Makar Sankranti one of the most auspicious days celebrated as harvest festival across India in different ways marks the movement of the sun towards North ending the chilly winter in the Northern States.
In U.P(Uttar Pradesh, India), where I was born and grew up, Makar Sankranti is celebrated with the onset of Ganga Sanan or Magha Mela where people take bath and take a dip in holy Ganga at the sunrise. Giving Daan/ Donations forms an important part of the Makar Sankranti festival that includes giving Til (sesame seeds), Gur (jaggery), Khichdi(mixed rice and chilka urad dal/ split black gram lentils) and woolen clothes to priests in temples and also to the needy people. A few days before Makar Sankranti my mom still reminds us to do some donations for the needy on this day!! Also, til/sesame sweets made on this auspicious occasion for offerings or to be had to keep body warm and strong during winters.
Many people also prepare Khichdi (a dish made with rice and lentil and vegetables) for lunch, along with donating it, having khichdi is also considered auspicious. It is a simple Khichdi made with ghee, hing (asafoetida), some chillies and mixed rice and chilka urad( split black gram lentils). We had it with chass (buttermilk), muli (radish) and topped with a spoonful of desi ghee. Check my recipe for Chilka Urad Dal Khichdi for Makar Sankranti. In Uttar Pradesh, the sweets that are prepared for Makar Sankranti are TilPatti/Tilkut(a sweet ball or brittle made of jaggery and coarsely grinded sesame seeds), Murmura Ladoo, and various chikkis made of mixed nuts like peanuts, almonds and sesame seeds. Check my Mix Nut Gur Chikki recipe here .
When I moved to Maharashtra, I saw people celebrating it in a different way. Homemade Til Gur Ladoos( Sesame and Jaggery Sweet Balls) are eaten after making an offering to God and also exchanged among friends and neighbours. People wish each other by saying “Til Gud Kha Ani God God Bola” in the Marathi language, which means “have til gur and speak good and sweet on the day”, Just a way to forgive and forget. Married ladies organize ‘Haldi Kumkum’ ceremonies where they exchange small gifts with each other. In Rajasthan and Gujarat, it is the festival of kites, where people fly kites all day long thus basking in the glory of Sun on this auspicious day and getting its benefits.
Apart from its numerous health benefits Til (Sesame) also has its spiritual significance. It is believed that Til seeds and oil eliminates the negative energies from the body and increases the inflow of positive energies.
Khus-Khus or Poppy seeds, like til, are the rich source of minerals like calcium and magnesium that regulate brain activity and aid in the development of neurons. Other health benefits include boasts energy levels, aids in digestion, helps to build immunity, treats female infertility.
Poppy seeds are used in many cuisines especially European countries in making Bread and Pastries. In Indian Cuisine, it is used in making gravies adding texture, thickness and flavor. Also used in various Indian sweets and desserts.
My mom used to make a chikki using poppy seeds, grated dry coconut and sugar for my sister who has a sweet tooth and loved that when she was a kid!! My sis liked this chikki more than the Mungfali/Peanut or Mixed Nuts Chikki. A few days back I was searching how to use poppy seeds in baking, I came across oats and nuts snaps/brittle that had coconut, poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds (all the superfoods packed in one bar), coconut sugar and honey. It reminded of my mom’s khus khus and coconut chikki!! While I was thinking of making Til-Gur Chikki, I thought of trying khus khus and til chikki, replacing gur with Coconut Sugar. I had Coconut Sugar that I got a few days back, for trying out in baking cakes and cookies and also in my tea and coffee, instead of white sugar. Though not a superfood it is known to be an upcoming natural alternative to white sugar. Coconut sugar worked fine and the Chikki tasted same as the one made with gur with a crunch and light texture. In case you don’t have coconut sugar or don’t want to use it, you can use an equal amount of gur/jaggery.
So let’s gather the ingredients and make this Til and Khus-Khus Chikki.
Total Time—- 15 minutes
Til / Sesame Seeds—- 1⁄2 Cup
Khus Khus / White Poppy Seeds—-1/4 Cup
Coconut Sugar/ Gur /Sugar—- 1/2 Cup
Dry roast til (sesame seeds) and khus-khus (poppy seeds) separately in a pan until light brown. Take out and keep aside to cool.
Add a tbsp of ghee in a pan, warm it a little, add coconut sugar to it.
Let the sugar melt, keep stirring it on low flame, take care not to burn the sugar.
Add honey and mix well with sugar. The mixture bubbles up a little. Keep stirring it.
Add til and khus-khus and mix well.
Take a well-greased pan and spread the mixture carefully in it. When the mixture starts to set and slightly warm cut into pieces with a knife.
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Let it cool completely and store it in an airtight container.This remains good for almost 15-20 days, but trust me this will vanish before that!!
Happy Makar Sankranti to all you there!!
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