Monday, January 23, 2012
We had a quiet Pongal this time, with only the two of us at home. Yet, we like to celebrate all the festivals in the traditional manner. We may not have an elaborate spread of goodies, which is what Indian festivals are all about, but we still observe the festivals. We offered sarkkarai pongal, vella neyvedyam and Manjal Chatham to Lord Suryanarayana and prayed for peace and prosperity for all.
Our usual practice is to prepare venpongal and sarkkarai Pongal on the morning of Pongal and have these for breakfast. This year, we had a little deviation from that practice and decided to have brunch.
When we were growing up, there was no practice of breakfast in most of the houses in our village. The children had their brunch at around 9a.m., before going to school and the elders would eat around 10.30 or 11 am. Actually our house was an exception as we had idlies every morning. Our grandfather used to have idlies for breakfast before he went to visit our farm about 4 kms away. We children also had a mini breakfast along with him and our brunch before going to school.
Coming back to pongal celebrations, for Pongal brunch at Puthucode we had Manjal Chatham, Avarakkai sambar and pumpkin poduthuval, with karuvadam, vadam and payasam. As I had said earlier we did not prepare sarkkarai pongal or venpongal in those days. We used to relish the Manjal chatham also known as Pongal chatham. I particularly remember the color sequence of that brunch. For Makara Sankranthi, we children usually adorned our hands and feet with mehendi. The mehendi colored hands in bright yellow Manjal Chatham in which hot home made ghee and brown sambar was poured, produced a beautiful color combination, which I can recollect even today. I have not been preparing Manjal Chatham for very long now so I decided to prepare it this year. It is a very simple colored rice with nothing to spice it up yet we used to relish it as our taste buds were still very sensitive and not spoilt by harsh spices.
Over to the recipe
Cooking rice 1 cup
Toor dal 1 tbsp.
Turmeric powder 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Wash and cook the rice with Toor dal, turmeric powder and enough salt. Your Pongal Chatham is ready.
This Pongal chatham is prepared during karkitaka Sankranthi and also during the bridal shower. In our community, the bridal shower is given by the paternal aunt (Athai) or maternal uncle's wife (mami). A couple of days before the wedding the bride is invited to either of the aunts' house with friends and other girls in the family and given a lunch in which Manjal Chatham is served. Mehendi is done to the bride and others after this function. Similar function is held in the groom's aunt's place for the groom.