Pongal is the Harvest festival celebrated in South India particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu. Around the same time, similar festivals are celebrated in many parts of India with different names such as bihu, Lohri, makar sankaranti etc.
The festivities of Pongal are very big for the Tamizh farmer. They are celebrating and thanking nature for a good bountiful harvest. The saying goes ‘A good harvest season paves the way to prosperity and joy !’ This year, not just the farmer but everyone in every part of the world is hoping for the same 🙏
Celebrations for Pongal include wearing new clothes and special food. In traditional farmers’ homes, a pot of rice is cooked in the front yard, in an open flame and that boiling over of rice brings good fortune. With reverence to all farmers, folks in the cities also celebrate pongal in the confines of their own kitchens. Traditional menu includes a sweet rice pudding, a savory rice dish and a tangy vegetable gravy to accompany the savory main course. Mmmm ! 😋
In our continuous pursuit to substitute whole grains in traditional recipes, we are substituting rice with 2 types of Millets – Foxtail and Kodo millets (Thinai and Varagu) for the sweet Pongal. This is sweetened with dates puree and maple syrup. By cooking it in the InstantPot the cooking time is also considerably reduced and pressure cooking retains all the nutrients.
Next for the savory dish which traditionally uses rice and yellow split lentils (moong daal), we are using a combination of brown rice and quinoa in the place of white rice. Both the resulting recipes offer whole grain carbohydrates and the replacement grains taste just as delicious as the original ones.
For the vegetable side dish gravy, the dish is a very simple offering called Gothsu, in which the main flavor is ginger. It has white sweet potato and eggplant simmered in a tangy tamarind sauce. The flavorful gravy along with the savory pongal is a delicacy down south in India.
Do try out all the variations and post your comments and pictures !
May this Harvest and Festival season bring lots of good ‘avenues’ for everything.