Pongalooooooooooooooooooo Pongal!! Pongalooooooooooo Pongal!! 😀
How many of you actually let your Pongal pongu-fy (spill over) today? Well, I did! And it was fun to watch. I was so caught up in the moment, that I completely forgot to take a pic and share with you all…shame! Pongal/Makara Sankranthi is an Indian harvest festival that is celebrated in January; it is the first festival in the New Year. There are many ways in which people wish each other on this day – “Til-Gud Ghya, Ghod Ghod Bol” translates to “Yellu-bella tindu, olle maatanaadu” in Kannada, which literally means “Have til and jaggery; say nice, sweet words/things”. Although Sankranti is celebrated for just one day across the rest of India, Pongal for us is a 3-day event of fervent celebrations. The first day, Bhogi Pongal, is celebrated by discarding old clothes and materials to mark the end of the old and emergence of the new. The second day, Surya Pongal (the main festival), is celebrated by making salt and sweet rice offerings (namely Venn Pongal and Chakkara Pongal) to the Sun God, from the rice of the new harvest. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is when bulls, cows and other farm animals are worshipped. On this day, we also keep food (curd rice pidis/balls, and raw turmeric roots chopped into small pieces) for crows and sing a song for them to get them married. I always found this custom very cute. We sing a song that goes like “Kaake pidi vechein, kannu pidi vechein, kakegalukku yellam kalyanam, kalyanam” as we keep the food for the crows. This little verse means “I have kept food for the crows, its wedding time for all the crows”. I always follow this custom and keep checking back on the terrace at intervals, to see if the crows ate my offerings and got married! 😀 Once this ritual is done with, we make 5 different types of rice dishes – both sweet and salt, and needless to say, devour them later on! Pongal, if you ask me, is just a festival of rich foods! Now, which Indian festival isn’t, you’d ask! 😉
Here is a picture of my offerings to the Sun God –
Most people add mustard seeds, curry leaves, coriander etc to their Pongal. However, I make it the traditional way. Apart from salt, I use just two spices, namely jeera and pepper, to add flavour to my Venn Pongal.
- Rice – 1 measure
- Moong Dal (split) – 1/4 measure
- Turmeric Powder – 1/4 tsp
- Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
- Jeera/Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
- Pepper – 10-15 corns; coarsely pounded/powdered
- Salt – to taste
- Ghee – 3 tsps (feel free to use more if you feel like making it rich; I save the make-it-rich bit for Chakkara Pongal!)
- Cashew – 10-12 pieces (fried in ghee till golden brown)
- Slightly dry-roast the moong dal for 2 minutes, till fragrant. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pressure cook the rice and roasted moong dal along with turmeric powder and a pinch of asafoetida, till done. Set aside.
- In a wok, heat 1 tsp ghee. Add a pinch of asafoetida. Add the jeera and allow to splutter.
- Add the cooked rice-dal mixture. You may want to add some warm water to adjust the consistency if it is too thick.
- Add the coarsely powdered pepper corns and salt. Stir well.
- Add the remaining 2 tsps of ghee. Allow to cook on a medium flame for 3-5 minutes and remove from flame.
- Garnish with fried cashew. Serve hot with a (generous) dollop of ghee! 😀
You can find the recipe for Chakkara Pongal here.
Alright, I’m off to do some yellu-beeru-fying now. In Karnataka, men, women and children, visit friends and relatives and exchange pieces of sugarcane, and something called ‘sakkare acchu’ (crystallized sugar, moulded in different shapes and colours) and a mixture of – roasted til (yellu), jaggery (bella), pieces of dry coconut, peanuts and fried gram, all as a symbol of the need to be generous and kind to everyone. The significance of this exchange is that sweetness should prevail in all dealings.
Happy Pongal to you all; Bon Appetit!