and 39 % monosaturated fat.

Contains 5 gms of protein per 30 gms. A great source of plant protein.

A good source of antioxidants, Vitamin E and Vitamin Bs

Low in carbs, high in proteins and healthy fats.

Jaggery and sesame make a great combination of food.

 

Sesame Jaggery Laddu (Tilgul laddu)

250 gms white sesame

2 cups Jaggery Syrup

2 tsp ghee

¼ cup of chopped almonds.

( Melt 250 gms jaggery in ¼ cup water. Sieve and remove impurities before using. )

Dry roast the sesame seeds in a pan to a light brown colour and crispy. Keep the flame very low and use a heavy pan to help even roasting. It will take you less than five minutes.

Keep one cup of roasted sesame seeds aside and powder the remaining. Take a pan, add the jaggery syrup and powdered sesame seeds . Stir and cook on a slow flame. Add the ghee. Keep stirring till the mixture thickens. Add the roasted whole sesame. Mix well. Take off flame allow to cool. Make laddus . Roll the laddus on finely chopped almonds. Serve. These laddus can be kept for many days without any harm.

Sweet Pongal

1/2 cup of moong dal

1 cup of rice

½ cup of milk (optional

2 cups of jaggery syrup

½ cup fresh grated coconut(optional )

3 tsp of ghee

( I prefer to use crushed jaggery in this preparation instead of using syrup. In that case, take 2 cups of powdered jaggery )

1 tsp cardamom powder

A pinch of Nutmeg powder

Salt to taste

1/ 2 cup of cashews and raisins roasted in ghee.

 

Wash and soak the rice and dal for 20 minutes. Boil 4 cups of water and milk in a  big pan. Traditionally new earthen pots are decorated and used to make Pongal.  ( you can use a cooker to cook rice and dal ) Add the rice and dal in boiling water. Add one tsp of salt.  Cook on medium flame. Keep stirring while the mixture bubbles and gets cooked. Add a teaspoon of ghee in between to get a finer glow to the mixture and this also helps to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the rice and dal are well cooked add the crushed jaggery and coconut . Keep stirring till the jaggery melts and blends well. Again add one or two teaspoons of ghee at this point. The mixture thickens and becomes a fine blend. Add flavoring agents cardamom powder and nutmeg powder. Add roasted dry fruits. Serve hot. Hope you will head to the kitchen right now and try out these yummy dishes.

Let us make a decision to eat mindfully today .

Wishing you all a Happy Makar Sankranti. Happy Pongal.   Let us make a decision to eat mindfully.

Jai Sri Hari

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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