With the chilly winter month of Paush coming to an end, it is time again to gear up for the yearly Lohri celebrations. We bring you a modern Indian twist to the humble popcorn with our quick recipe
Elaichi Caramel Popcorn Clusters for Lohri
January is considered the peak of winter, but in India, it also kick starts the calendar of Indian festivals! This is the month for harvest festivals, which go by different names in different parts of India. In North India, it is called Lohri. Amidst the freezing cold winters, with the temperature dipping between 0 to 5 degrees Celsius, People, especially in the northern Indian states of Punjab, Haryana and parts of Himachal Pradesh, are busy making preparations for Lohri — the long-awaited bonfire festival — when they can come out of their homes to celebrate the harvesting of the Rabi (winter) crops and to enjoy the traditional folk songs and dances.
Lohri is a lot of fun for everyone, especially kids! During the day, the blue sky is transformed by the colors of the numerous kites being flown. At night, a family bonfire is set up, and everyone gets together to feast on popcorn, peanuts as well as traditional delicacies like Gajjak and Rewari. The kids also sing the folk song “Sundri Mundri” and elders give them money and gifts in return.
Despite staying away from North India for a while, Lohri always makes me nostalgic. This year, I’ve decided to celebrate Lohri in a special way, by making something yummy with my daughter. You don’t always get Rewari or Gajjak where I live, but popcorn is easily available, and these Elaichi Caramel Popcorn Clusters make for a lovely hot and sweet snack – perfect for bonfires!
Elaichi Caramel Popcorn Clusters
10 cups popped popcorn
1 cup roasted nuts (roughly chopped)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Elaichi powder ( Cardamom powder)
Directions to Make Elaichi Caramel Popcorn Clusters:
1. Grease 2 parchment sheets, 2 spatulas and keep aside.
2. Place popcorn and nuts in a large bowl and keep aside.
3. In a medium saucepan on medium heat, bring butter, sugar, honey and salt to a boil. Stir occasionally but not too often. The ideal temperature is between 250-300 F (a candy thermometer is very handy, otherwise about 5 minutes).
4. Remove the pan from heat and add elaichi powder and baking soda. Stir quickly as it might bubble up and the volume can increase.
5. Pour this mixture over the popcorn-nuts mix and let it coat it evenly. Spread the mixture over parchment paper and let it cool.
6. Resist eating it all in one go!!
As for popcorn, you can get the regular store version and pop it in the microwave. Or you could go the traditional route and use the pressure cooker. It doesn’t matter which way you do it, tasty results are guaranteed! Now gather everyone around the bonfire, and pass plates full of caramel popcorn to everyone – and enjoy a lovely time together with your family! Happy Lohri!