19 Jan 2012

Pongal Thirunaal - Uzhavar Thiruvizhaa


"Pongal Nal Vazhthukal" to everyone.

I am late in posting this post but I am sure you will enjoy reading. This festival is also known as "Uzhavar Thirunaal" or "Farmer's Festival". So the name is kind of self - explanatory. It is indeed a harvest festival and giving thanks to the almighty for all the good fortune.

There are some routine practices which makes this festival special. First and foremost is the food - sweet and spicy pongal, vadai, payasam, sweet pori mixture [sweet flattened rice flakes mixture], pongal kuzhambhu, coconut chutney etc.


The highlight of the festival is the offering of freshly harvested produce - rice, tumeric bulbs, sugar cane and country vegetables [brinjal, broad beans, pumpkin, potato, field beans, sweet potato etc]. The celebrations are seen in full form in rural areas more than urban areas, especially in households who own large farms. The food is cooked and offered to the Sun god along with the fresh farm produce. Then new clothes are distributed to all the farm workers and then the food is served to all who have gathered.


Check out this post for more about the Pongal celebrations : Pongal-Words and klicks

There is a practice of drawing kolams in the front yard of each household. Powdered rice [அரிசி மாவு] is traditionally used to draw these kolams. Rice [Arisi /அரிசி] is considered as the representative of Goddess Lakshmi. It is believed that drawing kolams in rice flour early in the morning ensures that you and your household is blessed by Goddess Lakshmi.   Powdered white stone [வெங்கசங்கள் பொடி] is used nowadays for drawing these designs.

Let us leave the religious beliefs aside and look at it in a scientific way. India has one of the lowest incidence of Alzheimer's disease [progressive loss of brain's memory capacity]. The present day research shows that training  your brain cells on a regular basis is best way to keep this disease at bay along with low fat herbal diet.


Kolams are like geometric abstract patterns, inter mingled religious and philosophical motifs. Each one is of a different design and measurement and attributed to a specific diety. Some are so large that they cover the entire breadth of the street. They did not have any book in hand to draw them kolams and they rely solely on their memory for the designs. It was a very subtle creative way of increasing the memory capacity of the brain. This same scientific principle applies to learning all the hymns, mantras and slogams for each God and reciting them every morning.


Kolams are a symbol of auspiciousness and very widely practiced in Tamil Nadu. Traditionally the front yard is drenched with water, sometimes cowdung is mixed with the water and this is used to wash the front yard. It is believed to ward  of evil spirits, in other words infectious germs. Kolams are drawn and outlined with Kaavi/ காவி [Red brick colouring] to give a lovely look.


Rice flour is mixed with water to make a thick paste and the patterns are drawn especially during Krishna Jayanthi.

The month of December [மார்கழி] is famous for the early rising ritual among Hindus. The whole house hold gets up early around 4:00 AM and finish the morning rituals. The men go around the streets in groups singing hymns and the women folk decorate the front yard with large kolams. There is an underlying competition of who draws the largest and most complex pattern in a short period of time.

Information courtesy : Wikipedia , Indian Heritage

There are various patterns in Kolams - Pulli [dots] are arranged in sequence and lines are joined in straight lines or as twisted chains to make patterns. The stroke is known as kambi [கம்பி /twine] which runs around pulli [புள்ளி/dot]. If the stroke is twisted and runs around the dot to form a loop, it is called Nelli / [நெளி கோலம் ]. Various figures like flowers, birds, pots, fish and sometimes welcome writings are also written.


Now coming to the recipe, this is a classic combination in Tamil Nadu. Where ever you go in Tamil Nadu, no matter how tiny the restaurant you would be served with pongal and vadai.

During this festival, varieties of pongal, both sweet and spicy are prepared and served. This spicy variety has been in existence for a very long time since Sangam period [சங்க காலம்] dating back to 3000 B.C. Addition if various spices came along the way. It is very healthy and tasty and fit for all age groups.

Note: Please have this for breakfast and not for lunch or dinner as it is meant to release energy for your whole day's work. Have in moderation [around 1 cup] if your job does not involve much moving around

For the Ven Pongal:
Raw rice /pacharisi: 1 and 1/2 cups
Moong dal: 1/2 cup.
Fresh ginger [chopped] : 1 inch piece
Whole pepper corns: 1 tbsp.
Cumin seeds: 3/4 tbsp.
Cashews: 8-10.
Curry leaves: 1 sprig.
Salt: to taste.
Water:  4 cups.
Ghee: 2 tbsp.


1.Wash and soak the rice and dhal together for 1/2 hour. Drain the water, add the 4 cups of water and pressure cook for two whistles on medium flame.
2.Let the pressure settle down.
3.Meanwhile heat the ghee. Splutter the cumin, curry leaves and pepper corns.
4.Add the chopped ginger and cashews. Fry for 2 minutes and remove from flame.
5.Open the pressure cooker lid and add the fried spices and salt to the cooked rice and dhal.
6.Mix well and serve hot.


The best combination for pongal is medhu vadai, sambhar and coconut chutney....

This is my first experimental trial of this vadai as I was very skeptical about the outcome. I have heard stories about the consistency becoming watery, the dough very sticky, the vadai becoming too hard etc etc etc... but I asked my hubby's aunt [சித்தி] who is my chinna mamiyaar [சின்ன மாமியார் ] for the recipe. Her tips are at the end of this post...

For the medhu vadai:
Whole urad dhal: 2 cups.
Cumin seeds: 2 tsp.
Pearl onions [chopped] : 5-6. 
Whole pepper corns: 1 tsp.
Green chillies [chopped]: 2-3. 
Curry leaves: 1 sprig.
Fresh coconut flesh [chopped]: 4 to 5 one inch pieces.
Salt : to taste 


1.Wash and soak the dhal for a couple of hours and grind to a smooth thick dough without adding any water. Take the dough in a bowl.
2.Add all the other spices  and salt except the onions. Mix well.
3.Heat the oil and test for the temperature by frying a tiny blob of the dough [see tips].
4.When the oil is heated enough add the onions and mix well.
5.Apply some oil on your palms and take a small golf ball size of the dough. 
6.Flatten it slightly and make hole in the centre of the dough.
7.Gently slip it into the hot oil and fry until it is golden brown on all sides.
8.Take the vadais out of the oil and drain them on kitchen towels.

Enjoy hot with sambhar and coconut chutney.....

Note: even if you don't get the shape right don't worry, enjoy the tasty vadais. If there are some left overs, soak them in sambhar for "Sambhar Vadai" or in some runny yogurt and top with some bhoodhis and fresh coriander for "Curd Vadai"

Tips for making soft vadais:
1.Soak the urad dhal for only 2-3 hours.
2.Grind the dhal in a grinder and not a mixie.
3.Do not add any water when grinding the dhal or when taking the dough out of the grinder.
4.Add the onions and salt only when you are about to fry the vadai as the onions tend to let out water when it comes in contact with salt.
5.Heat the oil to the right temperature - not too hot nor cold. Test by frying a small blob of the dough. If it pops up to the surface immediately and colours very quickly - then the oil is too hot. If it does not rise to the top, then the oil is too cold.
6. The dough blob should sizzle and come to the top slowly and steadily to the top and colour evenly.

Enjoy.....


Scribbled by Reva

32 comments:

Alpana said...

Beautiful post......Thanks for all the info on Pongal.

khushi said...

happy pongal :)))
lovely crunchy vadai

Valarmathi Sanjeev said...

Beautiful post and lovely pics.

Reshmi Mahesh said...

Happy Pongal...:)...
Very detailed post about pongal and loved the spread...esp the vadai...
Beautiful clicks...

Sayantani said...

I love ven pongal. looks creamy and delicious.

Sravs said...

Beautiful pics !! Yummy Pongal treat !!

Ongoing event CC-Chocolate Fest

faseela said...

a lovely post with apt recipe.......superb

Mélange said...

What a beautiful narration Reva.I am a big fan of you for this.Nice post as usual with tons of valuable information on Pongal..Thank you.

The clicks are fabulous,needless to mention.Hope you had a great time..Ven pongal recipe seems very authentic and precious..Cheers dear!

Biny Anoop said...

hey belated happy pongal dear!!!!!!!

Amy said...

Interesting post...your clicks are very nice & nice arrangements...
Midweek Fiesta

Chandrani said...

Very traditional pongal. Nice click.

Suja said...

Lovely post and clicks

Priya said...

Wat a lovely post, fabulous clicks and delicious dishes..

Belated POngal wishes dear.

maha said...

Beautiful presentation and lovely pics.yummy n crispy vadas

Sumi said...

beautiful post :)

Christy Gerald said...

Delicious Pongal Dear.Very informative Post.

Now Serving said...

Lovely clicks Reva!!! kalakiteenga :)

Roshni said...

feels so good looking at the photos and reading your post

Sobha Shyam said...

wonderful post Reva, clicks are amazing..

Neha said...

Nice post and lovely clicks...

Maayeka said...

delicious recipes, beautiful presentation and lovely clicks..loved it !!!

Pushpa said...

Lovely post with delicious pongal and vada.

La @ FoodSlice said...

nice post Reva. We had both of those items for Pongal. I made the vadas, my mother-in-law made the ven pongal and we shared. Nice clicks

Pavithra Elangovan said...

Divine and beautiful post with lovely pictures.

Raksha said...

Nice info on kolams. Love the clicks.

Roshu said...

Wonderful clicks n perfect recipe

Chitra said...

Nice clicks. delicious pongal and vada :)

Ramya said...

nice write up on pongal..very informative for people like me who dont know much about this festival

radha said...

The Venn Pongal looks so good.

Gayathri Anand said...

Wonderful clicks and Yummy recipes..

ANU said...

wow Reva! Really appreciate your write up along with a feast (recipe)....awesome!

Mahesh said...

Wow! Nice post you have given the true meaning for the celebration of the festival pongal and Goddess Lakshmi mahalakshmi stotram

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