Friday, July 2, 2010

Venn Pongal- a Festival Favourite

I happened to be traveling to India with my husband in 2005 around the Pongal festival, the start of the harvest season. It is the only festival in the Hindu calendar that is based on the solar system. The name of the festival is derived from the rice pudding pongal. Pongal means something overflowing. The festival starts on January 13th (the start of the New Year in Moldova, the Julian Calendar), and it lasts for a few days.

Some of the photos taken on Pongal :

On Pongal morning, my beautiful sister- in- law Suki painted this Kolum in front of her house by connecting dots perfect symmetry-is that not how computers work?

Majestic Nandi (the Holy Cow), photo taken during our trip to Thiruvannamalai, which happened to be on Pongal Day

One of the Thiruvannamalai temple gopurams

The graceful and seductive saree

My niece, sister-in -law and me- veiled because of the scorching sun!

A blooming tree in the Sathanur Dam park

Now back to Pongal.
There are quite a few pongal dishes, some sweet and some savory, all served on specific days during the festival. I learned to make Venn Pongal from my mother-in-law, and it is one of our favorites as snack or main dish. It can be served with sambar or chutney, but I chose to make Vatral Kozhambu (the pronounciation of the second one is tricky:-).

Here is the recipe:

  • 1 cup raw rice
  • 1/2 cup yellow split moong bean (dal)
  • 1 tablespoon Salt
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)

  • 10 peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 cashew nuts
  • Curry leaves- a few
  • Grated ginger - 1/2 tsp

  1. Wash the rice and the split mung dal and pressure cook along with salt, 1/2 tsp clarified butte for 10 minutes
  2. Mash the rice with a spatula if it is not mushy.
  3. Heat ghee, add cumin seeds, pepper corns. When the seeds splutter, add the grated ginger, chopped curry leaves, cashew and fry for a couple of seconds on medium flame.
  4. When the cashew turns golden color add the seasoning to the cooked rice and dal mixture.
  5. Mix well and serve hot.

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