January is a month that comes with mixed feelings. After long vacation, you are back to work and that too into a new year. One thing that helps me overcome the sadness of the end of vacations is the festival of Lohri and Makar Sankranti. Festivals always bring with them a reason to enjoy and eat lots of sweets. In India, Lohri and Makar Sankranti are celebrated one day after another. It’s a time when whole India gets into a festive mood and celebrate the season of harvest. In Punjab – it is Lohri, in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, and Maharashtra – it is Makar Sankranti, in Tamilnadu, it is called Pongal, in Goa, it is Haldi-Kumkum, Himachal Prasdesh – Magha Saaji, and in Assam, it is called Bhogali Bihu.
Different names but the spirit is same – bon fire, kite-flying, and sweets made by sesame seeds and peanuts and jaggery. I made Sesame seeds laddoo and barfi this makar Sankranti and in my in-laws family, we also have the tradition of eating flattened rice with curd, which is called Dahi-Chuda. Sesame Seeds laddoos can be made simply with jaggery or with khoya which adds milk cream’s richness to the sweet.
On the Sankranti weekend, I had my first Cookies class. Since cookies take very less time to cook, I included nine types of cookies to demonstrate. I was confident of making all nine cookies in four to five hours; but as usual, I underestimated the efforts and the gossip session that goes when all ladies meet in one place 🙂 We started with making dough for Gingerbread cookies, Karachi (fruit and nut) biscuits, and Pin-Wheel biscuits and kept the dough in the fridge to set. In the meanwhile, we made Choco-chips cookies, Honey-Oatmeal cookies, Coconut cookies, Naankhatais, Cheese straws, Masala Biscuits. The pictures of all the cookies are in the Gallery section.
By the end of the class, we all were tired but the real fun started when the kids jumped in to decorate the gingerbread cookies. I quickly made the royal icing and gave them three colors to play with. It was so good to see the kids enjoying and decorating the gingerbread cookies.