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 nil.zero. 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.