Pongal is the harvest festival which is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the Southern parts of India. Just like any other festival, Pongal has its own sets of traditional recipes which are dominated by the South Indian flavours! The 4-day festival is celebrated in order to thank God and the sun for giving us plenty of harvests. Let’s read more about the festival.
What is the significance of Pongal?
This year, the harvest festival starts from 14th of January and will end on 17th of January. The festival is believed to bring prosperity and good luck in our lives. Each day of it has its own importance and traditions.
Traditions of Pongal
For Pongal, Tamilian families decorate their house with ‘Kolams’, which are made by using colourful powders, white stone powder or rice powder. The decorations are made in order to welcome Goddess Lakshmi in the house, who is a symbol of wealth, happiness and prosperity. Along with this, making one sweet dish with rice, lentils and jaggery is a must. The dish is a way to thank the sun for providing the first harvest of the year. Read more about the four days of Pongal.
The first day of Pongal starts with the prayer which is offered to God Indra. A whole plate of traditional foods are offered to the God, most of it is made out of rice or jaggery.
The second day is dedicated to Sun God and for the prayer, a special harvest dish called ‘Sakkarai Pongal’ is offered to the God. The sweet dish is made with jaggery, rice, turmeric and lentils in a clay pot.
The third day is dedicated to cattle. To celebrate the day, cattle are decorated with colourful floral garlands and bells. Then, the puja is done and later, ‘Jallikattu’ (cattle race) is practised.
Kaanum means ‘to visit’, and as per the name, people organize a get-together, and they give and receive new clothes, money and authentic sweet dishes.
It is believed that Pongal is the time when the deities wake up after a 6-month long sleep and those who have died during the last 6 months period gets moksha during this time. Pongal is the only Hindu festival that follows the solar calendar, which makes it different from the rest.
As we have already mentioned above that this festival celebrates the new harvest and people offers dishes made with rice and jaggery to God but, as this celebration is huge for Tamilians, they prepare a variety of famous South Indian recipes which you can also try at home.
1. Sakkarai Pongal
This sweet dish is prepared with rice, jaggery and moong dal, and it is offered to God Indra on the first day of Pongal. Get the recipe here.
Payasam is nothing but a kheer recipe which is prepared with rice, milk and jaggery. To add more flavours, you can put dry fruits in it.
3. Sugarcane Pongal
This dish is sweet in taste and is offered to Sun for thanking him for the first harvest of the year.
4. Ven Pongal
This is a healthy breakfast option which is made with the southern spices and flavours. You can add dry fruits of your choice to make it more delicious. Get the easy recipe here.
5. Medu Vada
You can have this recipe as an evening snack during the festival of Pongal. It is made with a combination of dals and is served with sambhar and coconut chutney. Find the recipe here.
6. Tamarind Rice
This main dish is dark in colour as it uses tamarind puree as the main ingredient. It tastes best with plain curd. Follow the recipe here.
7. Lemon Rice
It is one of the most popular South Indian recipes. The tangy flavours of this dish are best enjoyed with sambhar or curd. Get the recipe here.
8. Coconut Rice
The perfect blend of South Indian flavours can be found in this main dish. Serve it with any curry of your choice. Find the easy recipe here.
9. Curd Rice
This is a one-pot meal which is made with thick curd, spices, white rice and sprouts. It is topped with a tempering of curry leaves and green chillies, which adds more taste to it. Get the recipe here.
10. Idli Sambhar
Last on the list is ‘ idli sambhar’, which is one of the most popular dishes from the South Indian cuisine. Made with the combination of rice and dal, idli is a very healthy food for having as a breakfast. Try it with veggie-loaded sambhar for a complete meal.