Updated: Apr 1, 2019
This year Greg and I celebrated our first Lohri as husband and wife.
Lohri is a Punjabi festival, and being Punjabi, I don't usually think much about holidays because I've been celebrating them with my family year after year; trying to squeeze in a stop at the Gurdwara between school and work, and eating the best foods.
Part of being married to Greg means that we both need to be more mindful of our cultures. I don't just go through the motions anymore because I have a partner who wants to understand what, when, where, how, and most importantly, why. I'm grateful, because not only is he learning about a part of my identity that is not familiar to him, but it forces me to go in depth. To learn the things that growing up I might have just done without really considering why.
So for those of you who are not familiar, Lohri is the Punjabi Winter festival. It is meant to celebrate the end of the season, with bonfires, dancing, and food; in particular, the foods that have just been harvested like peanuts, sugarcane, and greens.
Usually, the first Lohri after a wedding or the birth of a child, is very special. Families will go all out because there is a new member of the family to celebrate with. Traditionally, the first Lohri was only made a huge a deal if the newborn was a boy. I knew a few women growing up who had a bone to pick with the celebration because of this. But I also know women who said 'I don't think so,' to the patriarchy and went all out for their daughters' first Lohris. I prefer the latter, because not only does it show that we're breaking away from these very old ideas of value in Indian society, but also because I would want equality to mean that we all get a chance at a special celebration, rather than have no celebration at all.
So for our first Lohri as husband and wife, we were far away from my Punjabi family, in an even colder environment in IL, in dire need of a bonfire. Being homesick only added fuel to my need to make our first Lohri special.
The closest Gurdwara to us is over an hour away, but I didn't let that discourage me. I tried making gajak for the first time, which made my mom chuckle. We got fresh moongfali, peanuts, to roast. And then I realized, what's a more Jas & Greg way to celebrate, than with Lohri inspired pancakes?
So I present to you......
These are essentially peanut pancakes, and the syrup is homemade with Gurh, also known as Jaggery, which is a cane sugar that is typically harvested leading up to Lohri.
2 cups flour
1/2 cup peanut butter powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
roasted peanuts, chopped
2 eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbsp low fat butter, melted
1. Combine all dry ingredients, excluding the roasted peanuts.
2. Add milk, butter, and egg yolks, and mix until incorporated.
3. Fold in egg whites until just incorporated, do not over mix.
4. Make the pancakes on a heated griddle, using butter or PAM. We used a non stick pan with a little bit of PAM.
5. Top with chopped roasted peanuts and gurh syrup, recipe below.
The syrup! We actually used a recipe for pancake syrup from Taste of Home, and adjusted the recipe to make sure the syrup had the flavor of gurh, versus maple syrup.
1 cup gurh
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
2. Bring to a boil.
3. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes.
4. Pour over pancakes and enjoy, or refrigerate for later use.
These pancakes were a lot of fun. The gurh syrup really tied it all together and the smell just reminded me of my mom's desserts. I probably won't have an emotional attachment to all of the pancakes we try this year, but having just moved away, these really brought me close to home.