With the advent of the New year as per the Gregorian calendar, comes the first wave of festivals celebrated throughout India (We Indians simply LOVE to get the day off, celebrating festivals, religious as well as social, Heck, when no religious conforming to our personal faith is in sight, We'll happily participate in other festivals from other religions and I'm not joking). Christmas morning at home would be heralded by my dad playing 'Mary's Boy child' & Silent Night (the only Christmas related songs we had on a cassette tape at home).
Fifteen days into the year arrives the first Harvest Festival of Thanksgiving known in Tamil Nadu as 'Pongal' ( Literally translated as 'bubbling over). It marks the end of the month of Margazi (generally considered a non auspicious month where everything is left dormant, perhaps because it fall during the winter solstice).
The advent of Sankranti marks a new beginning, old stuff is tossed out to make way for the new, and prayers of thanks are offered for the new harvest.
Up North, the season is marked by the festival of Lohri, celebrated with bonfires and offerings of Gajjak & Revdi, two confections made with Jaggery & Sesame seeds. In the west in the state of Maharashtra the festival is marked by offering rolled sesame brittle to friends & family with the saying' Til Gul ghya aani goad goad bola' (partake of this offering of sesame brittle and may you only have nice things to say)
|Gajjak (the slices) & Revdi (the bite sized morsels)|
But as all fun festivals have in common, there's awesome food. The traditional South Indian offering is the sugar (Shakkarai) Pongal which is basically newly harvested rice, Toasted mung, milk & jaggery (unrefined sugar) flavored with cardamom. The traditional pot is adorned with leaves from the Ginger & turmeric plants and set over a fire to cook, when the pot begins to bubble over, the family gathers around to chant the words 'Pongal o pongal' wishing for a prosperous year ahead bubbling with happiness.
At the cost of turning a bright Beet red (or whatever my wheatish complexion will turn into), I don't have any photographs (& consequently any written recipes) of the traditional versions of the dishes, thanks to a RAM malfunction on my previous laptop which went south even as the sun stated its northern journey. But here is a compilation of recipes that I've created over the past year that would be made (in their traditional avatar) in a typical South Indian home
Venn Pongal (savory Mung & Rice Kedgeree)
Medu Vadai (one of my earliest posts, and experiments)
Paal Poli (Mille Feuille style)
Wishing everyone a great, happy & Prosperous year ahead!