Tamilian welcomed the auspicious month "Thai" (pronounced "Thy" not like Thai"land) this Sunday. Many celebrations are held this month: Pongal - the harvest festival is celebrated on Jan 15, next will be Thai Velli (Fridays), all the four Fridays (Jan: 20-27& Feb 3-10) the Goddess Maa Sakthi is worshiped for Success in Life.
Thai Amavasai (Jan- 23- 2012): On new moon day, people express their gratitude to their ancestors.
Thaipusam (Feb- 7- 2012): Lord subramanya/Murugan is worshiped on full moon day.
Tamilian have an hand full to kick start with lots of special food. Imagine if you have a resolution to shred few pounds this month and you are the one who don't cease to follow all these days with sweets.
For the harvest festival, a sweet version of Pongal is prepared in every home with a new crop of rice and a milk version (rice+milk :paal pongal) but not usually this Ven Pongal!
Ven (refers to white color) Pongal is the second most popular breakfast item after idli/sambar in Tamil Nadu. Regardless of age, this rice and dhal mixture suit everyone's palette. The mixture is slightly overcooked and seasoned with a liberal amount of ghee. A big laddle of pongal accompanied with coconut chutney is my favorite tiffin item. I have seen many people fishing out the black pepper and throw away. If you belong to this group, next time, try to eat with rice. When the pepper is popped under your teeth, the spice gives an extra bold flavor for this salty version. That will even help clear if you have a cold or stuffy nose :)
Ven pongal with medu vadas and sambar
|Raw rice||1 cup|
|Split Moong dhal||1/3 cup|
|Salt||as per your taste|
|Ghee||2 to 3 tbsp (the more it is heaven)|
|Cashew||1/4 cup -broken into pieces|
|Cumin||1. 1/2 tsps|
|Whole black pepper||1. 1/2 tsps|
|Curry leaves||few leaves|
Rinse well rice+ moong dhal together. Add 4 cups of water, keep in pressure cooker and leave 4 to 5 whistles.
Heat the ghee, roast the cashew first, followed by cumin, pepper and ginger, keep just 1 or 2 minutes- finally add the curry leaves and stop the heat.
Warm milk in a microwave cup. First in 1/4 cup of milk, mix the salt and pour in cooked rice /dhal mixture. Taste it, if the pongal required more salt adjust and pour the rest of milk in rice.
Now add the seasoning and mix well, serve hot with chutney or sambar.