I love Makar Sankranti festival the most! In Jaipur Makar Sankranti is celebrated in its full galore. Before a month itself you can feel the vibes of the festival in the air. Even a small street corner general store starts selling kites. Immediately after coming back from school, kids will be seen on terrace with their kites till their mother starts calling them to come down because it is going to be very cold – after all it’s peak of winter season. Mothers will be drying up sesame seeds in hot sun for preparing sweets as til ki papdi and til ke ladoo.
Kids keep their kites ready the previous night of Sankranti itself. Gaajar ka halwa is prepared and split green moong daal is soaked previous night of Sankranti. I remember at my parents’ house we used to take bath with cold fresh tap water early in the morning on the day of Sankranti (a religious custom). Mother used to be busy with her pooja preparations and we used to wait for Sun to come so that sky can be clear of fog. I remember, once my brother, Sunny, and I, tried to fly kite very early in the morning when it was still dark. We found some neighbours also along with their kites on their terrace. But unfortunately because of fog kites became wet and everyone returned disappointed.
Sankranti is the best day to be soaked up in the Sun. Whole day family members are on the terrace. If guests or neighbours visit you, they also join you on the terrace.
Streets are also full of kids – some will be there to fly kites and others to catch the kites. Have you ever caught a kite flying in from somewhere in the sky, and somehow you guessed that it’s going to cross through your territory…it creates such a wonderful scene!! Everyone on your terrace is on full alert, sometimes including your parents, not to leave no stone unturned to catch the incoming kite!!!! And the person who succeeds in catching that kite will have a wonderful sense of proud feeling!!
Whole day will be gone in watching and flying kites, making loud hullabaloo if you are successful in snapping others kite’s string, gossiping, and munching roasted groundnuts, gazak, revadi, til papdi and hot moong ki daal ke pakode /vade.
Oh, I miss so much Makar Sankranti celebration in Jaipur, 😢 I guess I can write a lot about this festival. It is that one festival which is celebrated from morning till night. After sunset also some people fly kites with lamp, even though it gets very cold.
After shifting to Bangalore I hardly saw kids flying kites. But a few days before Sankranti I read that at some place kite festival was being organized. And today when we went out to our nearby shopping complex in Banashankari 3rd stage, I was amazed to see kites being sold in shops. Just like rakhi now there were kites to attract kids with their favorite cartoon characters like Doremon, Dora, Barbies etc. Even our honourable Prime Minister Modi kite was there.
I really hope that in coming 3-4 four years we might see sky of Bangalore filled with colourful kites on Makar Sankranti.
The main attraction of food in the whole day of Makar Sankranti is ‘chilke vaali hari moong ki daal ke pakode‘. Daal is soaked the previous night, and in the morning it is ground, spices added and this batter is used the whole day for family members and guests to have hot pakode. These are very tasty and crispy and you can have them with your hot evening tea.
Split green moong daal, green chillies, ginger, salt, red chilli powder, salt, asafoetida and water.
Wash nicely and soak daal overnight or just for 2 hours in the morning – it puffs up nicely.
Add salt, red chilli powder, green chillies, asafoetida and ginger. Without water grind it in a mixer. We need thick batter, so don’t add water while grinding.
Heat oil in a deep pan and with your finger tips take very small quantity of daal batter and drop it carefully in the hot oil. If this tiny pakoda/fritter floats in the oil, it signifies that oil is hot enough to fry. In the same way fry rest of the pakode. You can use spoon also to drop the batter in oil.
On medium heat fry pakode nicely by turning them upside down.
Take them out with a handled sieve to drain out extra oil.
Serve hot and crispy pakode with any sauce or chutney.
I had learned the recipe of shakkarpara without sugar syrup during a train journey. Yes, you heard me right! Long train journeys enrich us with lots of experiences. Usually shakkarpara is an all time favorite snack for kids, maybe because it is coated with dried sugar syrup on it. But shakkarpara without sugar syrup is a different version. It is less time consuming and hassle free from the preparation of perfect sugar syrup.
During summer vacations I was travelling in the train with my daughter Apoorva from Bangalore to Jaipur. The best part of travelling in train during summer vacation is that we find a lot of families with kids. So the whole atmosphere inside the coach looks like a nice neighborhood. Parents will be gossiping, kids will be playing together and after every short interval they will come and demand something to eat. Chess, Ludo, Snake and Ladder, Cards, drawing and painting pouch – parents carry everything over such long journeys to keep their kids busy.
And above all, the most important thing mothers do is, prepare snacks for these long distance journeys. Yes, mothers still bring homemade snacks for train travel, though you get a lot of stuff in the train itself, but you can’t beat the taste of homemade stuff, and it is safe for your kid’s health also.
So, in this train I met a couple with their three year old son. They were very nice people and I had a lovely time with them till I reached Jaipur. In the whole journey their son would come (except sleeping time) after every half an hour demanding something to munch. So naturally she offered me too when she opened her shakkarpara pack. (she had 4-5 different varieties of snacks). I liked her version of shakkarpara without using sugar syrup. So asked her complete recipe and after reaching back to Bangalore I tried and liked it a lot.
If you also find it interesting, do give it a try …….
Maida (white flour) 1 cup
Powdered Sugar 8 tbsp
Oil 1+1/2 tbsp
Water 1/8 cup
oil for frying
In a broad vessel take maida and powdered sugar.
Mix maida and powdered sugar nicely, add oil and mix the whole mixture with the tip of your fingers (oil is used to make shakkarpara crisp).
To figure out how much oil is enough, after adding oil and mixing it with maida, take the mixture in your palm and fold your palm tightly. If the mix binds and doesn’t crumble, the quantity of oil is perfect.
Now slowly add water by sprinkling it with your hand.
Because of powdered sugar in the mix, if we will add more water than needed, mixture will become very wet. So, sprinkle water carefully and prepare a tight dough. Apply some oil on the dough to make it smooth. Don’t give much resting time to the dough otherwise because of sugar it will become loose.
Roll out the dough on your clean kitchen top in rectangular, round or square shape. Cut out the rough edges. Later roll out these left out cut edges dough and follow the same procedure.
Now cut long stripes.
Once again cut these stripes into small pieces and fry them in hot oil.
Keep the heat on sim to medium. Because there is sugar mixed with maida, these shakkarpara might burn fast. So carefully fry them shifting the heat from sim to medium. Once they are fried, gently shift them into a large sized strainer (so that excess oil is strained) or on a butter paper.
Remember, this variety of shakkarpara would be very soft after frying. Let them cool down completely, and they will turn perfect crisp. I am sure you are going to love them and they wouldn’t last more than two days, because you will always find an excuse to go into the kitchen and munch them the whole day..!!