Sakkare acchu which translates to sugar moulds in Kannada refers to figurines made using sugar syrup for Makar Sankranthi and other festive occasions. It is a festive speciality. “Sugar is always symbolic of festivities and of all things auspicious. Hence these figurines are prepared not only during Sankranti but also for celebratory occasions like weddings” says Badri Achar, 40 head priest, Kalyani Raghavendra Ashram, Bengaluru.
Making these figurines at home is an elaborate process and requires traditional wooden moulds. Each mould has a pattern (say a flower, animal, bird etc) and consists of two identical pieces which need to be coupled and then strapped tightly together. There is a hole in each of them through which the sugar syrup is passed. It is a step that is extremely important in the preparation as the syrup solidifies very quickly and one needs to fill it in the holes before it ‘stops flowing’.
While some people resort to using silicone moulds these days, most others prefer using store bought figurines. Brightly coloured (courtesy food colours) sakkare acchu packed neatly in boxes are readily available in most stores in Bangalore as well as online. Making them at home needs some practice and even though the recipe consists of just a couple of ingredients apart from sugar, getting the right consistency of the syrup is the secret to make the perfect doll.
Here is the recipe for home made Sakkare Acchu:
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2-3 tsp milk
- 2-3 tsp curd
- Juice of one lemon
- Wooden moulds
- Muslin cloth for filtering
- Soak the wooden moulds in water for at least 4-5 hours prior to preparing the Sakkare acchu. Pat dry with a towel and fix the identical pieces together using a string or rubber band. Keep it ready in a big plate with the holes facing upward.
- Take sugar in a thick bottomed vessel and add water (the quantity of water should be just enough to cover the sugar). Heat on a low flame while stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves completely.
- Filter this liquid using a muslin cloth to remove impurities.
- Put back the filtered sugar syrup on the stove and add the milk and curd. Mix and continue to stir till the mixture turns homogenous.
- Filter this liquid again using a muslin cloth to remove additional impurities.
- At this point divide the filtered sugar syrup into two parts and start heating one part while keeping the other aside.
- Stir continuously as the mixture begins to froth. Allow the mixture to thicken, this could take more than 10-15 minutes. As the liquid bubbles and boils remove from the stove, stir vigorously as it turns milky white and put it back onto the stove. Repeat this process at least 6-7 times until the liquid turns translucent. While the syrup is bubbling take a portion onto a spoon, if the bubbles stay longer on the spoon, it is a sign of the syrup becoming thick.
- Add the lemon juice at this point and continue to stir. You may need to repeat the process of taking it off the stove, stirring and putting it back until the liquid attains the consistency akin to castor oil.
- At this point, take it off the stove and pour into the moulds quickly. Since the syrup solidifies in a few seconds, it is preferred to work with small batches of the syrup.
- Wait for 5-10 minutes before removing the rubber bands. Gently demould using the sharp edge of a knife if necessary.
- Store in an air tight container.
An elaborate version of this article was published in The Sunday Hindu.