10 Traditional Indian Dishes To Enjoy During Makar Sankranti

Makar Sankranti – also celebrated as Maghi, Makara Mela, Pongal, Uttaryana – among some cultures across the country, is the auspicious harvest festival that is symbolic of the change in weather and commencement of mildly warmer days. As is a given, food prepared with seasonal or locally cultivated ingredients becomes an integral part of the celebrations. Different from one another but also indicative of the commonalities that unite them, here’s a list of some dishes that are especially prepared during the occasion.

Ellu Bella

A traditional snack from Karnataka, which is a mixture of various ingredients like black sesame or ellu, roasted peanuts, dried coconut, jaggery cubes and roasted gram. Each of these ingredients is said to symbolize something auspicious and significant, making it ideal to prepare during the auspicious occasion.

Teepi Punugulu

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This South Indian snack that is native to Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, are small, crispy fritters made from a fermented rice and lentil batter. The teepi or sweet version of the punugulu uses jaggery to add flavour, along with cardamom for aroma, before it is deep-fried to golden crispness.

Dahi Chiwda

Made using flattened rice or poha mixed with yoghurt, this Bihari delicacy is a simple savoury preparation made by soaking the rice briefly in water, before combining it with seasonings, coriander leaces, grated carrots and yoghurt. The refreshing and light snack is typically enjoyed for breakfast or served to guests upon arrival.

Tilgulachi Vadi

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This Maharashtrian preparation that is quintessentially for Sankranti due to its key ingredient of sesame seeds, the tilgulachi vadi or til patti are sheets of chikki which are flattened and cut into squares. Once the seeds are dry roasted until they become golden and aromatic, they are added to a jaggery syrup and spread onto a greased surface or tray and flattened with a rolling pin to achieve the desired thickness.

Shunga Pitha

A lesser-known traditional Assamese delicacy, the shunga pitha is a type of rice cake or dumpling that is commonly prepared during festivals. The process of making this involves grinding soaked rice to a smooth paste before mixing in jaggery and cardamom and poured into cone-shaped containers made from dried leaves. Steamed until firm but spongy, these pitha are served warm, infused with the aroma of the leaves they steam in.

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Urad Dal Khichdi

A simple and nutritious preparation of black gram lentils or urad dal and rice, this dish hailing from Punjab is commonly consumed as a wholesome meal. Soaked lentils and rice and cooked until soft, seasoned with a handful of spices like cumin, turmeric and asafoetida for added flavour. Enjoyed with accompaniments like yogurt, pickles or a side of vegetables, the khichdi is also a feature on the festive menu in homes.

Makara Chaula

Hailing from the eastern Indian state of Odisha, this special offering of newly harvested rice or nabanna combined with fresh coconut, ripe bananas, chhena and jaggery is made especially on this auspicious occasion. Said to be a representation of abundance, since it utilises fresh produce from the winter harvest, it is offered to deities and distributed among friends and family as a symbol of prosperity and good fortune.

Thalicha Sadham

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Traditional South Indian rice preparation that translates to ‘tempered rice’, the thalicha sadham is basically a toss-up of cooked rice mixed with spices and herbs. Tempered spices are poured over the cooked rice and mixed thoroughly to evenly distribute the flavours and even use ingredients like freshly grated coconut, roasted peanuts or cashews are added to enhance the taste and texture. Served as a quick meal or as part of a larger South Indian spread, the versatile recipe can be adjusted according to personal preferences.

Doodh Puli Pitha

This sweet delicacy from Bengali cuisine, that is especially popular during festivals like Makar Sankranti or Poush Parbon, is a type of rice dough pocket filled with a mixture of grated coconut and jaggery or sugar. Shaped into small dumplings or cylinders and flattened slightly, it is then cooked by either steaming or boiling. Once cooked, the dumplings are then simmered in milk and sugar, from which the dish derives its name ‘Doodh Puli.’

Ramdana Chikki

Ramdana – also known as rajgira or amaranth, is a gluten-free pseudo-cereal that’s highly nutritious and used in this special preparation made with jaggery. The protein-rich tiny grains, which is also used to make ladoos, are a popular delicacy in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Particularly ideal for those who might observe a fast during the time, it is also eaten as dessert or a snack in-between meals.