Friday, January 12, 2007

ven pongal and sakkara pongal

this is the month of margashirsha. and sadly it will end very soon. in the 'bhagavad gita' lord krishna says that among the twelve months,margashirsha is his favourite. in the south and particularly among the vaishnavite community,devout srivaishnavites chant the thirty paasurams(verses) called thiruppavai every morning in the early hours. composed by sri aandal,one of the twelve mystic saints- azhwars(deeply immersed in the love of the lord). besides chanting all the thirty, the first verse is sung at the end of the recital on the first day and the second one on the second day and so on and so forth. ven pongal(white pongal) is offerd to lord vishnu at home at the the end of the chanting. on the 27th day ,as per tradition, sakkara pongal(sweet pongal) is offered and on the 28th day,thayir saadam(curd rice) is offered. and pooran poli on the day of 'bhogi', a day precedimg pongal or makar sankranti. the sweetness in sakkara pongal comes from the jaggery.and the sweetness that oozes out of the sp is heavenly.

'margashirsha' is also called as the shunya(nil) maasa(month).shunya in sanskrit means no auspicious things are started during this month. no marriages,no gruha pravehsa(house warming),no upanayanams(sacred thread ceremony). one is expected to observe fast in the morning till completion of the chanting. and partake of the pongal after that. this is the month when you try to think of the lord all the time.

the 27th verse says : "vanquisher of foes,o supreme one, govinda;let these be our rewards for singing and praising and serving you,presents appreciated by the world;jewels for the wrists and shoulders,earrings and ear-flowers;anklets also; we all will wear new clothes and would then huddle together.sit comfortably and partake of rice cooked with milk overflowing with ghee that would drip down our elbows".

sakkarapongal is essentially a rice pudding made from rice milk and jaggery.there are some interesting legends on the origin of the pongal which i shall write on a separate posting on pongal day but here i will briefly give the recipe for those who want to try their hand at this delectable pudding.

take moong dal,rice,ghee,milk and jaggery. saute moong dal and rice in a few spoons of ghee. then boil them in a mixture of milk and water. take half a glass of water in another container and boil it. add jaggery in it and make a thick paste of it and boil it again. mix the moong dal and rice which was cooked earlier to this paste and then boil the whole stuff for ten minutes.
voila,sakkara pongal is now ready to be served! you might ask what on earth happened to the ven pongal. carried away by the sweetness of sp i just forgot about it. a quick recipe is given below.

take some cummin seeds and peppercorn and powder them coarsely. set it aside. roast the rice and green gram dal separately.mix together, wash well and add the turmeric powder and water. pressure cook and keep it separately. heat the ghee,oil,in the frying pan. add cumminseeds,peppercorns,asfoetida powder,grated ginger and curry leaves.add the cooked rice and dhal and mix well. add salt. add the grated coconut and some water if required. garnish with fried cashewnuts. serve hot with chutney or spicey tamarind kuzhambu.or with brinjal masiyal or sambhar.


Lotus Reads said...

Ooooo, thank you, thank you for the recipes! I am definitely going to have to try one or both of them. They look YUM, thank you!

Can I wish you a Happy Sankranti?

david mcmahon said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
gs said...

thanks lotus reads.i am happy that you are going to try making the pongal. do let me know the result!

A Virtual Vegetarian said...

Vennpongal is one of my comfort foods and my mom makes the best Vennpongal!

Her recipe calls for equal parts of water and milk to cook the moong dal and rice mixture. This method delivers a creamier texture similar to a risotto............

gs said...

hi avv
that's something novel.adding milk with water to cook the moong dal and rice.i will try it you like risotto? then go to my blog and search for risotto.

A Virtual Vegetarian said...

Yes, my first love is Italian food!

Sadly neither my son nor my hubby like Pongal and so I do not make it as often as I would like too.

I like to eat my vennpongal with vengayam do you eat yours?

Another thing my mom does is to dry roast the paasi parupa (skinned split moong dal) to a pale pink color and then cooks the rice, milk, water together. After it is done she divides the cooked mixture, one part goes to the make the vennpongal and the other half to shakarapongal.

gs said...

hello avv,
so you are a pasta and pizza person. i like both but have it only occasionally.early this year our whole family enjoyed an italian food festival at the 'taj',mumbai. donning the cap was chef luciano parolari from villa d'este.
pongal is also my comfort food. actually the pepper and ginger in it is good enough for me and i have no craving for an accompaniment. rice upma is another favourite with katthirikai gothsu to go with it. and i love mozh kali. it is a stand alone. and outstanding.