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Heart-Healthy Festive Recipes for the Harvest Season

It’s the onset of the New Year and with that, we mark the end of winter. This is the time of the year when we welcome a new beginning by bringing in the harvest season. The harvest festival of Makar Sankranti is celebrated across the country and it is also popularly known as Pongal in the South, and Lohri up North. This calls for some Makar Sankranti healthy recipes.

The festival is considered an auspicious day dedicated to peace and prosperity, and celebrated by making some delicious dishes for the occasion. Harvest festival food is typically organic, whole foods like cereals, pulses and other such ingredients which are good for your heart.

Here are some special Makar Sankranti recipes for you to make the most of the harvest season by literally reaping the (health) benefits of what has been sowed.

Pongal Special: Ven Pongal

Nutrient Metre: Of the pongal recipes, ven pongal is one of the most popular foods and is healthy too. It has whole grains like legumes and nuts which are heart friendly/heart healthy. So try to include these in your diet. A balanced diet can help keep your heart healthy.

Serves: 3 people

Ingredients to Use for Ven Pongal

For Pressure Cooker:

  • ½ cup rice
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
  • ⅛ teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 1 inch ginger, chopped
  • 3 to 3.25 cups water
  • Salt to taste
For Tempering:
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns whole or crushed, you can also add ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 small to medium curry leaves
  • 10 cashews, diced in half
  • 2tbsp ghee
  • 1tbsp Saffola Gold oil
Preparation for Ven Pongal Moong Dal and Rice
  • In a pan, add moong dal and roast on low flame until you can smell the aroma, without having to brown them. Keep aside in a separate bowl and add rice. Rinse both with water and drain.
  • Take a pressure cooker and add the rice along with the moong dal. Then, mix in the cumin seeds, asafetida (hing), ginger, and salt to taste.
  • Add 3 cups of water and let it sit in the pressure cooker on medium flame for approximately 7 to 8 whistles.
  • Once the pressure settles down, lift the lid to check for consistency. The rice and moong dal should be of a smooth texture. Once done, keep aside with the lid on.
Tempering
  • Take a separate pan in which to heat 2 tbsp ghee and 1 tbsp Saffola oil. Add cumin seeds until they pop.
  • Next, add cashews and heat until light golden. Then, sprinkle in black peppercorns and the curry leaves. Mix everything together until the curry leaves are crisp.
Preparing Ven Pongal
  • Finally, to combine everything and make the Ven Pongal, blend the tempered mix along with the pongal mix thoroughly.
  • Place the lid on the pan and let it sit for 5 to 6 minutes to get the most of the flavours and aroma.
  • Serve hot.

Note: Some people also prefer to serve Pongal recipes such as ven Pongal with coconut chutney and sambar, adding to the goodness of the dish.

Lohri Special: Pindi Channe

Nutrient Metre: Consuming chickpeas may help offset the development and progression of several health concerns like cardiovascular, type-2 diabetes, etc. and promote healthier functional outcomes like weight management.

Serves: 4 people

Ingredients to Use for Pindi Chana

  • 1½ cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
  • 2 tea bags
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate, dried
  • Salt
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp amchur
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp Saffola Gold Oil
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • 2 medium tomatoes
  • 3 green chillies, slit
  • 1 tsp garam masala
Preparation for Pindi Chana
  • In a frying pan, empty the soaked chana and add the tea bags. Sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Cook until soft and discard the tea bags.
  • Next, to prepare the chana masala, roast the dried pomegranates, coriander seeds, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, and amchur in a separate pan.
  • Then, heat two tbsp Saffola Gold Oil in the pan, add one portion of the cumin seeds and saute.
  • Add the chopped onions in the mix and saute until they turn golden.
  • To define the main flavour essence, add the red chilli powder, ginger and garlic paste, coriander powder, turmeric powder to taste, cumin powder, and continue to saute.
  • Now, bring back the pan with the boiled chana and mix. Add salt to taste.
  • To pump up the flavours, even more, heat one tbsp Saffola Gold Oil in a pan and add the remaining cumin seeds and tomatoes to the mix. Go on to include some salt and green chillies. Stir everything together.
  • Mash the tomatoes lightly, dilute with some water and cook for two minutes.
  • Empty the chana and its masala from the other pan into this pan and top it up with garam masala.
  • Blend everything together and let it cook for twenty minutes on low heat.
  • Serve hot and indulge in your feast.
Makar Sankranti Special: Til Ladoo

Nutrient Metre: Also known as ‘tilgud’, sesame and jaggery ladoos are one of the most popularly distributed Makar Sankranti dishes. What’s great is that “til” is a heart-healthy ingredient. Sesame seeds have been known to have anti-inflammatory properties. They also have antioxidant properties and the ability to lower cholesterol, therefore reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular problems. The other ingredient, jaggery has beneficial nutritional properties such as antioxidants, which makes it a great substitute for sugar.

Serves: 10 pieces

Ingredients to Use for Til Ladoo

  • ½ cup powdered jaggery or 100 grams grated jaggery
  • ¼ cup coconut, desiccated
  • ⅓ cup white sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom powder, grounded
  • 3 tablespoon water
  • 1 tbsp Saffola Gold oil
Preparation for Ingredients
  • In a pan, add white sesame seeds on low flame and roast until they pop and change colour, but don’t let them brown. Make sure to keep stirring. Once done, keep aside.
  • Next, add peanuts to the pan and dry roast on low heat, until they have a crunch with some black markings on them. Keep aside and allow to cool.
  • Add desiccated coconut to the same pan and roast until light or golden brown. Keep aside.
  • To make the ingredients come together, use a grinder to crush the peanuts finely once they have cooled, and mix with the roasted coconuts and sesame seeds.
  • Finally, add cardamom powder to the mix.
  • Blend everything together and keep aside.
Preparation for Jaggery Syrup 
  • To make the jaggery syrup, using the same pan, add the powdered jaggery or grated jaggery along with some water and keep on low flame. Stir until the jaggery and water mix together. Let it simmer on low heat until bubbles start to appear.
  • To know when your syrup is ready, fill up some water in a separate bowl and add a small portion of the jaggery mix from the pan into the water. If the consistency of the jaggery mix is sticky/pasty that allows you to roll it into ladoos, the syrup is ready.
Preparation for Til Ladoo
  • Finally, to prepare the tilgud, turn off the heat and smoothly blend in the mix of sesame seeds, desiccated coconut, crushed peanuts and cardamom powder that we had kept aside.
  • Start to mould the ladoos while the mix is still warm. Covering your hands in a few drops of oil can help with the moulding.
  • Keep aside in an airtight jar at room temperature, and relish this Sankranti-special food.
   

No matter which of the names you celebrate the harvest season with, there are a variety of Makar Sankranti healthy recipes for everyone to savour as we celebrate a New Year, a day full of peace, prosperity, and some delicious food!

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29039970/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Nuts-and-seeds

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/100/1/278/4576571?login=true

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5188421/

https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/antioxidants-in-depth

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8314846/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24493081/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4127822/