January is a busy month for Indians. In the north, Punjabis perform Bhangra and Gidda around a zesty bonfire to bring in Lohri, a festival that marks the end of the winter solstice. In the south, Tamilians mark Mattu Pongal by adorning their cattle, feeding them pongal and worshipping them for their role in agriculture. And all over India, people celebrate Makar Sankranti, the harvest festival, by preparing sweet treats, wearing new clothes, flying kites and paying homage to the Gods. But regardless of which festival you use as an excuse, these recipes will leave you with an all new appreciation for Indian cuisine:
This savoury variation of the better known sweet pongal makes for a quick breakfast. The recipe might remind you of khichdi but the use of cashews and ginger make this a richer indulgence.
Til Gud Laddoo
Not only are sesame and jaggery laddoos easy to make and delicious to have, they are also great for your body during the winter season. The recipe also uses coconut, cardamom and groundnuts.
Sooji ka Halwa
Resplendent with the richness and flavour of pure ghee, this classic semolina-based Indian dessert is a must-try. Also called rava sheera, you can even have it for breakfast.
Gur ka Paratha
Gur Lachhadar Paratha is a layered Punjabi delicacy that makes for a wonderful change to plain parathas. Enjoy it with yoghurt and any sabzi.
Not all festive dishes involve long hours in the kitchen. These laddoos made of puffed rice have just three ingredients and are ridiculously easy to make. The best part- you can store them for a long time.
Sarson ka saag
With three different types of greens, sarson ka saag (which is spoken in the same breath as makkai ki roti) is a must-have during the cold months. Seema's recipe is the most authentic one you will find.
We just can't seem to get enough of sesame seeds in January, can we? The Middle-Easterns have a similar obsession with til and why not - it's so creamy and flavourful when turned into sweets.