Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Pongalo Pongal !!!!!

Pongal pandikai Yendral yenna ?What is pongal festival ?
-content courtsey www.pongalfestival.org

Pongal has astronomical significance: it marks the beginning of
Uttarayana, the Sun's movement northward for a six month period. InHinduism, Uttarayana is considered auspicious, as opposed to Dakshinaayana, or the southern movement of the sun. All important events are scheduled during this period. Makara Sankranthi refers to the event of the Sun entering the zodiac sign of Makara or Capricorn.
In Hindu temples bells, drums, clarinets and conch shells herald the joyous occasion of Pongal. To symbolize a bountiful harvest, rice is cooked in new pots until they boil over. Some of the rituals performed in the temple include the preparation of rice, the chanting of prayers and the offering of vegetables, sugar cane and spices to the gods. Devotees then consume the offerings to exonerate themselves of past sins.
Pongal signals the end of the traditional farming season, giving farmers a break from their monotonous routine. Farmers also perform puja to some crops, signaling the end of the traditional farming season. It also sets the pace for a series of festivals to follow in a calendar year. In fact, four festivals are celebrated in Tamil Nadu for four consecutive days in that week.
'Bogi' is celebrated on January 13, 'Pongal' on Jan 14, 'Maattuppongal'on Jan 15, and 'Thiruvalluvar Day' on Jan 16.

The festival is celebrated for four days. On, the first day, Bhogi, the old clothes and materials are thrown away and fired, marking the beginning of a new life. The second day, the Pongal day, is celebrated by boiling fresh milk early in the morning and allowing it to boil over the vessel - a tradition that is the literal translation for Pongal. People also prepare savories and sweets, visit each other's homes, and exchange greetings. The third day, Mattu Pongal, is meant to offer thanks to the cows and buffaloes, as they are used to plough the lands. On the last day, Kanum Pongal, people go out to picnic.
A festival called
Jalli kattu is held in Madurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjavur,all in Tamil Nadu, on this day. Bundles of money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls which the villagers try to retrieve. Everyone joins in the community meal, at which the food is made of the freshly harvested grain. This day is named and celebrated as Tamilar Tirunal through out Tamil Nadu.
Bhogi PongalThe first day of Pongal known as 'Bhogi Pongal' is a day for family gathering and is dedicated to Lord Indra, the king of the deities and God of the Clouds and Rains. Offerings are made to him to please him so that he blesses us for the plentiful harvest. It is also the beginning of the New Year according to the Malayalam calendar and before sunrise, a huge
bonfire of useless things in home is lit that is kept burning throughout the night. All the time, boys beat little buffalo-hide drums known as 'Bhogi Kottus'. The houses are then cleaned till they shine and are decorated with Kolams painted using rice four. There are yellow pumpkin flowers are set in cow-dung balls in the middle of these designs.
Surya PongalThe second day of Pongal known as 'Surya Pongal' is dedicated to the Sun God. The granaries are kept full on this day and Sun God with his rays are
painted on a plank as he is worshiped with the birth of the new auspicious month of Thai.
Since the word 'Ponga' means 'to boil' representing plentiful and excess yield, a special dish is cooked on this day in a new mud-pot that comes in innovative shapes and have artistic designs on them called 'Pongapani'. The special dish is called 'Sarkkarai Pongal' and is offered to Sun God with sugarcane sticks. It is said that Lord Sundareshwar performed a miracle on this day in the Madurai temple and breathed life into a stone elephant who ate sugarcanes. One can see the depiction of the event in the Meenakshi temple.Mattu Pongal
The third day known as 'Mattu Pongal' is dedicated to the cattle as cowherds and shepherds pay thanks to their cows and bulls, paint their horns and cover them with shining metal caps.
They are fed 'Pongal' and tinkling bells are tied around the
ir neck. Cattle races are conducted and in the game called 'Manji Virattu' groups of young men chase running bulls. Bull fights called 'Jallikattu' are also arranged at some places where young men have to take the money bags tied to the horns of ferocious bulls single-handedly and without the use of arms. Lord Ganesha and Goddess Parvati are also worshiped
on this day. At some other places, this day is celebrated as Kanu Pongal when girls feed colored balls of cooked rice to the birds and crows and pray for their brothers'
happiness and that they always remember them.
Kaanum Pongal
The fourth day is termed as Kaanum Pongal. On this day, people travel to see other family members. On this day, the younger members of the family pay homage to the elders, and the
elders thank them by giving token money. Another thing many do is leave food out on banana leaves for birds to take. Many South Indian people will take the first bit of rice cooked in any given day and set it outside for the crows to take, so this is not necessarily a habit only
for Pongal.

Pongal recipes

Avial is one of the most popular side dishes of Tamil Nadu. It is specially prepared on the festival of Pongal. This dish is very healthy and delicious, as a variety of vegetables is used to make it. Apart from that, it also has channa and urad dal as its ingredients.


Drumstick (Muringakai)
Chenai (Yam)Vala Kai (Green Plantain / Raw Plantain)CarrotBeans
Mango (if not using Yogurt)
Kathirikkai / Brinjal2 - 3 green chilles slit

Cut all the above vegetables into a medium thin strip (similar to our small finger - hope that's

more easy way to explain).

Add 1 tspoon of chille powder, 1 tspoon of turmeric powder, salt to taste and boil till the vegetable are done in very
small quantity of water (as most of the vegetables we are using have water in them it is more than enough if we add less
Grind together desired quantity of fresh scrapped coconut (to get the real taste) along with 2 -

4 red chilles and a tspoon
full of cumin seed (no need to grind with water and make a smooth paste).
Now add 2 - 3 spoons of curd or yogurt to the boiled vegetables if not using mango or tamarind, lower the heat let it mix
with the vegetables, then add the ground coconut, mix well, let the vegetables coat nicely with

ground coconut, off the
stove / gas, decorate it finally with curry leaves and 1 - 2 spoons of coconut oil.

This is a traditional 'AVIYAL' receipe, hope all will enjoy making and having it. It is also a nutritious and good healthfood as it contains almost all vegetables.

The Rice recipes are as follows
Pongal is a harvest festival of India, mainly celebrated all over Tamil Nadu and some other parts of South India. The festival is celebrated as a form of Thanksgiving to God, for all the goodness created by him. Food is an important part of Pongal and there is a wide range of recipes that are prepared as a part of the celebration. Pongal is one of those delicacies.

  • 2 cup Jeeraka samba/basmati/raw rice
  • 1/2 cup Moong Dal
  • 4 tsp Ghee
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 10-12 pieces Cashew Nuts (roasted or fried)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • Clean and wash thoroughly the rice and dal. Boil them together in 5 cups of water in a deep pan. When cooked, keep them aside.
  • In a separate shallow pan, heat the ghee and stir fry cumin seeds and cashew nuts slightly and separately.
  • Add it to the rice and dal. Add salt and pepper and serve hot.

Sarkkarai Pongal

Pongal is one of the very famous and much-awaited harvest festivals celebrated in South India. To celebrate the festivity of Pongal, traditional recipes are prepared in every household. Sarkkarai Pongal is one of the special dishes for the occasion. It is prepared in an earthen pot, on the second day of Pongal. Sarkkarai Pongal is a very simple and easy-to-make dish, which gives a mouth
watering taste.

  • 2 cup Basmati Rice
  • 1/4 liter Milk
  • 1½ cup moong Dal
  • 1 cup Jaggery
  • 12-15 pieces Roasted Cashew Nuts or Fried Raisins
  • 12-15 pieces Almonds
  • 1/2 tsp Cardamom (dried and grounded)
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  • 1 pinch Edible Camphor
  • In a deep pan, boil the milk. Add rice and dal and turn it on low flame after Cleaning and washing them thoroughly.
  • Stir in the Jaggery until it dissolves. When the rice and dal are cooked, add raisins and nuts, grounded cardamom and edible camphor keep while stirring continuously.
  • Pour ghee before taking off the fire. Serve it hot or cold as desired.

Paal Pongal

Pongal, a harvest festival with major significance South India, is celebrated by preparing a wide
variety of traditional recipes. Sweet Pongal is one of the popular dishes that mark their presence on Pongal. The dish sweetens the celebration and sets on the festive mood. Pongal is an occasion to indulge in celebrations and merry making.

  • 2 litres Milk
  • 10 Almonds
  • 1½ cups Newly Harvested Rice
  • 1/4 cup Moong dal
  • 15 Cashew Nuts
  • 1½ cup Hard sugar candy(Kalkand)
  • 30 Kishmish
  • 1/4 level-tsp Nutmeg Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Saffron Crushed
  • 1 tsp Cardamom Powder
  • 2 tbsp Ghee
  • Chop almonds and cashew nuts and clean kishmish. Pour milk in the earthen pot called `Pongapani` and place it on fire.
  • When the milk starts boiling add rice and dal, after washing. As soon as the rice and dal are cooked to softness, add Sugar candy and ghee.
  • Let cook on medium fire for some time and then put in almond and cashew nut bits, saffron nutrieg and cardamom powders.
  • Finally put in the Kishmis. Bring to one or two good boils

Puli Pongal
  • 2 cups Broken Raw Rice
  • Tamarind - small lemon size (soaked in water)
  • 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1 tsp Chana Dal
  • Dry Red Chilies (according to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
  • 1/4 cup Sesame Oil
  • A sprig of Curry Leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • Keep the measured tamarind juice. For every cup of broken rice add 2 1/4 cups of tamarind juice.
  • Heat oil in a pressure pan. Now add mustard seeds and when it splutters add the Chana dal.
  • When the Chana dal is lightly brown, add turmeric powder, asafoetida, dry red chilies and curry leaves.
  • Then add the tamarind juice. When it begins to boil, add the broken rice and the required amount of salt.

Thus, the harvest festival of Pongal symbolizes the veneration of the first fruit. The crop is harvested only after a certain time of the year, and cutting the crop before that time is strictly prohibited. Even though Pongal was originally a festival for the farming community, today it is celebrated by all. In south India, all three days of Pongal are considered important. However, those south Indians who have settled in the north usually celebrate only the second day. Coinciding with Makara Sankranti and Lohri of the north, it is also calledPongal Sankranti.