Pongal, the Thanksgiving festival of Tamil Nadu, is a harvest festival that happens around January-February when South Indians celebrate good harvest of rice, cereal, sugarcane and turmeric.
The festival marks a season of get together, series of family weddings, resolution to knotty family problems and none can be missed, without some delicious food to tuck in. In the due course of 4-day festival, there is a lot of home cooking keeping everyone finger licking at the end of every meal.
The mouth watering foods to enhance the celebration spree include starters to desserts that you can make at home or walk in to any South Indian restaurant to try.
The main dish in this celebration is a dish also referred to as Pongal. When prepared with sugar or jaggery and its sweet in taste, then it is called Sakkarai Pongal.
This is a dessert that is offered in South Indian temples. When served absolutely white with lots of butter thick in texture, then it is called Ven Pongal. The spicy variant of pongal prepared with moong daal and pepper, is Melagu Pongal. Other popular varieties of Pongal like Rawa Pongal, Puli Pongal or Khara Pongal are also made during the festival.
Along with rice, you also have choice of bread during Pongal. This one is a sweet Indian bread that has jaggery as the main ingredient. The dish is called Puran Poli in Tamil or Bhakshalu in Telugu. In filling, lentil stuff makes this a heavy dish in the Pongal menu.
This is a vegetable stew served as side dish to the rice or pongal. It’s healthy due to the use of different vegetables like red pumpkin, brinjal, drumsticks, raw plantains, sweet potato, colocasia, beans and yam.
The yellow curry adds flavor the rice you are served.
Another curry commonly served with a Pongal meal is Gutty Vankaya meaning stuffed brinjal curry. Use of lime, chilly and jaggery to fill a brinjal makes this have equal blends of sweet, sour and chilly. The curry is heavy and taste awesome along with rice.
This is a sweet rawa patty that is prepared in many other South Indian festivals. With a hard crust of sesame seeds on top, as you bite you will be blown with a crust of butter, sugar, jaggery and more. This fried patty can be served along the main course food or as starter or quick grab option.
The South Indian style of Dahi Vada that is absolutely different from the sweet ones of North India. Served with ginger and chillies, this snack is also called Avaada. This one is not necessarily with meals and is a top choice for evening snacks. During pongal, top South Indian confectionaries add this item to their dessert option.
This rice pudding is directly offered to the god hoping for good blessings in exchange for it. This dessert can be made in any day during the festival and can be served both, hot or cold. Some love parannam and the recipe of this dish differ from family to family. Use of dry fruits and jaggery makes this more delectable.
This a sweet meat that you can try after your meal or as a popular South Indian dessert. Use of dry coconut makes this sweet in taste. Other ingredients used to make these small fried rolls are sugar, semolina and cardamom powder. The crescent shaped dessert is crunchy in texture and consistent in taste.