This dish from South India is not only rich in nutrients but also makes for a perfect offering to please the God during certain Indian festivals.
Makar Sankranti, a Hindu festival, is celebrated across India on either of the three days every year – January 14, 15 or 16 depending upon the lunar calendar. According to the celestial calendar, this is the time when the sun moves from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn. It commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The festival is known by different names in different cities across India – Lohri in northern India, Bogali Bihu in Assam and Pongal in Tamil Nadu. Farmers across the country offer thanksgiving prayers to natural forces – sun, rain, soil – as well as animals for helping the harvest. Prepared out of rice and lentil, Ven Pongal is the offering made to the Sun during the festival. Sports like kite flying, bullock race and bull fights are also organised.
1. Wash rice and dal. Or else roast them on a low flame before they are cooked.
2. To cook add four to five cups of water in a pressure cooker, add turmeric powder and salt and cover the lid until four to five whistles. A little milk can be added to it. This is optional.
3. Fry cumin seeds, cashew nuts, pepper corn and curry leaves for a few seconds on a low flame in butter or ghee. Add this to the cooked rice and lentils. Pongal is ready.
4. Serve pongal hot with coconut chuttney, sambar or pickle.
Enjoy the healthy yet delicious Pongal on a busy morning or a lazy afternoon.
This article has been published in our India&You Magazine (Jan-Feb 2016) Issue. Click here to buy the e-magazine.