Pongal offering

Pongal

Pongal outdoors

Pongal-the harvest festival that carries with it so much significance ! A ritual celebrated to give thanks to the land ,the Sun that is responsible for nurturing the crops ,the cows,the bulls which are so important to the farmer in many ways and provides us with our daily nourishment…gratitude for all this and for the grains that are stored in our home,which provide us food for the rest of the year…this is what Pongal is all about ! There are many harvest festivals celebrated all over the country in Punjab, Assam,Andhra Pradesh etc and around the world as well, in many countries !
The festival consists of more than just an offering of sweet rice to the Sun and other deities…it also signifies the beginning of a new month in the Sanskrit calendar…the practice of tying mango leaves over your front door or the act of drawing kolams (designs) on the ground with rice flour actually signify a particular purpose or intent !

The mango leaves contain anti-bacterial properties and when they are tied over the front door…the breeze wafting in carries these properties in and keeps the home free from certain household pests/insects ….the kolams made with rice flour on the ground in front of the home,provides food for ants,so they will not feel the need to come inside the home looking for sustenance…unfortunately sometimes,paint is used or a chemical powder is used to draw the kolams and this negates the purpose of it all !!!

pongal 2014

The experience of cooking pongal out in the open with firewood and brass and mud pots is something I have treasured from childhood and something that I hope to pass on to the next generation.Going through the same motions year after year puts one in a state of contentment and calm joy,thinking of all the family and friends that have shared this day with me in the past ! Blessings from my home to yours ! One pot is a ‘kalkandu pongal’ sweet rice with white rock candy,the other pot is rice and jaggery and the last one is with rice,jaggery and yellow lentils :)) ,all unique in their own way and taste extra special on this day,for sure !!!!

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Instructions

  • 1. Soak the rice and wash it well a few times with water
  • 2. Drain some of the water and set aside
  • 3. In a pot,add some of the water left from washing the rice and the 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil on the stove.
  • 4. Once it comes to a rolling boil,add the rice grains and stir
  • 5. Keep stirring once in a while until the rice is well cooked,the grains should be soft and squishy
  • 6. Now add the jaggery syrup and ghee and mix well,turn the fire on low or turn it off,make sure,most of the water has been absorbed....the residual heat in the pot will bring the flavours together.
  • 7. Add the fried cashewnuts and raisins and mix well.Mix in the saffron stands. Serve hot. Note: Do use the darkest organic jaggery you can find,it really does make a huge difference in flavour...since we are not big fans of cardamom in pongal we refrain from using it...most people do add it to the pongal. I do however recommend you try cooking it in a terracotta pot,at least once !
  • 8. Variation-to make the white pongal,instead of the jaggery,use 3C of powdered white rock candy and half a cup of milk after the rice is cooked ! Wishing you all peace,prosperity and joy in your home always ! Happy Pongal !

About Chef

Shanthini Rajkumar