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From undhiyo to khichdo, favourite dishes from the Uttarayan festival

This year's first festival marks the harvest season with traditional delights

Jalebi and chikki are popular delights during Uttarayan. (Pexels/ Saveurs Secretes)

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In January, as the skies of Gujarat are adorned with colourful kites and a sense of competition fills the air, the most awaited festival, Uttarayan or kite festival, begins. From Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam to Kai Po Che, Hindi cinema has frequently used kite flying festivals to either show blooming romance or friendship montages. But the foodies zoom in to see the delicious dishes that the characters munch on. If you are one of them, this is for you.

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Makar Sankranti, the first festival of the year, has different names and traditions across the nation. In Gujarat, it is celebrated as Uttarayan, which announces the beginning of the harvest season and spring. This year the festival will be held between January 8 and 14.

Ahmedabad has hosted the International Kite Festival as part of the official celebration of Uttarayan since 1989. Kite makers and flyers from across the world participate to show off their unique kites. The kite flying competition is all about keeping your kite in the air while cutting the strings of nearby flyers.

The preparation begins months before, in November, with people finding their favourite kite-makers and ensuring their kites are resilient to bear the tension. Patang Bazaar, the special kite market, in Ahmedabad, gets busy during this time. In the week before the festival, it is open 24 hours a day.

However, the main attraction remains the delicious local dishes. Along with chikki (made with peanuts or sesame seeds mixed with jaggery) and the popular sweet, jalebi, here are some of the favourites:

1. Undhiyo

This is a popular Gujarati mixed vegetable dish from Surat. The name comes from the Gujarati word "undhu", which means upside down. The dish is traditionally cooked in earthen pots placed upside down in a fire pit dug in the ground but today, it is usually made as a one-pot dish using a pressure cooker. There are three popular variations of it: Surti style, Kathiyawadi style and Matla Undhiyu.

2. Kachariyu

A simple sweet made with sesame seeds, grated coconut and jaggery along with dates and dry ginger powder. In Gujarathi, ‘kacharvu’ means ‘to grind’ and since the sesame seeds are ground, the sweet was named Kachariyu.

Also read: How the government of India plans to promote regional millets

3. Khichdo

This is an easy sweet dish made of broken wheat, milk, sugar, nuts, and ghee. It celebrates the beginning of the harvest season and signifies the transition to a new season.

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