Singhar Ji Mithai is typically made with sev. Photo: Alka Keswani
India, a land of festivals, entices the world to celebrate life each day. For Indians, festivals not only act as a medium to connect with their culture and traditions but also to establish and nurture a bond with the Mother Nature. So while festivals like Guru purab, Eid and Diwali evoke religious sentiments, those like Durga puja, Shitla Ashtami, Navratri make us bow down to women power. National festivals invoke patriotic feelings, while observing Ekadashi, Amavasya or Poornima fasts proves our belief in power of the moon and Chath festival is to acknowledge the importance of Sun.
Agriculture was/is considered as a backbone of Indian economy and hence we celebrate agrarian festivals associated with every progression right from the ploughing to harvesting. Moving across the length and breadth of our country, we realize that harvest festivals are an integral part of our culture. Onam, Pongal, Baisakhi, Bihu, Lohiri, Nuakhai; the harvest festivals with different names but a single motive i.e. to thank Mother Nature for her kindness and for the bounty of crops.
Certain festivals are meant to bring families, friends and neighbors together and bask in the happiness derived in praying, fasting, feasting and dancing together like Ganesh chaturthi, Janmashtmi, Ramzan, Chaliha Sahib Etc. The exuberance, the enthusiasm in the air, laughter and giggles, colorful clothes, ambrosial food, excited kids, complacent grandparents, exhausted but happy elders, the whole experience creates so many beautiful memories that we cherish all our lives.
Then there are festivals to celebrate relationships. Karwa chouth and Teej are believed to strengthen bonds between husband and wife while Raksha bandhan and Bhai dooj are synonymous with the love and affection between a brother and sister who could be biologically related or emotionally.
Every year I accompanied my mother to visit our maternal grandparents, uncle and Aunts, on Raksha bandhan day and watch with awe as my mother tied those brittle red threads woven together, on the wrists of my maternal uncles, who, with head covered with a handkerchief, waited for their turn and then beamed with joy when their sister applied a vermillion tika and fed them Mithai. My mamas (maternal uncles), with great pride would gift her something as a token of love. In absence of a biological brother, I and my siblings tied Rakhis to either cousins or boys in neighborhood. Also, my Bua (father’s sister) visited us to tie rakhi to her brother.
With passage of time, the rituals kept changing and my ailing mother could no longer travel to meet her siblings and neither could they. Cousins got busy with their lives and commitments, and the new neighborhood was devoid of any such emotional bonding. Now my mother and some of her brothers are no more and agonising void thus created, is difficult to deal with, but then, the show must go on.
Now I try to cook/bake something special every year for my hubby and son to celebrate the day with their respective cousins. In India, festivals call for Mithais or anything sweet and though shops are laden with sweets of every color, shape and texture, nothing expresses your emotions better than a homemade sweet. And if it is something that is ridiculously simple to make, really affordable and sinfully delicious then why opt for sugar loaded, artificially colored and probably adulterated store bought sweets? Try this recipe now; you can thank me later ;-)
Recipe for Singhar Ji Mithai
Every Sindhi’s favourite sweet, Singhar ji mithai or Sev barfi, is made from unsalted gram flour strings cooked with sugar syrup and mawa.
Feeka sev (Unsalted sev), thicker than Nylon sev 250 gm
Feeka (unsweetened) mawa 250 gm
Sugar 250 gm
Water 1 1/2 cup
White rose essence just few drops
Yellow food color two pinches if using powder form, or else few drops if liquid colour is used (optional)
Almonds /non salty pistachios or varq (thin edible silver foil sheet) for garnishing
In a thick bottomed pan take approximately one and half cup of water and add sugar.
Heat it and mix properly till sugar melts.
Now add yellow colour, if using, along with sev and mix gently, taking care not to mash the strings.
Add unsweetened mawa and mix again till a thick mixture is formed.
Finally add few drops of essence, mix and immediately take off from fire.
Take a plate with flat surface or a baking tray and grease it slightly with vegetable oil.
Pour the mithai mixture on greased surface and spread out evenly.
Garnish with chopped almonds/unsalted pistachios or silver varq.
Let it cool properly, and then cut it into desired shape.