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Pongal is a traditional harvest festival celebrated by the Tamils across the globe. It is a significant festival because it inter-relates almost all the Tamil people who are either directly or indirectly involved in agricultural activities.  

 

Harvest festivals are celebrated in various cultures in various forms, but the harvest festival of Tamils is special in its own wayThe Tamil staple food comprises of rice, dal, kara kuzhambu, poriyal, kootu, rasam, mor and pappad spread on a banana leaf. Similar to such variety, the Pongal harvest festival is also loaded with a variety of activities.

 

As it is a harvest festival; food is given paramount importance and there is a food named as the same PONGAL– which is signature dish of the festival.  Tamil culture has always had a diversified approach and that’s the reason why even the dish Pongal is made in two varieties such as sweet Pongal (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்) and the Tamil spice engraved Pongal (வெண்பொங்கல்).   

 

In addition to the variety of the dish, the making of the dish itself has significance. As the festival is celebrated on “Thai-muthal naal” (தை1 (14th January)) the dish is prepared at the time of the beginning of the Tamil month “Thai. Traditionally this dish is prepared in a decorated mudpot on firewood. The day is embarked by people sharing sugarcane (another signature food), home-made sweets, and savouries to their neighbourhood to spread the Joy.  

 

Historically, Tamil farmers deployed ox or bull for ploughing and other farming activities, and it is even practised today although we live in a mechanised world. As these bulls have shared the toil with the farmers, they are given a special day in Pongal (தை -2 (Jan 15th)) and on this day they are celebrated and given godly importance. That day is marked by the significant, world-famous “Jalli Kattu” a brave sport similar to the Spanish bullfight. This event happens across various places but the event in ‘Alanganallur’ is the most famous one. Although this event has been updated and modified taking care of all the animal rights, it is conducted every year as the sport brings out and signifies the bravery rooted in the Tamil culture.  

 

As agriculture is always known as one of the riskiest tasks; after the harvest, the farmers thank everyone which includes family, friends and all the well-wishers who had helped them during the cultivation period (தை -3 (Jan 16th)). Thus, the festival always reminds the Tamil culture of being grateful to all who stood with them during tough times including natural forces such as Sun, Water and Soil. Additionally, the festival also reminds the bravery which runs in the Tamil blood.    

 

This year the Tamil community was extremely delighted as the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his joyous wish for Pongal to the Tamil community. We, the Tamil community, always welcome everyone to explore our Tamil culture and heritage and at the same time, we also request to join hands to be thankful for all the natural forces and farmers who help us in providing food on the table. 

 

Lastly, we warmly welcome you or request you to taste Pongal (rice pudding) at home.  

பொங்கலோ பொங்கல் !!

 

 

Recipe for Sweet Pongal  (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்) 

Ingredients

Raw rice-1 Cup 

Moong dal (Green gram split) ¾ Cup 

Jaggery- 100 grams (Based on taste can be increased ) 

Cardamom- 4 nos 

Dry ginger powder- 1 pinch 

Salt- a small pinch  

Milk- 1 Cup 

Cashew nuts- 10 nos  

Dry grapes- 10 (optional) 

Ghee- 2 Tablespoon 

 

Procedure 

Step 1: Soak raw rice and moong dal for 30 minutes after washing thoroughly in running water. 

Step 2: Break jaggery into small pieces and allow it to boil in water till it dissolves. 

Step 3: Boil milk and keep it aside.  

Step 4: Take a pot and add 4 cups of water allow it to boil when it boils add the soaked raw rice and moon dal after draining the soaked water.  

Step 5: Allow it to be cooked 10-12 minutes (stir occassionaly to avoid lumps/burns). 

Step 6: Then add the strained jaggery water to it. 

Step 7: Then add milk. Now allow it to cook in low flame for 10-15 minutes. 

Step 8: Now fry the Cashew nuts and dry grapes (separately fry them).  

Step 9: Add Cardomom and dry ginger powder.  Remove the Pongal from the flame and add a pinch of salt. 

Step 10: Season it with Cashew nuts and dry grapes.  Additionally, add more ghee for taste.  

 

Recipe for Spicy Pongal  ( வெண்பொங்கல்) 

Ingredients 

Raw rice – 1 Cup 

Moong dal(Green gram split)- ¾ Cup 

Cashew nuts- 10 nos 

Black Pepper(Whole)- 1 teaspoon 

Cumin seeds- 1 teaspoon 

Ghee- 2 tablespoon 

Salt- As per taste preference 

 

Procedure 

Step 1: Soak raw rice and moong dal for 30 minutes after washing thoroughly in running water. 

Step 2: Roast Cashew nut (golden brown, keep it aside). 

Step 3: Take 4 cups of water in a pot, allow it to boil and soaked rice and dal after draining the soaked water.  

Step 4: Allow it to cook for 10-15 minutes under a medium flame. 

Step 5: Add salt to taste. 

Step 6: Saute pepper and cumin seeds in Ghee (separately).  

Step 7: Add the pepper and cumin in the pot were rice and dal is being cooked. Stir until you get the consistency. 

Step 8: Remove from the flame and garnish it with cashew nuts and serve hot with any dip (chutney) made from coconut or peanut.  

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