Saturday, 29 September 2007

Revival - Pongal Celebrations - For RCI

When Viji of Vcuisine announced this month's RCI event is related to Tamilnadu Festival Foods, the first thought that came into my mind is Pongal. The reason being, this is my most favourite festival which I celebrate with all my family members.
"May the pot of prosperity boil over
May the Pongal that we cook,
the fragrance of turmeric
the taste of sugarcane, ginger and honey
Bring the joy of Pongal into our homes
May the blessings of the Sun God flood our lives "

Poem source : Malini Bisen

Pongal is a Harvest Festival, mostly celebrated in south India. Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over." Traditionally celebrated at harvest time, it is a celebration of the prosperity associated with the harvest. Pongal is celebrated by the Indian state of Tamil Nadu as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Singapore. The festival has been in practice for some 5,000 years.

While Pongal is predominantly a Tamil festival, it is also celebrated in several other provinces with different names. In Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Karnataka, the harvest festival Sankranthi is celebrated. In northern India, Pongal is called Makara Sankranthi. In Maharashtra and Gujarat, it is celebrated on the date of the annual kite flying day, Uttarayan. It also coincides with the bonfire and harvest festival in Punjab and Haryana, known as Lohri. People of all relegion celebrate pongal festival in India.

Source: Wikipedia

You can find a lot of information about this festival here.

But I'ld also like to explain it in my own words too. No matter how busy we are, all my family members (mom's side) meet at our native place in Nellore district in Andhra on 14th of January. And on 15th of January we meet our paternal relatives and family members at our Dad's native place in Kurnool District in Andhra. My mom n dad often argues about where to spend these 4 days. So finally we ended up staying at both the places. The pictures below were taken during our family get togethers on the occasion of Pongal. The old one (you can easily guess where I am, I was the only girl child then) was in 1987 at my mom's native and the recent ones were taken in 2007 January at my parents’ native places. Until I stepped out of India, I did not miss even one year to attend this festival. Both my mom and dad hail from an agriculture based families and hence we all celebrate this festival in the most traditional way.

It's a festival related to Sun God…Celebrated for 4 days…From the 15 th of Dec to the 15th of January we call it as Dhanurmasam and we decorate our entrances with beautiful Rangolis/kolam/Rangavalli….I don't say am an expert in Rangolis, but I can design and I love putting down Rangolis….We also place Gobbemmalu (cow-dung balls with flowers) on the Rangoli and sing various songs. It was fun comparing and competing for the biggest Rangoli in the village during the festive season…My mama and ammamma love me a lot for putting down these Rangolis staying awake till late night or waking up early in the morning to put these.

The first day is known as Bhogi…..At about 5AM-6AM ammamma wakes us up and we all gather infront of our main entrance and put the Bhogi manta ….Fire with dried palm leaves…Today Indra (Bhogan or Bhogi) is worshiped for providing rain for harvest….Payasam/Kheer is offered to God….today we eat non-veg so our staple breakfast for this day would be Dosa with Chicken curry. In the evening if there are kids at home, we do the Bhogi pallu custom….All the elders at home bless the kid by showering a mixture of diced sugarcane, Akshinthalu (holy-rice), regu pallu (a kind of sour/red fruits..look like berries) and money coins……

The second day is the main day of the festival..known as Sankranthi. We worship the Sun God today and strictly stay away from non-veg… Traditional sweet pongal is cooked on stove with stones using wood for fuel in a holy vessel (mud pot decorated with turmeric and saffron) in an open courtyard…This is offered to God …Staple breakfast today would be Gaarelu/Vada with pappu/dal…. Today we remember our ancestors who are expired…In the evening we go to their tombs and offer coconut, pongal, flowers and worship their tombs.
The third day is known as Mattu Pongal or Kanuma…today we worship the cattle, cows for giving milk and oxes for ploughing and tools (plough etc)…We decorate the cattle with bells and flowers and take blessings from them…we thus honour their hardwork. On this day Mutton based curries are cooked…Chariott Rangoli is layed down today…

4th day is known as Mukkanuma and it is dedicated for outdoor celebrations and excursions.

All the first 3 days our family dhobi, hair cutter and other employees who served our ancestors for generations together (their grand children or someone frm their families) come home and we offer them food, money and clothes, thus honouring their services….Haridasu comes to every house in the village and he's also honoured….Budabukkalu saint also comes with this Gangireddu…I am not good at explaining about these concepts…But the pictures below can give you an idea who they are…

Image Source: Hinduimages

And now coming to the food section as the name itself indicates Pongal is the most common food offered to God. Other than this we also prepare arisalu/nippattlu, Murukku, regu vadalu for snacks…I don't have murukku making equipment and we also do not find regupallu here…So I am posting a couple of pongal recipes…. After penning down all these, I am really feeling nostalgic…missing all my family members..:(

Ok coming to the recipes these are easy to prepare.

Recipe for Sakkarai Pongal/Bellappongali/Jaggery rice pudding:
Raw rice - 1 cup
Moong dal - 1/2 cup
Milk - 2 cups Jaggery - 1 cup (adjust)
Cardamom - 4 pods (seeds powdered)
Cashews - 10
Raisins - 10
Almonds - 5
Ghee - 1-1.5 tbsp
1. Dry roast the moong dal in an iron skillet and cool (you can avoid this step)
2. Wash the rice. Take the rice, moong dal, milk in a pressure cooker.
3. Add 1.5 cups of water and cook for 3 whistles. Let it cool until the pressure is released.
4. Take a saucepan, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of jaggery and bring to boil.
5. Add this jaggery syrup to the rice mixture.
6. Put on medium flame and keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Add the cardamom powder and mix well. Turn off the flame.
7. Heat the Ghee in small pan and roast the almonds, cashews and raisins until the cashews turn golden brown.
8. Add these roasted nuts along with the ghee to the pongal and mix well.

Recipe for Ven Pongal/Katte Pongal/Pulagam:

Raw rice - 1 cup
Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
Milk - 1 cup
Black peppercorns - 8
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Curry leaves - 8
Ghee - 1.5 tbsp
Cashews - 10

1. Wash the rice and moong dal (moong dal can be dry roasted too)
2. In a pressure cooker take the washed rice, moong dal, milk and add 2.5 cups of water.
3. Cook for 3 whistles. Let it cool until the pressure is released.
4. Open the lid, add salt and mix well.
5. In a pan heat the Ghee. Roast the cumin, pepper corns, curry leaves and cashews.
6. Add this mixture to the rice pongal and mix well.

These are my entries to RCI , an event started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine and hosted by Viji of Vcuisine this month with Tamil Festivals as the theme.

Sorry if you guys felt this description more like that of a family event and got bored...:)


Coffee said...

That was a wonderful post keerthi! Good peek into the traditions of tamilnadu. :)

Asha said...

Keerthi, I enjoyed every bit of it girl.Great post. Excellent entry.
My immediate family is like hippies,didn't do much ritualsat all but my grand parents did do all these!:)

Pravs said...

Great post..i am new to your blog..enjoyed reading this post, looking through the pictures and thats a yummy looking pongal.

Latha Narasimhan said...

Nice post Keerthi! loved that rangoli! The pongal panai is the one villagers use on day of pongal in our native place! we always use a bronze paanai!:))

Rajitha said...

keerthi..r u in the white salwaar kammez..u are so cute. i love to put rangolis too.

bee said...

thank you for the informative and beautiful post, keerthi. it was a wonderful glimpse into your native place and its culture.

Rina said...

Beautiful coverage. Love the Sakarai pongal. I cook this often at home.

Suganya said...

It is nice to meet the extended family and celebrate this important festival together. I enjoyed reading yr post :)

Vcuisine said...

Keerthi, nice idea to repost it. This post is not to be ignored. Very informative and all information given in brief. Thank you for the wonderful entry. Have a good day. Viji

Seena said...

Great post, Keerthi,
glad to know about the festival and the traditions..

sunita said...

Hey families are to be appreciated, so don't worry...that was a lovely post.

Kajal said...

WOW......Both recipe of Pongal is lovely. You use yellow moog dal? Thanks for sharing with lots of information. I think you enjoy this 4 days with lots of love. Rangoli is very nice. My papa birthday is 14th Jan so we also celebrate this day with lots of variety food. When all family together then we celebrate any festival very well. You have nice memory. I love your flower shape Diva. This is very nice entry for Tamil Festivals.:))

Nags said...

such lovely array of pics. and i can't believe you are done with RCI for october. I have no idea what I will make :)

priyah said...

a very well writtena nd descriptive post... the rangoli is beautiful da...

Happy cook said...

Wow For posting all the information abiut pongal i have to thankyou.
Each picture looks beautiful.
Viji is going to be really happy with your entry

Nirmala said...

Beautiful pictures. Reminds of where my folks were born and how I need to get back for a visit. Way too long. Thanks for sharing.

Laavanya said...

Great post Keerthi. It was good to read about how your family celebrates Pongal... I love doing Kolams too and infact used to do the honors for my neighbours' houses as well.. :)

Mansi Desai said...

wow Keerthi! beautiful pics, esp the first 3, and all the recipes sound like sure wins!! My bhahi is a tamilian, and I'm sur eshe'll drool over this post!:D

Kalpana said...

baaga raasaaru.

Apple said...

@Coffee..Thanku so much....I do not know much abt the traditions in Tamilnadu..All I've posted is about the way we celebrate in Andhra...guess both are nearly the same..

@Asha..'m glad that you enjoyed this loooonnngg entry...

@Pravs...Thanks for visiting dear..

@Latha...Is the Panaai u r refering to is the vessel/pot? Now a days not so many villages are using the mud pot :(

@Rajitha..yeah that's me..Thanku so much

@Bee...Thanks a lot dear..I've thoroughly enjoyed posting it...

@Rina..Thanku...Sakkarai pongal is the common naivedyam I offer to God..easy to prepare..

@Suganya..thanks a lot...I initially hesitated to post this, bcoz it was more a like a family event..Glad to know that you liked it..

@Viji..Thanku thanku...My next entries would be simple I promise..:D

@Seena..Thanku so much

@Sunita....Thanks a lot...I love joint families and I enjoyed to the fullest when in India..

@Kajal..Thanku..yeah we use moong dal...So you celebrate the patang festival along with your papa's bday?

@Nags...hehehe..yeah even I thought that I'm too early this time...couldn't wait to post abt my fav festival for long..:D

@Priyah..Blush blush ;;) Thanku dear...

@Happy cook..Thanku very much

@Nirmala..Even I felt nostalgic while posting this...a Lotttttt

@Laavanya..Thanks a lot...

@Mansi, Kalpana..Thanku so much

Padma said...

Such a wonderful post on Pongal celebrations nice to see your family tree and tradition...Hmm I miss Boghi much

Nice entry Keerthi!

Suma Gandlur said...

Great post and lovely pictures.
Did you ever go to Penna river bank during the sankranthi evenings? I was at Nellore once during Sankranthi and we had a blast.
Are you that cute girl who is putting rangoli?

remya said...

keerthi,really wonderful...wat more to say "pongaloo pongal",nice presentation about pongal n lovely dishes.hy rangoli is very nice....enjoyed reading the post n nice snaps....nice entry to RCI....

Sirisha Kilambi said...

beautiful post Keerthi.....Loved all the pics and ur family story...U must have had hell of a funtime with both the families right........Nice dear.......A neat compromise ur parents have worked out ....:-)) going to both the places :-)

TBC said...

Beautiful post. Are you the pretty girl in the white salwar kameez?
You look sosimilar to Madhoo of Roja fame;-)

Shella said...

Those are some beautiful family pics.

Menu Today said...

Hi Keerthi,

Detailed post about Pongal...
Nice pic.. Thanks for sharing.

Anu said...

Wonderful post. Tasty pongal and fun filled family photos. Looks lovely :)

I am Anu from My Scrawls. I have posted my version of Ven pongal in my blog. Do visit my blog in ur free time. Would be happy to receive ur comments :)