From secretly licking off that last grain of sweetened, cinnamon-infused rice to basking in the warmth of the grand bonfire as you try and cling on to the folk notes your parents (try and) hit — the festival of Lohri is a time of pure indulgence. Celebrated each year on January 13, to mark the winter solstice and commemorate the traditional onset of the harvest season in Punjab, the festival is full of sights and flavoured fervour of jaggery-high relatives and endearing rituals. Partake with delicious gaiety with your family by chanting along to ‘ishvar aa, dalidar ja, dalidar di jaar chulle paa’ (evoking Gods to banish the dismal cold) and singing about the heroics of the legend of Dulla Bhatti. Here’s your quick guide to celebrating Lohri with homebound love.
Tourists enjoy some Punjabi folk dance while celebrating Lohri festival at The Lalit in New Delhi. (HT Photo By Sonu Mehta)
Dry Fruit Chikki
To have some warm valour to combat the chill, we need some sugar in our lives. There’s a quick and easy way to add sweetness to the celebration by cooking some fresh, homemade chikki or patti. All you need is a concoction of dry fruits, gud or jaggery, and a helping of ghee. Start with melting a rough brick of jaggery in ghee till it melts and caramelises. In another pan, add ghee and roast peanuts, sesame seeds and chopped cashews. Now, pour the gud into the dry fruit mix. In a separate greased mould, pour the final mixture and let it settle. Do not refrigerate. Once the mix cools, you’ll have your patti ready!
Sundar Mundariye, Hoye!
The folk music associated with the festival goes much beyond the ‘pop’ mish-mash of everyday radio playlists. Put on Sundar Mundariye: a fun folk ballad about a beautiful girl and Dulla Bhatti — a Lohri legend, a man associated with helping the poor and his love heroics. Indulge in tunes of folk singer like Minu Bakshi or veterans like Gurdas Maan, who do contemporary renditions of traditional songs.
Saffron Sweet Rice
If it’s fluffy, fragrant and flavoursome, it has to be delicious! Whip up a quick serving of sweet saffron rice, a traditional take on dessert for Lohri. Boil rice to start, and when it’s half-cooked, add sugar according to the level of sweetness you desire. Now, add water-soaked saffron along with it’s liquid remnants for colour, flavour along with a little cinnamon. Cook and top with dry fruits of your choice.
Want to add a dash of cool into your celebration? Give a chic spin to your Lohri platter with fusion desserts that you can put together in a few minutes flat. From gorgeous mocktails, that’ll wow your guests, to easy-to-do snack and halwa, here’s how to party over some fun food and drinks. While you can’t go wrong with refreshing palak kebabs, you can whip up some nutty jaggery halwa to be served piping hot to your guests. And if you’re game for some edible quirk, go for fusion desserts that are a cinch to put together. Add a swift gourmet touch to popcorns — cook them in sugar syrup, add them to ready-made ice cream mix, throw in some kala til and refrigerate. And for a quick rewri cheesecake, all you need is milk, sugar, processed cheese, a handful of rewris, gelatin and fresh cream. Mix, bring to boil, put in a bowl and set in the chiller for 15 minutes. It’s going to be a Lohri to relish! (Inputs by chef Nishant Choubey)
Ingredients: 1 and 1/2 cup orange juice, 1/4th orange peel, 1 cup water, 1 cup jaggery, 1 and 1/2 cup sweet lime juice, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 4 strands of lemon grass
Method: Place orange skin and lemon grass in a container. Add 1 cup hot water, cover it and set it aside for ten minutes. Melt jaggery, and allow the mixture to cool. Strain and add the jaggery to the container. Mix orange, lemon and sweet lime juices. Pour it in a martini glass and serve.
Ingredients: 1/2 cup chana dal, 1 bunch spinach, 50 gms chopped onions, 1 tbsp besan, 3 tsp ginger-garlic paste, 2 tsp chopped green chillies, 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds, salt to taste
Method: Grind chana dal (pre-soaked for 3 hrs) and spinach in a mixer to a thick paste. Add rest of the ingredients and mix well. Shape the mixture into tikki and deep fry till it turns golden brown. Serve hot. By Chef Ranjeet, Lazeez Affaire
Jaggery Nuts Halwa
Ingredients: 100 gm ghee, 3/4 cup wholewheat flour, 2 cups water, 1 cup jaggery, 4 cardamom pods (powdered)Method: Add flour to pre-heated ghee and roast it on low heat till it turns golden brown. Add jaggery, water and heat till jaggery is dissolved. Boil and keep stirring till the mixture turns smooth. Add cardamom powder, mix well, top with nuts, chocolate chips and serve warm. By Chef Manoj Upadhyay, Pure Punjab
Ingredients: 1 pomegranate, 1 tbsp sugar, 1/2 lemon juice, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp chaat masala
Method: Peel out seeds from a pomegranate. Grind these seeds with sugar and some water in a mixer. Drain it out. Add lemon juice, black pepper, salt and chaat masala. Pour it in a glass and garnish with mint leaves or strawberries.