In Janury 2020 we were very lucky to be filmed in the Peak District for BBC’S Countryfile. In the show, aired 26th January 2020; we gave presenters Anita Rani and Sean Fletcher a masterclass in Indian bread making; plus showcasing food eaten at Lohri, one of the most important winter thanksgiving festivals in the Indian calendar.
The festival is celebrated on the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year in Punjab It marks the end of winter and the beginning of the harvest season.
During the day children are given sweets, jaggery (sugar cane) peanuts to eat as snacks. In the evening people gather around community bonfires, singing songs, and offering rewri sesame seeds, nuts, peanuts, popcorns and sugar cane to the fire. For the main course, sarson da saag (spinach) and makki di roti (cornflour chapattis) are eaten. Sarson da saag is a mixture of wilted greens including mustard greens and spinach. They are cooked in a little water until completely wilted.
Below are the recipes we talked about in the show
200g medium cornflour/polenta
200ml hot water
25g butter/ghee (optional)
TIME: 25 Minutes
Makes 4 (or 2 large)
TIP: Add dried fenugreek leaves or fresh coriander leaves whilst kneading to make it even tastier
(Makki di Roti)
Makki di roti is a yellow, hard, flat bread made from corn meal flour, making it gluten-free. In the north of India this bread is usually teamed up with saag For a spicy Makki di roti; add seasoning (salt, garam masala, chilies etc ) to the flour before adding the water along with a handful of fenugreek leaves.
1. In a mixing bowl place the cornflour and add just over half of the hot water
2. Using a spoon or fingers mix and knead into a dough; add more water as needed until it becomes like a play dough consistency. Knead for a couple of minutes to form smooth, soft dough.
3. Divide the dough in to 4 equal parts. Wet hands with water and roll between the palms to form into balls To stop the dough from cracking around the edges use wet hands and pinch any cracks that may form and keep smoothing out between the palms. Apply gentle pressure to flatten and form a disc around 4mm thick.
4. A top tip to roll out the roti, is to sandwich it between two sheets of clean thick plastic such as a sandwich ziplock bag. Cut three sides open, Dampen the inside of the bag with a splash of water this stops the dough from sticking. Place the dough ball in the bag gently roll out.
5. Heat a tawa/ griddle pan to a medium/hot heat. Place the flatbread on to the tawa/pan.
6. Leave to cook for a couple of minutes before flipping over and cook until dark brown spots form on both sides.
7. Remove brush with butter/ghee. Keep warm in a clean tea towel and continue cooking the rest.
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600g of fresh spinach, kale or winter greens chopped
100g medium cornflour/polenta
1 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 large onion (chopped)
1/2 can chopped tomatoes
OR 3 fresh ripe tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic (chopped)
HALF A PACKET of your choice of Curry On Cooking Curry spice kit we used Pakora
½ teaspoon ground ginger
OR 1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves
½ teaspoon of black pepper
½ teaspoon dried chilli (optional)
TIME: 30 Minutes
The perfect way to eat your greens! Saag is traditionally served with maki di roti (corn flour chapati) and in our household with lashings of lemon achar (pickle) and natural yoghurt.
1. In a pressure cooker add the greens and a splash of water and cook for approximately 20 minutes.
Or in a large stock pot, cook the greens until soft and pulp-like.
2. Sprinkle in the cornflour, mix well and mash with a potato masher or whizz it up in a blender for a smoother consistency.
3. To make the takra – in a frying pan heat the oil to a medium heat, add the onions and garlic – cook until the onions are soft.
4. Add the tomatoes cook for a minute.
5. Add the spices and mix well into the takra, cook for 1 minute.
6. Add the tarka to the saag – warm the saag and serve.
TIPS: Cooked potatoes, paneer or chickpeas can be added to the saag