You can make this gluten-free ladoo, a round ball of melt in the mouth magic called Besan Laddu or plain Besan Unde. Simple pantry ingredients make this sweet a divine offering to the Gods! Served in a traditional meal as a sweet or as a dessert, a delicacy made with Bengal Gram flour you cannot stop eating just one!
As 14th January fast approaches, we have a festival coming up. Sankranti or Sankramana.
The day before is celebrated in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh as Bhogi and we celebrate the fresh farm produce . Tumgai palaya, Sajji Rotti being today’s highlights along with Good Saar and Huggi.
But a bit more about the famous festival. The first change in the zodiac after the winter solstice which according to the Hindu calendar is the first day of the month of Magha is Makar Sankranti also known as Makara Sankranti, Sankramana, Pongal. This is a harvest festival and the abundance of food is celebrated all over.
The Sankranti festival is celebrated in with pomp in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. From this day on the days lengthen. Makara Sankranthi is a solar event making it one of the few Hindu festivals which fall on the same date. It is every year 14 January, with some exceptions when the festival is celebrated on 15 January.
Like I said in Karnataka, Sankranti is celebrated on two days. The first day being Bhogi 1 day before Sankranti this year Bhogi will be celebrated on the 13th Jan.
First, what do we do on Bhogi?
We have an elaborate head bath which involves oiling the head and then the hot water bath. Delicious food like I said was Huggi and Gojju and good saar which I always enjoyed. Then there was Sajji Bhakari and tumgai palaya which I hated. But if there was Bhajji I loved Bhakari.
It’s not Greek and Latin just plain Kannada from Dharwad… Huggi is Khichidi made from split green gram and rice, Gojju is sweet sour bhindi or kerala yes bitter gourd please do not wrinkle your nose gojju is delicious. Good Saar is sweet rasam and it goes well with the Huggi. Tumgai playa is stuffed baby brinjals vegetable while Sajji rotti or bhakari are Bajara rotis. Did I miss anything? Bhajji is roasted brinjal peels and then mashed with raw onions finely chopped, cruds….. Yummy I am hungry again!!!
The next day we offer the Gods a mixture of Yellu that is til/ til/ sesame seeds, jaggery, coconut .fried gram, ground nuts and coconut. Sugar dolls called Sakare Achhu in some places are offered. Sugarcane, green gram, barikai/ bora, bananas and sugar coated til are offered to friends, relatives and neighbours.
Young kids from the neighbourhood are then invited for “Kari yeriyoudu”. The child who is below 5 years is dressed in black clothes and ornaments made from the sugar coated til seeds. Then the child is made to sit on a wooden seat which is called “mani” in Kannada and “path” in Marathi. A mixture of puffed rice, candy, sugarcane pieces, coins, gold, barikai (bora in Marathi) is poured over the child’s heads. The kids are allowed to loot the goodies. This practice is in Maharashtra too.
The Sweetened til/ sesame seeds are exchanged and we say “Yellu Bella Tind Yellu Bela Hangi Irona” let’s eat sesame seed and jaggery and remain sweet. Married women exchange haldi kumkum and gifts bananas and blouse pieces.
In Goa and Maharastra it is celebrated with the Haldi Kumkum ceremony, is a social gathering in India in which married women exchange haldi (turmeric) and kumkum (vermilion powder), as a symbol of their married status and wishing for their husbands’ long lives. We say “Til gul ghaya ani Good good Bola” Eat til and gul speak sweetly. Same sentiments everywhere.
Today I want to share the benefits of Sajji or Bajara. Also known as pearl millet…
Pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) is the most widely grown type of millet. It has been grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times.
Bajara is a poor man’s staple diet and hence not very expensive and is the main staple food grain in rural India.
The different names for pearl millet are bajri in Rajasthani, Gujarati and Marathi, Sajje/kambu in Kannada, Kambu in Tamil, Bajra in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi,sajjalu in Telugu, Kambam in Malayalam. Some other names worldwide are cattail millet, candle millet, dark millet.
Here are the reasons why you should include bajara in your meals from here.
- Since Bajra is mainly starch and it takes a longer time to breakdown, bajra keeps you full for a longer time.
- An excellent source of amino acids are and comparatively easily digestible than wheat grains.
- Bajara promotes heart health as it has cholesterol lowering.
- Magnesium and potassium present in pearl millets play a role in regulating blood pressure.
- Bajra is rich in insoluble fibre that helps digestion and stool formation. It also reduces secretion of bile acids.
- Several studies have suggested that bajra has cancer-protecting properties. A study showed that regular intake of bajra protects pre-menopausal women from developing breast cancer.
- bajra lowers the risk of development of diabetes in healthy individuals but also increases insulin sensitivity, making it a suitable cereal option for those who are diabetic.
So let us make Bajara Roti the traditional North Karnataka style, the rotti here very thin. You can, of course, make them to your liking but this is what I have here.
Sajji Rotti/ Sajji Bhakari/ Bajara Roti
Ingredients to make 8 rotti you will need:
- 2 ½ cups of bajara atta + extra dry flour to dredge the dough in
- Salt to taste
- Boiling hot water
- 2-3 teaspoon til/ sesame seeds
The other equipment will be:
- A cup full of water and a clean cloth preferably muslin cloth wide enough to dip your fingers in.
- Pour the bajara atta on the kitchen platform and mix with salt.
- Now make a well in the centre and add the hot water.
- With the spatula put some of the atta on the sides in the hot water.
- Let it cool a bit then knead well to a soft dough. Make the 8 balls from the flour.
- Put the tava/skillet to heat.
- Dust the work surface with some of the dry flour and sprinkle few til/ sesame seeds.
- Press the dough on the seeds then using your fingers press the dough and simultaneously use your finger to slightly turn the dough. (It’s a difficult job that gets easy with practice so go easy on yourself).
- Use dry flour as needed.
- Once the roti is ready, transfer it to the hot tava/skillet the seeds side up, the flame is on low.
- Use the wet cloth and smear the surface of the roti with water. Just enough to wet the side up.
- When the water dries up and you get small blister of the dough puffing up, turn the rotti on the tava/skillet. Raise the flame.
- Let it get brown spots on this side.
- Remove the rotti from the tava/skillet and transfer the seeds side on the flame directly. Flame high.
- If you patting process is correct the rotti will fluff up.
- Transfer to a casserole.
- Repeat with the rest of the balls.
- Serve with tumgai playa, bhaji, khichidi and good saar.
- Today I served with Brinjal, Carrots and peas Bhaji.