Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Unveiling the Culinary Treasure of Lohri: The Lesser-Known Heritage of ‘Khajoor’

by Dr. Jasneet Bedi

On the vibrant festival of Lohri, the air in the holy city of Amritsar is filled with the beats of dhol, the warmth of bonfires, and the irresistible aroma of sweet delicacies. While the celebration is synonymous with rooftop kite-flying competitions and the joyous spirit of the community, one particular treat takes center stage – the lesser-known heritage of ‘Khajoor.’

Contrary to its name, Khajoor is not a date-based confection but a humble pastry that captures the essence of Lohri. Crafted exclusively for the festival, this delectable delight is a unique blend of flour, ghee, sugar, and a deep-fry perfection that sets it apart. Available only during the Lohri season, these pastries grace local markets from late December, creating a sense of novelty and anticipation among the residents.

Source: Amritsar Walking Tours, YouTube

Priced between Rs 300 to Rs 700 per kilogram, the cost varies based on the oil used in preparation, with the ghee-fried variants fetching a premium. The exclusivity of Khajoor to the holy city has turned it into a sought-after winter delicacy, capturing the attention of both locals and tourists alike. Its moist interior and crispy exterior, combined with the festive atmosphere, make it a culinary treasure that defines the Lohri experience in Amritsar.

Not just a local favorite, Khajoor has become a must-try for tourists, especially those visiting Amritsar during the winter season. Its unique preparation and limited availability add an element of exclusivity to the festivities, attracting the taste buds of both residents and visitors.

Amidst the indulgence in Khajoor, Lohri brings forth a plethora of other culinary delights that add to the festive cheer. ‘Til bhugga,’ a white sesame seed sweet, ‘rewaris,’ peanuts, and jaggery-filled with dry fruits offer a delightful array of choices for those with a sweet tooth. The community Lohri bonfires, a tradition upheld by most citizens, provide the perfect backdrop for savoring these traditional treats.

Following Lohri, the winter revelry continues with Maghi or Makar Sankranti. Household kitchens buzz with activity as families prepare kheer made from sugarcane, jaggery, rice, and nuts, along with the wholesome dal-khichdi, consumed on Maghi. As the festival unfolds, people visit shrines, take holy dips, and offer prayers for new beginnings, marking the transition into a season of hope and joy.

In Punjabi festivities, Khajoor emerges as a hidden gem, adding a layer of sweetness to the cultural heritage of Lohri. As the sun sets on the winter sky, and the bonfires illuminate the city, the legacy of Khajoor continues to unfold, capturing the hearts and palates of those who partake in this culinary tradition.

Dr. Jasneet Bedi

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