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Sankranti: Reaping the Health Benefits of the Harvest

Sankranti? Then it’s time for sesame sweets and kite flying. This harvest festival is celebrated across the different regions in different ways as – Makara Sankranti, Suggi, Lohri, Maghi, Pongal, Magh/Bhogali Bihu, Uttarayan, Magha Saaji, Kicheri and so on.

The significance lies in the delicacies prepared to mark the occasion. Let’s have a look at what Sankranti brings to the table for us. Down south, this festival is celebrated by cooking pongal and sharing ellu-bella and sugarcane.

Elite Ellu-bella

Courtesy: Sizzling Tastebuds
Courtesy: Sizzling Tastebuds

It is a blend of white sesame seeds, roasted peanuts, dried coconut, jaggery and roasted Bengal gram. No doubt it’s a nutrient treasure trove. Take a look

  • Dried coconut, peanuts and sesame seeds provide the much need fats essential to combat the dry, cold winter.
  • While sesame seeds provide zinc, copper and vitamin E-like compounds, coconut provides lauric acid that keeps illness at bay by making the immunity strong and mighty.
  • Sesame seeds and peanuts are winter harvests that keep the body warm. Winters are the time of heart trouble and these two foods do their part by promoting heart health as well.
  • Jaggery gives the much-needed energy boost and the Bengal gram adds the protein power.

Maybe not exactly as ellu-bella, but across all the regions, sesame and jaggery are feasted on during this time and now we know why.

Sweet Benefits of Sugarcane

Munching on sugarcane naturally cleanses the teeth, strengthens gums and gets rid of bad breath. Apart from the extra energy you need to keep the body temperatures up and going, sugarcane is rich in flavonoids that have antioxidant action (attack and destroy chemicals that harm our body). It is also a superfood that protects the liver!

Courtesy: Cook with Smile
Courtesy: Cook with Smile

Sugarcane is the bumper harvest of this festival. Since it cannot be stored for long, it is preserved as jaggery and sakkare achchu (sugar figures).

Promising Pongal

Another popular delicacy of this festival is pongal or kichadi which is a blend of rice, dal and ghee. This nourishes the body with ample amount of energy, protein and good fats. The sweet version of Pongal is made by adding jaggery.

As Sankranti is a harvest festival, each region celebrates by cooking, sharing and eating the local harvest. Local and seasonal foods are always healthy. As a matter of fact, you will notice that all the delicacies prepared for this festival are perfect for the winter – to keep your energy levels high, body warm and immunity at its best.