Traditional Sankranti Recipes infused with health

Lohri, Makar Sankranti, Uttarayan, Maghi, Pongal… The moving of the Sun from the Southern to the Northern hemisphere is celebrated by many names in India.Festivals and celebrations have their fair share of indulgences. And with the end of winter, the community spirit has its time to shine with traditional recipes and activities that encourage us to spend time in the sun. But a traditional dish does not essentially have to be an unhealthy one. In fact, if you really think about it, our traditional Indian recipes are, in fact, quite healthy. With pure ghee and jaggery, even the sweets are an indulgence you can give in to without any guilt. This festival season, why not check out some recipes from around the country that can be made even healthier by replacing a traditional ingredient with a healthier, low GI offering from Deccan Mudra?

1. Khejur Gurer Payesh
The humbler of the Bengali sweet dishes, payesh, a version of the ubiquitous kheer available all over India, is more commonly made on a day-to-day basis in the household. This version, made with date palm jaggery and low GI black rice will give you the same taste with an extra dose of health. The naturally sticky black rice is a perfect replacement from the Gobindobhog rice traditionally used in this recipe.

1.5 litre skimmed milk
500 ml water
150 grams Deccan Mudra black rice (Or Deccan Mudra Telangana Sona low GI rice)
300 grams date palm jaggery
25 grams cashew nuts
25 grams raisins
5 green cardamom
2 bay leaves

a. Wash and soak rice overnight.
b. In the morning, wash and soak cashew nut, and raisin in water separately for 15 minutes.
c. Add water, bay leaf and whole cardamom to the milk in a deep bottom vessel allow it to come to a boil on high heat.
d. After one boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook while stirring occasionally till the mixture reduces to approximately 1.5 litres.
e. Add soaked rice to the milk and keep cooking on low flame, stirring often, till the rice softens.
f. Now add Cashew Nut and Raisin and cook for 5 more minutes.
g. When the rice is cooked properly, add broken pieces of date palm jaggery.
h. Using a ladle, stir continuously and continue cooking on low flame until desired consistency is reached.
i. Switch off the flame and cool the Payesh completely before serving.

Adapted from Debjanir Rannaghar’s recipe. Check out the original recipe here:

2. Sakkarai Pongal:
This dish that is eponymous with the festival of pongal is the sweet version of the venn pongal that is a breakfast staple in Tamilnadu. The moong dal gives a taste and texture unique to the dessert that makes you want to keep digging in. Replacing the regular white rice with its low GI counterpart helps you feel even better about the choices you are making in this new year.

1 cup Deccan Mudra Telangana Sona Rice soaked overnight
¼ cup Moong dal
2.5 cups Grated Jaggery
¼ tsp Cardamom Powder
1 tbsp Cashews1 pinch natural/edible camphor (Pachai Karpooram)- Optional
1 tbsp Raisins -Optional
5 tbsp Ghee4½ cups Water

a. Dry roast moong dal till it gives a nice aroma. Wash well once cooled.
b. Add the moong dal and soaked rice to a cooker with 4.5 cups water and pressure cook for 5-6 whistles.
c. Once the pressure releases, mash the mixture slightly if needed.
d. In a saucepan, add jaggery along with 1/4 cup water and allow the jaggery to melt and dissolve completely. Set aside.
e. Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and strain the jaggery mixture into it.
f. When the jaggery syrup comes to a rolling boil, add the dal and rice mixture.
g. Add remaining ghee and cardamom powder and stir well. Cook on a medium to low heat while stirring till the mixture thickens.
h. In another pan, add a teaspoon of ghee and roast the cashews and raisins till they turn golden brown. Add the roasted cashews and raisins to the sakkarai pongal and give a final stir before switching off the flame

Adapted from Sowmya Venkatachalam’s recipe. Check out the original recipe here:

3. Tilor Pitha
Feeling adventurous? Here is a traditional Assamese recipe that has the quintessential Sankranti ingredient of sesame seeds but poses a challenge with the tricky rice wrapper. Here, we replace the traditional bora saul sticky white rice with Decan Mudra Block Rice for the same sticky texture with high antioxidant properties. If you are feeling even more experimental, you can invert the colour scheme of the traditional recipe completely and replace the black sesame seeds in the filling with white, to contrast with the black rice wrappers.

2 cups Deccan Mudra black rice
8 cups water
150 g grated jaggery
110 g black (or white) sesame seeds
1 tsp crushed cardamom seeds cardamom powder

a. Soak the rice in around 6 cups of water for 6-7 hours. Drain the water with a colander or sieve and let it drain for about 30 minutes.
b. Blend it in a blender to get a fine powder.
c. Add 2 cups of water into this rice slightly damp flour, mix well and set the batter aside in a covered bowl.
d. Dry roast the sesame seeds on medium heat in a pan for about 5 minutes until they are aromatic.
e. Pulse it in a grinder till you get a rough powder. Do not run the grinder continuously to avoid the release of oil.
f. Mix the sesame seeds, powdered cardamom, and jaggery by rubbing it between your fingers until the jaggery is well mixed with the sesame powder.
g. Heat a non-stick tava and bring it down to low temperature.
h. Mix the rice batter well every time before spreading out the batter. Take a large spoonful of the batter and pour it over the skillet and very gently spread it a bit to get a round shape.
i. Place the filling in the middle or this crepe in a long line, making sure to add more in the centre and less on the edges.
j. Now increase the heat to medium until the crepe automatically separates from the pan.
k. Decrease the heat to low again and slowly with the help of a spatula, fold the crepe in to form a roll.
l. Let it sit on the skillet for about 20 seconds so it firms up and then take it off the skillet and place it on a plate.
m. Repeat for the rest of the batter.

Recipe adapted from Anjali’s recipe. Check out the original recipe here:

4. Urad Dal Khichdi
Overwhelmed by the last recipe? If that is too finicky for you or if you are not someone with a sweet tooth, maybe try this one pot recipe that is popular across Northern India during Makar Sankranti. Sending this black gram khichdi to the house of married daughters as a gift is a tradition in Jammu.

½ cup Deccan Mudra Telangana Sona low GI Rice
¼ cup Black gram (urad dal with the skin)
½ cup green peas
1 small piece of cinnamon
2 cloves
5 black peppercorns
½ black cardamom
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ inch piece of ginger
2 green chillies slit lengthwise1 tomato diced
2 tbsp gheeA pinch of asafoetida
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp red chilli powderSalt to taste

a. Wash and soak the rice and dal for 4-6 hours or overnight.
b. Heat ghee in a pressure cooker and add cumin seeds, asafoetida, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and cardamom and saute for a couple of minutes.
c. Once it turns aromatic, add the diced tomato, turmeric powder, green chilli, grated ginger and green peas.
d. Saute for a few more minutes and add the soaked dal and rice along with 1 ½ cups of water.
e. Once it comes to a boil, add salt and chilli powder and close the lid.
f. Let it cook for one whistle on high heat and one more on a low flame.

Adapted from Nisha’s recipe. Check out the original recipe here:

This festive season, celebrate the shift in season with friends and family by making a small but significant change. Same taste, better health with Deccan Mudra.