"HAPPY SANKRANTI" | Celebrating and cooking for SANKRANTI. By Savya Ramesh of @wickedlywhisked.
MAKARA SANKRANTI, PONGAL, LOHRI ......
One festival with all the above names - Sankranti celebrates the end of winter and the start of longer days, celebrated in the month of January. It is even widely known as the Harvest Festival. As most Indian celebrations this is a three-day festival, each day with its own significance.
Day one (Bhogi) – On this day bonfires are lit with old clothes and material marking the end of old (Winter) and welcoming the new season.
Day Two (Makara Sankranti) – This day the sun starts moving towards the summer solstice. This is the main day of this festival and it is celebrated by beautiful “Muggu” (colored designs) in everyone’s front yard, delicious food and kite flying.
Day Three (Kanuma) – This day is dedicated in honoring our Cattle. It is very close to the farmers as they decorate and pray to their cattle, as a symbol of prosperity.
As a kid I would wake up super early in the morning, sprinkle water (cleaning it) on our front yard and get to work. Which meant put muggu (Rangoli) for another 3-4 hours, decorate it will all sorts of colors and flowers, mainly to make sure that mine is the best on our street. Amma (mom) would make scrumptious food and desserts to offer to God, don’t worry we get to eat it once God’s done eating. With this festival comes new harvest, so that’s fresh rice!
Fresh rice means PONGAL, a dish I would like to share with you all.
Rice is cooked with milk, pesara pappu (Mung dal, split green gram), jaggery, roasted nuts and ghee to make the main dish on the menu – Chakkara (Sweet) Pongal!
- 1 cup rice, rinsed
- ½ cup split green gram, rinsed
- 4 cups water
- 3-4 cups milk
- 1 ½ cups jaggery, ground
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- 4-5 tbsps ghee
- ¼ cup raisins
- ¼ cup cashew, halved
- ¼ cup almonds, slivered
- Combine the rinsed rice, split green gram and water in a big vessel and pressure cook until 4-5 whistles.
- Once the cooker cools down, carefully open the lid and transfer it to a big pot.
- Add the milk (to be honest the milk quantity is about ½ inch high above the cooked rice) and cook it at medium heat.
- Once it starts to absorb the milk and starts getting mushy, take it off the heat and add jaggery. The heat should melt it, keep mixing.
- Add the cardamom powder and mix.
- In a small saucepan, heat the ghee (heats pretty quick) add cashews, roast until starts to brown. Take it off the heat add the almonds and raisins, they roast faster.
- Add the roasted nuts and raisins to the “milked up rice”. Ta-da you just made Sweet Pongal!!!
- Serve it hot!
We also eat sugarcane or drink freshly churned sugarcane juice too. Happy Sankranti! - SAVYA
ABOUT | Savya
When it comes to cooking or baking, I’m a self taught person with enormous help virtually (abuse of facetime with my mom). Over time, I have come to realize that baking calms me when I’m super stressed. Or may be it’s the sugar!
In 2008, when I moved to the USA and started to live by myself, is when I understood what it is to make a meal/ dessert from scratch and also that this brings about a lot of content in me. There is nothing that satisfied my taste buds or my stomach more than something made by me at home. Everyone in my family has an exclusive gene for food, be it to make it or devour it. Most of what comes out of my kitchen has an authentic as it has the touch and skill of generations of my family.