Every new year, Lohri signals the start of the festival calendar. Celebrated as Makar Sankranti in West Bengal and Maharashtra, and Pongal across South India, the festival marks the harvesting season. Sesame seeds and jaggery are the stars of most of the meals prepared during this festival, since both ingredients are known to warm you up and make for perfect winter foods.
This is also a time when regional delicacies — which have over time turned into comfort food — are dressed up. In south India, a sweet version of Pongal, a simple rice and lentil meal — which is otherwise eaten as a savoury breakfast dish — is an extravagance, cooked with a generous amount of ghee, cashew nuts and, of course, jaggery. Maharashtra rings in Makar Sankranti with Til Gud Laddoo — which is made using both Til and Gud. Revri is yet another popular sweet that uses both til and gud and is made across Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.
Not all dishes cater to the sweet tooth though. Punjab celebrates Lohri with a mind boggling number of dishes cooked with corn — with Makke Di Roti sprinkled with til being the most popular of the lot. Here are some authentic Lohri recipes from chef Milan Gupta’s kitchen at Oye Kake in Mumbai.
Gud Makkhan Di Roti
Whole wheat flour — 500g
Oil — 100g
Water — 150ml
Jaggery (gud) — 150g
White butter — 50g
*Prepare the dough with whole wheat chakki atta, oil and water, and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
*Divide into small equal portions.
*Grate jaggery and put on a flattened dough ball.
*Next, roll up the flatted dough with jaggery on top, make a spiral of the roll and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
*Now flatten and roll the spiral into disks and cook on a tawa or oven/ tandoor.
*Serve with a large blob of white butter.
Palak Corn Ki Sabzi
Spinach — 1kg
Corn Kernels — 200g
Chopped ginger — 15g
Garlic chop — 15g
Chopped green chilli — 10g
Chopped onion — 150g
Chopped tomato — 100g
Deggi chilli powder — 15g
Garam masala powder— 10g
Kasuri methi powder — 5g
White butter — 50g
Salt — To taste
*First blanch, cool and puree fresh palak leaves and boil the corn kernels.
*In a pan, add butter and sauté the chopped garlic, ginger and green chillies until they release an aroma.
*Now add chopped onions and sautee till light golden. To it, add chopped fresh tomatoes ( one tomato to two onions).
*Add powdered spices — red deggi chilli, garam masala and kasuri methi.
*Add spinach puree and sautee till it starts to simmer. Now add corn kernels.
*Once nicely tossed together, add salt to taste, and garnish with a blob of white butter.
Popcorn — 500g
Jaggery — 200g
Oil — 25ml
*Melt dark, organic jaggery in a pan on very slow heat and put aside (keep it warm so it doesn’t harden).
*In a dry pan (with lid), add a spoon of oil and heat.
*Add dried corn kernels and toss quickly, and cover with a lid. You will hear the popping sounds.
*Once the popping slows down, take the lidded pan away from the fire, add the melted jaggery, and toss with a wooden spoon.
*Allow the popped corns to settle for a minute, then serve.
Oye Kake – the vegetarian authentic Amritsari restaurant at Kamala Mills, Lower Parel and Fort with its “Lohri Special thaali” from 11- 16 January.