Thai Pongal in USA

I am happy to introduce the first guest writer in my blog, my husband Mithun.

Pongal 2

Traditional Pongal in USA

By Mithun.R

Pongal, the quintessential Tamil function was always celebrated with lot of fervor and exhilaration by our families. To keep the tradition flowing to the next generation, we try and celebrate the same as close to how it is celebrated back home even though we are no longer in Tamil Nadu but 10000 miles away in U.S.A.

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Pongal 8

Pongal 9

The festivities start the day before when we spend all evening drawing and coloring Rangoli in the front and back of the home braving the winter weather. The only fresh harvest we get for the harvest festival in the winter months is the sugarcane we grow in our backyard.

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Pongal 3

We get up early before sunrise, take a traditional oil head bath and wear new clothes. We lay all the fresh vegetables and fruits along with sugarcane, turmeric and other Pongal ingredients outside for Sun God. At the first sight of the rising sun, we offer prayers and fire the logs to start Pongal. Although getting a fire going on an icy morning with wooden logs in a makeshift stove with a frigid crosswinds is an arduous task, we cherish doing it as we are elated to be celebrating Pongal like our parents and million others in Tamil Nadu.

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With a modern twist, we share the entire pongal making process with the jubilant folks back home in Chennai thanks to Skype. We yell “Pongalo Pongal” at the top of our voice when we finally get the Pongal to boil over. We make both Sarkarai Pongal and Venn Pongal along with Sambar and Avial. Grandmother always said, the more variety of vegetables you add, the better your Sambar will taste. So we cut and chop  brinjal, plantain, pumpkin, radish, raw mango, carrots, beans, peas, cauliflower, drumstick and many root vegetables and that makes the special Pongal Sambar and Avial decadent. The lady of the house puts in the labor of love and gets all the Pongal special dishes done. After that, we offer the food and dessert to God and give our thanks for the harvest festival. We enjoy the sumptuous Pongal feast the traditional way by sitting on the floor and eating it from banana leaf.

Pongal 1

Our 5 year old daughter is now a seasoned veteran and she relishes the way we celebrate Pongal and will continue this Tamil tradition even after she grows up. No matter how far we are, home is where the heart is. Happy Pongal!

Maa Vilakku

Maa vilakku 1

I have been making maa vilakku for Karthigai Deepam for the past 4 or 5 years. It was not easy to make(atleast for me). After many fail attempts, I got it right.The consistency of the dough is important. If the dough is too watery, the lamp won’t hold its shape. So when you mix the dough after adding water, make sure you knead for at least 3-4 minutes after each addition of water. The heat from your hand and water will melt the jaggery as you mix. Use your hand to mix the dough. Add 1/2 tsp of water at a time to mix the dough.

Ingredients:

  • Rice flour – 1/2 cup
  • Powdered jaggery – 1/2 cup
  • Cardamom powder – 2 pinch
  • Water – as required

Method:

  • Mix rice flour, powdered jaggery and cardamom powder together in a bowl.

Maa vilakku 4

 

  • Mix for 4 minutes using your hand.
  • Add very little water(1/2 to 1 tsp) and mix well for 4 minutes.
  • Add more water if required and mix really well after each addition until the dough comes together.
  • Make a ball using the dough and shape it into a lamp.
  • Place it on a plate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Maa vilakku 3

 

  • Add ghee and cotton wick.

 

Maa vilakku 2