Traditional Makar Sankranti Foods And Their Health Benefits

Explore the goodness of traditional Makar Sankranti foods and unlock their health benefits. Dive into a festive journey that combines cultural richness with well-being through these delicious and nutritious dishes.

By Ritika Basu
New Update
Makar Sankranti

Traditional Makar Sankranti Foods And Their Health Benefits

Makar Sankranti, a vibrant and auspicious festival celebrated across India, marks the transition of the sun into the zodiac sign of Capricorn. Beyond the colorful kites and festive spirit, the traditional foods associated with Makar Sankranti hold cultural significance and are known for their health benefits. Celebrated under various regional names such as Makar Sankranti, Lohri, Pongal, and Uttarayan, harvest festivals in different parts of the country are characterized by diverse customs. However, the universal element that binds them together is the enjoyment of delectable cuisine. Here is a look at the nutrition and wellness aspects of these traditional delights from different parts of India.

Til Gur Laddoo (Maharashtra)

Indulge in the goodness of til and gur laddoos, where sesame seeds (til) bring a wealth of vital nutrients like healthy fats, protein, fiber, and various minerals. These laddoos not only serve as a delicious treat but also support bone health. The inclusion of jaggery (gur), a natural sweetener, enhances the sweetness with added benefits, providing iron, magnesium, and essential minerals.

Patishapta Pitha (West Bengal)

Patishapta Pitha, a delightful Bengali sweet dish, is crafted with a blend of semolina (sooji), refined flour (maida) or garbanzo wheat flour, milk, khoya, cardamom, and sweetened with jaggery or date-palm syrup. Beyond its delectable taste, Patishapta Pitha brings notable health benefits. Semolina, rich in protein, iron, magnesium, folate, vitamin B, and fiber, promotes heart health and aids in digestion. Incorporating jaggery (gur), a natural sweetener, not only elevates the sweetness but also brings additional advantages by supplying iron, magnesium, and essential minerals.

Pongal (Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana)

The renowned South Indian delicacy, Pongal, is meticulously crafted from a combination of rice, moong dal, and an array of spices including cumin seeds, black pepper, hing (asafoetida), curry leaves, and ginger. Beyond its culinary appeal, Pongal brings an array of health benefits. Moong dal, a key ingredient, has been associated with possible lowering of blood sugar levels and cholesterol, liver protection, and immune system enhancement due to its richness in proteins, fiber, folate, vitamins K and C, as well as essential compounds like peptides and polyphenols. Hing, traditionally used, addresses various digestive issues. Curry leaves, rich in carbazole alkaloids, offer antidiabetic and neuroprotective advantages, aiding in the treatment of digestive disorders. Ginger, a staple for centuries, is known for its preventive and therapeutic properties against high blood pressure, cough and cold, arthritis, and various inflammatory conditions.

Sarso Ka Saag and Makki Di Roti (Punjab)

Lohri (Punjab's harvest festival) is celebrated with great enthusiasm and coincdes with Makar Sankranti. The staple Lohri dish, Sarso saag, accompanied by Makki roti, forms a wholesome and nutritious meal. Mustard greens, the main component of sarso saag, are not only low in calories but also high in fiber, contributing to digestive well-being. Additionally, they are a rich source of vitamins A, C, and K, calcium, and iron. Paired with this, makki roti, crafted from maize flour, is a dietary fiber powerhouse, promoting a healthy gut. This traditional combination not only delights the taste buds but also provides a range of health benefits.

Makara Chaula (Odisha)

Makara Chaula, a renowned traditional dish from Odisha, combines newly harvested rice with ingredients like cottage cheese (paneer), coconut, ginger, sugarcane, sweet potato, jaggery, pepper, and fresh fruits. Beyond its flavorful appeal, Makara Chaula offers notable health benefits. Cottage cheese, rich in nutrients and calcium, may aid in preventing conditions like osteoporosis. Additionally, the consumption of coconut in this dish is associated with immune system enhancement. 

Undhiyu (Gujarat)

Undhiyu, a Gujarat delicacy traditionally prepared during Uttarayan, coinciding with Makar Sankranti, boasts a nutritional profile rich in fiber, proteins, and phytonutrients. The medley of colorful vegetables in undhiyu not only provides essential energy, especially from root vegetables, but also delivers a diverse range of antioxidants due to the unique variety present in this single dish. Employing healthier cooking methods, such as steaming vegetables and reducing oil usage, further enhances its health benefits. As noted by celebrity nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar, the distinctive combination of vegetables in undhiyu contains numerous prebiotics, contributing to the growth of 'good bacteria' or microorganisms in the intestine, thereby promoting digestion.
Keep in mind that although these foods offer potential health benefits, it's crucial to consume them in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet. For personalized advice, consider consulting with a healthcare professional.

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World of Food is a digital publisher and does not offer personal health or medical advice. You should consult your healthcare provider before starting any nutrition, diet, exercise, fitness, medical, or wellness program