We all know that January is the first month of the English calendar, a month when all of us are geared up to bring in the new year with new goals, resolutions and lots of plans for the rest of the year.
In the Hindu calendar it is the month of Paush and it brings with it an auspicious harvest festival-Makar Sankranti. Different parts of India celebrates this harvest festival with different names, in Punjab it is called Lohri, in Tamil Nadu it is called Pongal, in Gujrat it is called Uttarayana, in Maharashtra it is called Markar sankranti etc. It is celebrated on the 14th of January, but this year it happens to be celebrated on the 15th. It is the harvest festival and all the new harvest crops are worshipped and shared. In Maharashtra, sesame seeds or Til and Jaggery or Gul that is made of the sugarcane is offered to the gods and shared with others in the form of sweets made of it. TilGul is given to all the family members and also distributed. The other harvest crops worshipped include green peas, carrots, sugarcane, ber, wheat, beans etc. In my house I have seen mother keeping all these crops along with tilgul as offerings or Prasad to the gods. Maharashtrian households do Makar Sankranti Haldi kumkum, a custom to invite married ladies and distribute these goods as ‘oti’ along with TilGul. The tilgul ladoo or laddu is very yum and it is very difficult to stop oneself from eating more than one. Both the til and gur are good for consumption in the winter season. Til is a good source of protein, and also rich in fibre , calcium, and iron. It is also used to make chutneys so that one can consume Til in our diet on a daily basis.
I have grown up eating tilgul delicacies that my mother made, she is an expert cook and a great foodie. I salute her enthusiastic spirit, is always lively, energetic, and ever ready to feed us her delicacies. Today on the occasion of Makar Sankranti I am sharing one of my aai’s (mother) recipe that I have grown up eating, always loved these puris, a grab it and munch along food relished so fondly during the Sankrant time. She would make lots of TilGul ladoos and we would happily finish it within no time.
On the day of Makar Sankrant, these puris called Satorya would be part of an elaborate vegetarian lunch menu that my aai cooked. With changing meal patterns and new eating habits some of the traditional recipes are not cooked, either due to lack of time and interest and hence no inclination to cook time-consuming recipes or either not much relished by the kids. This also becomes the reason that the recipe needs to be documented and saved so that it is not forgotten and the next generation has it handy whenever they are celebrating Sankranti and preparing traditional recipes at home.
Satorya: This is a Marathi word, a traditional marathi recipe specially made on the auspicious Makar Sankranti day. These are Puris made with a filling of TilGul. Mother used to deep fry the puris, and I too have done the same. I have modified the recipe to my specification and taste, it might differ from the original recipe, but then each household and each cook has their own unique preparation style.
INGREDIENTS: (These portions should be increased if making for more than 4 persons. Adjust the sweetness as per taste as the jaggery used might differ and hence the resulting sweetness)
For the Filling: Sesame Seeds: 1/2 Katori (50gm)
Jaggery : 1/2 Katori (50gm)
Desiccated coconut: 1 Tbsp
Cardamom powder: 1 Tsp
Almond slices: 1 Tbsp (optional)
For Puri: Refined Flour: 150 gm (We can substitute half with whole wheat flour as I have done)
Oil: 1 Tbsp
Salt: A pinch (Optional, though I do not add)
Oil for frying: 200 gm
Note: I have used Jaggery that was a bit old and hence the dark color. Preferred would be the Kolhapur Jaggery which is bit sticky.
Dry roast the sesame seeds in a frying pan, take care not to burn them. The roasting time of the sesame seeds and the color of the Jaggery decides the color of the filling. Remove from pan and cool, then grind them coarsely in the mixie pot.
Grate the gur/Jaggery or mash it with hand so that all the lumps are removed.
Mix the powdered Til with the gur so that it becomes one even mixture. Add the coconut and almonds and cardamom powder and mix evenly. Use this as the filling.
Take the refined flour in a bowl and pour 1 Tbsp oil and mix it. One could also add ghee instead of oil. Add little quantity of water and make a stiff dough, cover and keep aside for sometime.
Taking lemon-sized dough balls roll out a circular shaped big chappati and cut small circular puris using cookie cutter. One could make different shapes or make medium-sized individual puris. I have experimented with the size, you all do not have to do so.
Spoon the filling on top of one puri, apply water at the edges and then place another puri over it and press at the edges firmly. Pressing the edges firmly prevents the filling from leaking in the oil while frying it. Stuff all the puris with filling and keep them ready for deep frying later.
Heat oil in a kadai on the gas stove and deep fry all the puris till they are crispy, keeping the gas flame on medium.
I have used small puris so that the one can finish it in one or two bites. Traditionally aai would make bigger puris, they looked good in the thali that was filled with all the lunch dishes made on this special Sankranti day. Here I experimented with the puri size, one could make it as per choice.
Wishing you all a Happy Makar Sankranti, and giving you the tilgul on this Makar Sankranti day and saying like one says in Marathi in Maharahtra, India-”TilGul ghya ani goad goad bola”.