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.
During Deepawali or Holi festival my mother used to prepare namakpara, shakkarpara and two three varieties of sev and mixture. But after marriage I came to Chennai and later shifted to Bangalore. Here I heard a complete new name for savoury snack as, “Murukku” and it tasted really good.
I asked someone (can’t remember who it was) for the recipe and it was such a lengthy process that I gave up any idea of trying this. Later, we shifted to our own house in an apartment complex. Here once again I heard about the recipe of Murrukku and it was very easy to follow. Actually, my apartment friend Ashwini had introduced this recipe. She herself is an amazing cook and believes a lot in healthy cooking. But this recipe was made popular in our apartment by Sunitha, a nice hearted person who also prepares the best melt-in-mouth mysore pak (but that story is for another day). Since then whether it is Deepawali or Holi, I never miss preparing Murukku….
White urad daal 250 gm
Rice flour 500gm
Butter/ghee 3 – 4 tbsp
Water 1+1/2 cup (for boiling daal)
Cumin seeds (jeera) 4tsp
Oil to fry
Nicely wash urad daal twice and soak it for an hour.
After an hour use same water and boil urad daal nicely in pressure cooker.
Daal should be boiled till it is completely soft and then grind it in mixer without adding extra water. But if it is too thick and it is difficult to grind then add some water. Grind it till daal resembles a paste.
Take it out in a pan and add rice flour, salt, jeera, asafoetida and butter.
Mix everything together and give it a shape of smooth dough. If mixture is dry and difficult to shape as dough, add some water.
This is murukku making mould.
But without this also murrukku can be prepared. Make a lemon size ball from the doug, roll it on oil greased kitchen counter and shape that as murukku.
Heat oil in a pan and when oil is getting hot, start preparing murrukku and keep them on butter paper or on clean kitchen platform.
Fry murukku on medium to sim heat.
Take them out when they turn light brown and let them cool. Once cooled, fill in an air tight container. Enjoy your evening tea with crispy murrukku.
Generally in India sweets are prepared during festivals, but preparing savoury snacks needs no occasion. We can have them with our morning and evening tea or just like that for munching also.
Namakpara is one of the most easy to prepare savoury snack, and with slight changes in the dough we prepare for Namakpara can give us many varieties of snacks, like plain or rolled papri for papri chat, mathri, etc. Even a combination of different types of flours can be used to prepare them. But we will prepare those versions some other time. Today, we will be doing Namakpara with ajwain flavour.
Maida 2 cups
Chiroti rava (optional) (normal rava is also fine) 2 tbsp
Salt 1 tsp
Ajwain 1 tsp
Oil 4 tbsp
Water 1/2 cup (minus 1tbsp)
Oil for frying
Take a broad sized vessel so that kneading is easy and put maida, salt, chiroti rava, ajwain and oil in it.
Oil helps Namakpara becoming crisp. Mix it all nicely and take little mixture in your palm and hold it tight. If mix binds well instead of crumbling, the oil quantity is perfect. If mixture crumbles, add some more oil.
Slowly start adding water in it and knead it in a tight dough. Apply some oil on ready dough (so that it doesn’t dry) and keep it covered for half an hour.
Clean your kitchen slab and roll the whole dough (or divide the dough in small balls and roll them).
Cut the rolled dough vertically in long stripes.
And again cut these stripes horizontally in big or small size.
You can fry them immediately or if planning to fry later, then keep them on dry, clean cotton cloth (maybe your dupatta) and cover with the cloth so that they don’t become dry.
Fry them in between low to medium heat and and take out and keep them on a sieve or butter paper, to remove excess oil. Let them cool down completely. Fill in an air tight box and enjoy your crispy, salty snack!!!!!