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Makar Sankranti special: Tilgul Wadi

Makar Sankranti (as it is called in Western India) marks the transition of the sun towards Makar (Capricorn) and it is a way of paying respect to the Sun God. In a primarily agrarian economy and culture, the Sun which influences all our seasons and ultimately the harvests, holds a special importance. Although most Hindu festivals come on a different day every year, according to the Lunar cycle; Makar Sankranti is always celebrated on 14th January every year (15th when the year has a Adhik maas, or an extra month added to the Lunar calendar every 3 years) as it is celebrated according to the Solar calendar.

Makar Sankranti; also called as Lohri, Bihu, Pongal, Khichari (this was new to me also) and Ugadi in other Indian states; is really a harvest festival that celebrates all the winter produce and it is a way to thank Mother Nature for this blessing.

In Maharashtra, this is the time when winter is about to be over soon, but the January days still have that chill in the air. At this time, the body requires food that gives it warmth from within, that is foods that have high calorific value and produce enough heat for the body to survive the winters. It is thus customary to exchange sweets made out of til (sesame) and gud (jaggery), both of which are foods generating heat. Sesame seeds are also a good source of Omega-6 fatty acids and several micronutrients like copper, selenium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and Vitamins A, E, Thiamine and Niacin.

When tilgul is exchanged in Maharashtra, we say ‘tilgul ghya, goad goad bola’ to each other; through which request each other to accept this til sweet, forget our past bitterness and let sweetness fill our relationships. On this note, sharing a quick and easy Tilgul recipe with everyone…

Ingredients:

3 cups roasted and roughly crushed Sesame seeds (Til);

1 cup roasted and crushed peanuts (Shengdane/Moongphali);

2 cups chopped jaggery (gul/gud);

½ tbsp Water;

1 tbsp grated dried coconut (khobra);

½ tsp cardamom powder,

1 tbsp clarified butter (ghee).

Method:

  1. In a utensil with a thick base (I used a brass one), add about a tablespoon of water to quickly coat the surface and put the utensil on a medium high flame.
  2. Immediately add the chopped jaggery to it and keep stirring frequently on the flame until the jaggery has completely dissolved.
  3. Further keep stirring the syrup on heat, until the syrup reaches a consistency such that if released with a spoon from a height, it falls off as big drops. (Called as goliband paak in Marathi).
  4. At this stage, turn of the heat and quickly add the crushed sesame seeds, crushed peanuts and cardamom powder and mix well very quickly with firm strokes.
  5. Add one tablespoon ghee and keep mixing with firm strokes.
  6. Keep a flat tray ready, greased with remaining ghee, and pour the hot mixture into the tray.
  7. Spread out the mixture quickly and uniformly with the help of a flat bowl (it will be too hot to spread with your hands) to make a 0.75cm thick layer.
  8. Spread the grated dried coconut uniformly over the mixture while the mixture is still hot and press lightly, so that the coconut sticks to the wadis.
  9. Cool just for a minute or two and cut out 1”x1” squares using a knife or pizza cutter.
  10. Separate the squares once the mixture is cooled and share with friends and family.
    sesame seeds roasted...

    sesame seeds roasted…

    Chopped jaggery

    Chopped jaggery

    Jaggery syrup, almost ready

    Jaggery syrup, almost ready

    The mixture spread out on the tray...

    The mixture spread out on the tray…

    Squares cut out and ready to share

    Squares cut out and ready to share

    Til Gul Wadi

    Til Gul Wadi

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