Sunday, January 4, 2015


The celebrations generate a lot of bonhomie as family and friends sit around the bonfire, singing, dancing and praying for prosperity, while making offerings of peanuts, jaggery, popcorn, beaten rice and Sesame seed gajak to the rising flames. 
Northern January is immensely cold, there’s fog and everything seems rather at a standstill but one thing brilliant about nature is that the fields look promising and is a good enough reason to celebrate as it is also the resting period before the cutting of crops. It is also customary to celebrate this festival with pomp and joy for newlyweds; houses blessed with a newborn baby or in fact any happy event in the family. For agriculturists it is also the beginning of a new financial year. It sure is enticing to find an apparent wave of activity going on amongst People for Lohri celebrations- the long-awaited bonfire festival, which is celebrated on the 13th of January every year. Interestingly at the same time “Pongal” is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, “Bihu” in Assam, “Bhogi” in Andhra Pradesh “Sankranti” in Karnataka, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh and “Utraan” in Gujrat.
“De Mai Lodi, Jeeve teri Jodi”, “ Sundar munderiya ho. tera kaun vichara ho. Dulha bhatti waal aho…”etc can be heard in the morning on Lohri day as it’s a ritual for children to demand “Lohri” from elders in the form of money, sweets, peanuts, Gajak, Sesame seed Rewadi, popcorn, jaggery etc. Interestingly “ Dulha Bhatti Waala” was the Punjabi Robin Hood and that is the reason children sing his praises as a custom on Lohri as he was also known to have saved the life of a girl and giving her in marriage as his own sister”. The main event in the evening is making of a huge bonfire, which is symbolic of the homage to the Sun God for bringing in warmth around which people sing and dance and throw puffed rice, Lohri related sweets etc. in the fire that sanctifies one’s endeavor for a good life on the one hand and destroys evil spirits on the other.
Like every year we will light a bonfire in front of our house and gather around the rising flames, and throw munchies into the fire, singing folk songs with the family after which we’ll have our traditional dinner of makki-ki-roti and sarson-ka-saag. Here is a recipe that I learnt from my mother and she feels it’s so much easier these days…thanks to the KitchenAid Diamond Blender at home.
Serves- 4 portions
Mustard leaves: 1 Kg; Spinach: 250 Gms; Methi: 100gms; Bathua: 50 Gms; Green chilies: to taste; Ginger: 40gms; Garlic: 25 Gms; Salt: to taste; Makki Ka Atta: 20 Gms (as reqd): Red chilli powder: to taste; White Butter: 250 Gms; chopped Onions: for tempering; Juliennes of ginger: for tempering.
] Clean, wash and roughly chop leaves and the tender stems.
] In the KitchenAid Diamond Blender roughly chop 2/3rd of the ginger, garlic and green chilies.
] Put all the leaves and the ginger, garlic, green chili paste in a handi or pressure cooker and simmer until tender.
] Remove and drain excess liquid if any and keep aside. Little by little put the drained vegetables in the KitchenAid Diamond Blender coarsely puree it. (But make sure not to make the puree too thin).
] Return the pureed vegetables in the handi/pressure cooker and add red chilli powder and makki ka Atta with the drained water, (you may add some butter too) slowly and steadily and keep cooking on slow fire, stirring occasionally till it stops bubbling. Adjust seasoning. Remove from fire.
] For the tempering in a pan melt butter, add onions & ginger juliennes and when done pour over the simmering saag and have it with makki di roti.