The festival season has arrived and what better way to celebrate than cooking up some mouth-watering dishes?
From Tamil Nadu's sweet Pongal to Bengal's Patishapta, this week is for those who have a sweet tooth!
The upcoming 4-5 days will be an auspicious period in most states of India, as they celebrate the harvest season.
The harvest festival has different names around the country -- Pongal in South India, Makar Sankranti in the northern states, Lohri in Punjab, Bhogali Bihu of Assam and Poush Sankranti in Bengal.
The festival is a celebration of warmer days which will be a blessing for our agrarian economy.
Families all over India will be cooking some delicious regional dishes to celebrate. Let's have a look at a few of them!
Pongal - Tamil Nadu
The harvest festival of Tamil Nadu is called Pongal and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan (sun's journey northwards) The four-day long festival is a thanksgiving to nature. Various sweet dishes are cooked and offered in prayer:
Chakkara Pongal: What's a Pongal festival without some Pongal? This sweet rice recipe is the main 'prasad' offered to the sun god. Made with rice, moong dal, ghee and jaggery topped with nuts and cardamom, piping hot sweet Pongal is a dish for the God!
Check out this video to cook up some goodness this Pongal:
Venn Pongal: If you are not a sweet lover or on a dieting mode, this savoury Pongal version is for you. Cooked in desi ghee, this dish can be made in 30 minutes and can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Rice is cooked in a new vessel till it overflows -- this ritual is a symbolic act where people wish for abundance in the upcoming year.
Have a look at a tasty Venn Pongal recipe here:
Lohri - Punjab
This is a popular Punjabi festival where enthusiastic revellers make bonfires, cook tasty dishes and have folk dances to celebrate the beginning of the harvest festival. They gather around a bonfire to offer prayers, sing, dance and throw in grains like jaggery, sesame, gajak, chikki and peanuts to thank their roots. The bonfire celebration is followed by a Bhangra dance and great food.
This year it will be celebrated on the 13th of January. The festival food is full of the goodness of ghee and butter. Check out their favourite Lohri dishes:
Sarson ka saag and makki ki roti: Grounded spinach (saag) coupled with mustard seeds is a recipe for the cold winter nights. Served with makki ki roti (roti made of cornflour), the dish is incomplete without a huge spoon of butter. High in calorie and happiness, the dish will fill your heart.
Learn how to make this terrific combination here:
Murmura laddoo: Adding to the sweet dish list is this puffed rice and jaggery laden laddoo. One of the easiest laddoos to make, this recipe can be whipped up in under three minutes. Add a dash of nuts and ghee and you are good to go.
Have a look at the 4-step recipe here:
Makar Sakranti - North and East India:
Makar Sankranti will be celebrated on January 14 and 15 in the states of Maharashtra, Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Odisha, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Bihar. Decked up in new clothes, people gather on terraces to fly kites and gorge on til ke laddoos to mark the beginning of the spring season.
This year Allahabad will be hosting the Ardh Kumbh Mela, an auspicious event for Hindus.
Check out what dish each state makes to celebrate:
Patishapta: What's a Bengali Makar Sankranti (or as Bengalis call it Mokor Sonkranti) celebration without the goodness of pithes -- sweets made using rice along with milk, coconuts and other ingredients?
The Bengali tradition of making pithes is common to both Bengals (East and the Ghoti Bangalis of the West). Made of nolen gur, coconut and sooji (semolina), this dish looks like a dosa and tastes like heaven!
Check out the recipe here:
Maharashtra and Gujarat:
Til ke laddoo: Sesame seeds are used to make this variant of laddoo which is a winter special dish. Known as til in Hindi, sesame seeds can protect you from the cold, and when combined with jaggery, they make for a great snack which also has medicinal properties.
Check out the simple yet tasty recipe here:
Lai and Dahi Chura: A combination of cool homemade yogurt, flattened rice and jaggery is mixed to make this tasty dish from Bihar. Making a bowl of Dahi Chura is as easy as making cornflakes.
Another popular Makar Sankranti dish is a variant of laddoo made of puffed rice, sesame seed and molten jaggery.
Check out the recipes here:
Assam - Bhogali bihu
The northeast state of Assam celebrates the festival of harvest in a similar fashion to Punjabis, by lighting a bonfire. Fire plays an important role in the celebration. People erect makeshift huts 10 days in advance which they burn down on the day before the festival (for warmth and light).
Everyone gets up early, takes a bath and gathers around a bonfire to feast on Assamese delicacies of laru, pitha (coconut laddoo), and mutton or duck dishes.
Learn how to make coconut laddoos here:
Well, now that you know what are the options, which one would you cook this festive season? Let us know in the comments!