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January 12, 2016

Sankranti Ellu Bella, and so many memories....| ಸಂಕ್ರಾಂತಿ ಎಳ್ಳು ಬೆಲ್ಲ | Heirloom Recipes |

So many memories.......

This post is long overdue. Its been 5 years since I began blogging, yet simple but nostalgic recipes like this were always eluding me.

I felt I HAD to preserve this recipe (which is actually not a recipe, but so many memories) before it vanished away from the dimming contours of my brain :D .. Without mom around this year, I wasnt even sure I would make it, but when I spoke to her, she explained the nuances and tips/ tricks to make them perfect. It looks great now, am sure it would taste good when we partake it after the Sankranti Pooja. 

beware :: long post alert !!

Hailing from Bangalore, I was wondering why I didnt take the effort all these years after the marriage, when Pongal festivals / Sankranti only meant making different varieties of Pongal and this was pushed to the backburner !! 

Am glad however I could make it this year....

Uttarayan (aka Tula Sankramanam or Sankranti or Pongal festival) marks the beginning of the harvest season.  Sun God is worshipped, and Til (sesame) is one of the prominent offerings to the God. Be it in the form of Gajak, Till Ladoo ( Ellu Urundai) or today’s post – Sankranti Ellu Bella – is offered to visitors and also friends / relatives.

Til is considered to be sacred in Hinduism and naturally, each region has its own concoction of using this oil seed in its offerings.

Coming back to the recipe - which is almost like a trail mix of various nuts and sesame and jaggery. When I think about this, I see two women slaving over the kersosene stove late into the night (cooking gas was expensive then) and labour intensive stuff like these had to be made on kerosene stoves.

Mom and Pati (my maternal grandmom) finish their daily cooking, and in the dim light of the red oxide floored kitchen, make this trail mix not by grams or pounds – but by the bucketful (literally!!) .. Preps began atleast a week before Sankranti, and the best of the ingredients were sourced, cleaned – all by hand, and untouched by the rest of the family till it was offered to God.

Giving and sharing this eLLu Bella was considered to be partaking of others’ happiness and “eLLu Beerodhu” (that is sharing these packets from house to house) accompanied with the piece of cut sugarcane, Sakkare Achchu (Sugar candy dolls), a piece of betel leaf and a few coins. These offerings (or Tamboolam)  covered with a handmade round crochet made by mom taken from house to house, where it was exchanged for a similar set of tamboolam from the neighbour.

We used to put this away and rush back to the next neighbor till we covered the entire stretch of road. And then the real happiness of munching on these…J

As kids, me and my sister looked forward to munching on these once they were distributed : so much so that once we went back to school the next day, classmates also exchanged their homemade versions of these..

And lunch breaks (we didn’t have any snack break back then) were devoted to chomping on these once the lunch dabbas were done with, and the hard jaggery, the slightly bittersweet bits of coconut, the nuttiness from the roasted sesame and peanut transported us to a heavenly experience….

Who heard of vegan, gluten free, nut allergies back then ??

Perhaps the guiltfree snacking and healthy eating led us to appreciate simple pleasures of making , distributing and snacking on this trail mix..

I wish my kids my girls would appreciate these simple pleasures of life, and fervently hope that they take it forward.

It’s a labour of love. Period.

Prep time : 1 hour + 2 days of sun drying | Cook time : 15-20 mins |
Makes : approx. 250 gms of trail mix

White Til (sesame) – dehusked – ½ cup
Peanuts – ½ cup
Copra (dry Coconut) – 100 gms (or 2 small halves)
Fried Gram / Hurigadale / Pottu Kadalai – ½ cup
Jaggery – 150 gms

Day 1 :  lightly scrape the outer covering of copra, with a heavy sharp knife, make longish strips and then stack the strips together and cut into small bits. Sun dry this on a metal plate for 1-2 hours (take care to sun dry them in a dust free place)

Day 2 : Chop jaggery with the sharp knife into slightly bigger pieces and similarly sun dry them for 1-2 hours

Day 3 :

1) In a dry skillet, roast the peanuts on a very low flame till the skin starts to come off and they brown a bit. Transfer to a plate. Cool. Rub these peanuts In a burlap sheet / coarse clean towel and rub together till the skin peels off and all peanuts are broken into half. (You can completely skip this roasting and peeling if using good quality readymade unsalted roasted and shelled peanuts).

2) In the same pan, on low heat, pop the sesame seeds (as they are dehusked they wont splutter), but just warm them for 20-30 secs without burning them. Cool into a plate

3) similarly dry roast coconut slivers till just warm. Transfer to plate. Dry roast fried gram for 10-15 seconds till just warm, transfer.

4) In the end,switch off the stove and dry roast the jaggery for 10-15 seconds (this is optional, but recommended to remove any residual moisture)

Cool all 5 ingredients. In a large clean bowl, mix all of them.
Store them in airtight containers. They keep upto a week on the countertop.

  • If you have any elders / kids who are unable to consume these as such, powder a handful and shape into ladoos with a tsp of ghee. But then the shelf life is only for 1-2 days for the ladoos.
  • Use best quality ingredients to get great results
  • Use dry jaggery (or achchu vellam / Achchu Bella) for jaggery component. Paagu Vellam (or the softer variety) will melt even as you are chopping them.
  • Scraping copra makes the cutting process very simple. Else its really hard to chop the same into bits. If you have an adike kathri (betelnut cutter), make sure you use them to chop the jaggery and copra finely.

Hope you enjoyed the festival series this week at Blogging Marathon with Anjaneyar Milagu Vadai & Kalkandu Pongal 


  1. Lovely post Kalyani. So many memories are associated with food and it was really nice reading your post.
    Ellu bella is such a nutritious and healthy snack.

  2. I always feel food with memories is the best kind. Good to read about your memories :-)

  3. Ellu bella looks very healthy snack and perfect to munch on in cold days.

  4. Omg, wat a post and lovely memories, seriously enjoyed reading.. Ellu bella is definitely a healthy snack.

  5. wow loved all the clicks. Where did you get the serveware from?

    1. just now saw this comment, Vidhya. lugged the serve ware from Hyderabad :-))

  6. I remember enjoying this ellu bella but sadly, I no longer make this here.

  7. Makes me nostalgic. Used to love ellu Bella as a kid.

  8. Love to read the different traditions and absolutely gorgeous clicks!

  9. Love your write up Kalyani. I lived in Karnataka for nearly 8 years and your post is bringing back beautiful memories.

  10. what a nostalgic and well written post - really loved reading it

  11. Hi, do u hv recipe for sarkkare acchu (i think kannadigas prepare these too during sankranti)? TQ


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