Thaii Pongal or Makara Sankranthi is a festival of harvest that is celebrated in Tamil Nadu and other parts of south India. It’s an occasion to welcome the summer solstice. It’s a 4 day festival which generally comes in the month of January. This year it is being celebrated from 13th – 16th Jan.
14th jan – Bhogi pongal : On this day we discard the old things and bring in new possessions to our house like clothes and utensils etc. To mark the beginning of the celebration of the harvest we start off with the food preparations.
In South Indian cooking, we mainly give emphasis on rice and lentils. Our kind of masals are entirely different from the garam masalas.On bhogi the main dish is BisiBele–Bath or Kadhamba Saadham. A rice and lentil based dish which has all the available vegetables of the season. In tamil Brahmins houses we make a sweet called “Akara–Adisil” it is something similar to a sweet pongal, and the recipe for this dish is what I’m going to share with you today.
15thjan – Thaii Pongal : The main festival begins on this day. It is the beginning of the Thamizh month “Thaii”. We start of by making the “Ponga–Pannai” ready to make the “SakkaraiPongal”. Typically pongal is celebrated in the open air where we build the stove with bricks and log-wood, since we live in a city we don’t build a stove made out of logs and bricks, so we use the stove and we keep the _pannai _on the stove and allow the milk to boil and overflow, and we pray to god that our lives should always overflow with peace, harmony and prosperity.
16th jan – Maatu Pongal : A day where we embrace the cow for providing us with milk, fodder and labor. Without which we cannot do any farming and agriculture.
KanuPidi is a tradition for women and young girls. During KanuPidi women feed birds and pray for their brothers’ well-being. As part of the “Kaka pidi, Kanupidi” feast women and girls place a feast of colored rice, cooked vegetables, banana and sweet pongal on ginger or turmeric leaves for crows to share and enjoy.
During this time women offer prayers in the hope that brother-sister ties remain forever strong as they do in a crow family, this is actually our kind of Raksha Bandhan. We go to our siblings house and get “Moii”, that is money or gifts, if they are elder than us then we also take their blessings.
17thjan – Kaanum pongal : the fourth day of the festival, marks the end of Pongal festivities for the year. The word kaanum in this context means “to visit.” Many families hold reunions on this day and we make “Kalandha Saadham” or also known as variety rice or Rice Bath. It’ll typically consist of “puliyodharai”, “Lime rice”, “Coconut rice” and “Curd rice”.
We pack these “variety rice” in picnic baskets and go out on trips. In my family we visit a “Punyastahalam” or a place of worship.
Making Your house ready for the festivities
Since Pongal is the first festival of the year, we have to get our house ready. Especially our kitchen. Two days prior to the festival we plan to reshuffle our shelves and discard the old belongings, dust the cupboards and arrange all the month’s supplies in a neat manner. Only when you do this you’ll see those nocturnal creatures which gives us the fright of our lives by spreading diseases. Yes you guessed it right these nocturnal are none other than “COCKROACHES”. They enter your kitchen through drains carrying disease causing bacteria and germs, they make their nest in any cracks/cervices found in your kitchen and hide there during the day. In then night right after we finish the day’s chores and switch off the kitchen lights, their day starts. They get on to all possible places inside the kitchen and crawl over plates, mugs, storage containers etc. spreading the disease causing bacteria. The next day when we use the same contaminated cups and plates,we fall sick and become victims of Food Poisoning. To get a better picture check this link. GodrejHIT has come up with a campaign called #SayNoToFoodPoisoning
MY Advice to keep your kitchen safe from cockroaches
What I always do is, the previous night I spray GodrejLAL HIT(red can) spray meant for the cockroaches and close the kitchen door. So the next day morning, you’ll see a lot of dead cockroaches, what is worse than cockroaches is dead cockroaches(Eww!! IKnow). So I immediately start off by cleaning them and sweeping them away.
How to use LAL HIT:
Spray LALHIT in your kitchen sink, it has deep reach nozzle so the spray easily goes into the sink outlet holes.
Also spray LAL HIT under the gas cylinder, dustbins and under the fridge. All these difficult to reach spots are easily reachable through LAL HIT deep reach nozzle.
Below are some home remedies that I used to try earlier, but spraying LAL HIT is much easier and guaranteed action. I am rest assured that my kitchen is safe from disease causing cockroaches.
Take few bay leaves, crush them and put it in all corners of the kitchen or any possible place where you think they might get in. The smell of bay leaves avoids their breeding process and they will not hatch their eggs in those corners.
These Night crawlers generally hide behind the electric appliances, spray a concoction of garlic and onion on them and leave it over night. Cockroaches hate the smell of garlic.
|Raw rice||1 cup|
|Yellow Moong dal / paitham paruppu||½ cup|
|Ghee / clarified butter||4 tbsps|
|Jaggery||200 -250 grams|
|Sugar candy (Kalkandu)||100 grams|
|Cardamom powder||¼ tsp|
- Wash and soak the rice and moong dal in a vessel for about 15 minutes.
- Take a kadaai, keep it on medium heat.Add the soaked rice and moong dal, discard the water.
- sauté them until aromatic. Do not brown them. The trick is to roast them until you get a nutty flavor of the moong dal , once that is achieved immediately transfer this to a vessel and switch off the heat.
- Add 1 cup of water and 2 cups of milk (200 ml). Pressure cook this for 6 whistles.
- Allow the pressure to release on its own.
- Take a heavy bottomed pot, keep it on medium heat.
- Pour in the remaining milk and bring it to a boil.
- Take the cooked rice-dal mixture, mash it lightly with the help of a ladle and add it to the boiling milk.
- Allow this to boil and combine. Now add both jaggery and sugar candy (kalkandu). I didn’t find it necessary to make jaggery syrup and later filter it into the milk mixture since I used a branded jaggery .
- Add a pinch of saffron and 1/4 tsp cardamom powder.
- Take the kadaai used to fry the rice and moong dal, keep it on medium heat, add in a tablespoon of ghee, add the broken cashews and fry them until golden brown.
- Pour this tempering to the milk mixture.
- Take this off the heat and serve it piping hot.