As I stirred the jaggery into the hot milk and watched the granules disappear and become one with the milk, I was transported to the time when I was a six year old in my grandparents home in Bangalore as I watched my grandmother do the same thing, while I eagerly waited to relish the delight that every spoon would bring.
After the jaggery had melted into the milk, ajji stirred in allittu or aralittu into the sweetened milk, mixed in a dollop of golden yellow ghee and then handed over the bowl to me, putting an end to my sweet anticipation.
As I relish this bowl of comfort made by me today, my mind tries to ascertain if my allittu matches the high standards of ajji’s precise measures that were always perfect in all the food that she cooked.
Taste is one of the best assets of a cook as it helps to replicate a dish from memory and food recreated from recollecting a time gone by always has a special edge to it. The amount of simple condiments like salt and sweeteners like sugar or jaggery in a dish can elevate it by several notches or bring it down due to the improper addition of these vital ingredients in a dish.I consider myself fortunate and blessed to have tasted the delicious food cooked by my grandmother right from simple dishes like sweet allittu to elaborate dishes that have several nuances to it in terms of the use of spices and techniques of cooking.
Aliittu or popped sorghum flour is made by roasting jowar or sorghum millet until it pops like popcorn and then grinding it into a flour after the millets have cooled down. Allittu can be prepared in sweet and savoury versions. The savoury version includes mixing the flour into yogurt or buttermilk and giving it a seasoning of mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafetida and chilies.
Allittu is commonly available in north karnataka and shops selling north karnataka ingredients, including certain online stores. I always have allittu stocked with me and since this does not have a prolonged shelf life, I keep it refrigerated or in the freezer when I receive large batches from my mother.
Allittu has all the goodness and nutrients of sorghum millet, is gluten free and a breeze to prepare. This being a no cook dish, makes it valuable for busy days when one has less time in the kitchen. This also makes it a very popular dish for the elderly and for growing kids in many north Karnataka households.
Regional Indian dishes are rich in taste, increase the biodiversity of gut bacteria and are filled with nutrients leading to enhanced immunity. Perhaps it was the magic of my grandma's hands or the captivating taste produced by the combination of three ingredients, I can't describe in words the comfort this bowl brings to me. Sure I love my granola and the occasional muesli, but this breakfast that can also be had as a snack has all my heart and wins hands down in my list of favourites.
Sihi Allittu Recipe
This is a very flexible recipe. Adjust the sweetener as per your liking. The ghee adds flavour and nutrition and makes it easy to digest. Do not skip the ghee. Keep in mind that this dish is to be had immediately after it’s prepared.
1 cup hot milk
2 tbsp jaggery
Allittu (popped sorghum millet flour)*
1 tsp pure ghee
In a bowl, put in the milk and stir in the jaggery. Keep stirring until the jaggery dissolves. After the jaggery dissolves completely, put in the popped sorghum millet flour little by little. Keep mixing until you get the desired consistency, not too thick and not too thin. Spoon in the ghee, mix once again and serve warm.
- Make sure that the milk is not scorching hot.
- Jaggery tastes best but you can also substitute with raw sugar.
- This tastes best when it is warm and is made just before it is eaten.
To receive recipes, tips and inspiration that feeds your body, mind and soul subscribe to Divine Taste newsletter