Every year during Lohri, I think of all the Winter delicacies that were, during my childhood days, prepared at home. And I start sniffing around for that familiar aroma when jaggery would melt into syrup in a karai put on coal angeethi. The patterns it would form while simmering on slow heat and the aroma that would fill our small house and our minds with, is something that is etched permanently on my mind!
So every year, as an annual ritual, to keep intact the tradition of making such delicacies at home, I try my hand at re-creating the world of my childhood days!
Til-Chauli, is one such simple delicacy which is considered essential in all Hindu households on Lohri evening. Though these days Gazak and Reori etc. have taken precedence over Til Chaui but still in many houses the oblation to the Lohri fire would not to complete if it is not offered Til Chauli. As the name signifies it is a simple mixture of Til that is sesame seed and chawal that is rice. My mother-in-law always would bring out some green paddy plants kept separately for this grand occasion. She would tell me that before the paddy is harvested, they would separately keep some paddy plants, with grains in a tender state, at home. This would be used to make Til-Chauli during Lohri. The grains would be soft to munch and crisp as well at the same time. These grains would be soaked in water, then fried in clarified butter and would be mixed with sesame seeds and sugar along with a liberal sprinkling of dry fruits!
I, on the other hand, make Til Chauli in a different manner as i don’t have these specially kept grains! I substitute it with Chidwas, the puffed rice so easily available in the market. I fry groundnut seeds separate, and finely grated or chopped coconut separately. I fry Chidwa on low flame in a Kerai where I put a little ghee! When Chidwa turns crispy and turns golden in colour, I add fried groundnut seeds, grated and fried coconut, other dry fruits and mix all these well. I put off the heat and add sugar to taste, stirring the mixture well! The sugar gradually envelops all the ingredients and becomes one with the mixture! And Til-Chauli is ready to be offered to the sacred fire of Lohri and to be relished after that.
This mixture is healthy for the winters and has quite less calories than the chocolates that the modern generation gulps without any pangs of guilt for taking high calorie and high carbohydrates diet!
Enjoy eating Til Chauli! (I am finding it very funny that my daughter has taken Til-Chauli to her high profile, ultra-modern Google office and the imagination of her friends munching Til-Chauli there is keeping me much amused.)
Til Chauli has surely come a long way!