Delicacies at the kite festival of Jaipur

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Kite festival in Jaipur during Makar Sankranti

The regal state of Rajasthan is on almost every international tourist’s itinerary for its varied landscape, ethnic folklore, delicious food and warm people. Royal palaces and formidable forts apart, Rajasthani thali food seasoned with spices and herbs is visually appealing and tastes great.

The winter harvest festival of Makar Sankranti falls unfailingly every year on the 14th of January. It is celebrated all over India but Jaipur heralds it in a special manner. It is the time of the year to seek blessings and thank God. Devotees take a dip in the kund or water springs and Galta ji Mandir, near Jaipur city, is the most preferred temple to offer prayers.

It is believed that Raja Sawai Ram Singh II of Jaipur encouraged and introduced the sport of kite flying from Lucknow. He was in the habit of flying beautifully-festooned kites from his palace and rewarded those who brought back his kites. This made kite flying popular among the people and the trend of flying kites on Makar Sankranti day came into existence.

People get up early in the morning despite the cold winter climate, take bath in the springs, pray at the temples and head to the rooftops with their colourful kites in tow. The sky looks attractively-decked with innumerable kites in multiple hues with their long tails snaking along. In the evening, as the sun sets, the leftover crackers from Diwali are burst to augment the air of festive zeal further. Presently, flying combatant kites and cutting other’s cords with glass whetted manja or kite thread is a competition for Jaipur inhabitants.

As no festival can be complete without its fair share of delicacies, a feast is laid out and daughters and sisters of the house are invited to partake in the revelries.

Jaipur tikki – special Makar Sankranti fare

Jaipur tikki (vegetable pattice Jaipur-style)

Ingredients:
Potatoes 4 medium-sized boiled and finely mashed
Carrot 1 large diced
Green peas 1 small cup
Paneer 50gm
Oil 150gm for shallow frying
Cumin seeds ½ tsp
Green chilli paste 1tsp
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Coriander powder ½ tsp
Black pepper powder ½ tsp
Bread crumbs 3 tbsp
Salt to taste

Procedure:
1. Boil carrot and peas.
2. Grind paneer, green peas and diced carrot finely.
3. Heat oil in a pan; add cumin seeds, green chilli paste, turmeric, coriander and black pepper powders. Immediately add carrot, pea and paneer mixture.
4. Add salt to taste and mix well to make the filling. Set it aside.
5. Take a lemon-sized ball of mashed potato on the palm and make a cup shape of it. Place a teaspoon of the filling mixture into this cup. Cover from all the sides to make a tikki. Continue till all tikkis are made and place them on a wet cloth.
6. Spread a little oil on the pan and heat it. Cover each tikki in bread crumbs and shallow fry each one at a time. Fry till golden brown on both sides and serve hot with chutney or sauce.

Gatte ka saag – a typical Rajasthani delicacy (image courtesy: udaipuri.com)

Gatte ka saag (steamed gram flour dumplings)

Ingredients:
Gram flour 250gm
Curd 300ml
Red chilli powder 2 tsp
Cumin seeds 3 tsp
Turmeric powder ½ tsp
Coriander powder 1tsp
Oil 4 tbsp
Salt to taste

Procedure:
For Gatta
1. In a vessel, take gram flour, 50ml curd, a pinch of salt, 1 tsp chilli powder and 30ml cooking oil and mix well.
2. Knead to make a soft and smooth dough.
3. With greased hands, shape the dough into 10cm long cylindrical rolls, 2cm in diameter.
4. Boil enough water in a pan and introduce the rolls one by one. Cook until the rolls are firm to the touch.
5. Gently remove the rolls from the water and cut each into 2 cm long pieces. Set aside to cool.

For Gravy:
6. Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin seeds and fry till they pop.
7. Introduce gram flour pieces (gatta) and stir-fry for 2 minutes.
8. Add the remaining chilli, turmeric and coriander powders and stir gently.
9. Beat the remaining curd with water. Add salt and simmer on low flame for 4-5 minutes. Once the gravy is thick and fine, add the gatte and simmer for 1 minute.
10. Serve hot.

The famous Rajasthani Churma ladoo – churma is coarsely ground wheat crushed and cooked with ghee and sugar

Churma ladoo (sweet pellets of wheat morsels)

Ingredients:
Whole wheat flour 250gm
Semolina 50gm
Clarified butter (ghee) 200ml
Sugar 225gm
Cardamom powder ½ tsp
Almonds 5-6 sliced
Water 150ml

Procedure:
1. Mix flour, semolina, water and 25ml ghee.
2. Roll into a stiff dough.
3. Divide the dough into 12 equal portions.
4. Heat 125ml ghee in a pan and deep fry the dough portions on low flame.
5. Cook the dough till golden brown. Let it cool.
6. Grind the dough, sugar and cardamom powder together to make a fine powder.
7. Add sliced almonds and the remaining ghee.
8. Roll into lemon-sized balls or laddus

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