A meal on Bhogi is the typical "pandigai saapadu". On Pongal day, Amma says the grinder is to be given some rest. So, our meal is mainly pongal. In different avatars of course. The basic rice and moong dal combination is used to prepare Coconut Rice, Lemon Rice, Curd Rice and Sakkara Pongal. And since it is the harvest festival, we have a sambar made with just about every vegetable. On Kaanum Pongal, the day after Pongal, we usually have Coconut Rice, Tamarind Rice and Avial.
Sakkara Pongal is the highlight of the Pongal lunch. I almost stopped eating Sakkara Pongal years ago when the mothers of two friends (both Palghat Iyers) gave me Sakkara Pongal with chopped jackfruit in it. This happened on two consecutive days. That killed both flavours at once for me. I have not been able to eat jackfruit since. Sakkara Pongal I have managed to start eating (once a year). Very soon I might get around to liking it again.
1/4 cup Rice
2 tbsp Moong Dal
1/4 cup Jaggery
1/4 tsp Cardamom Powder
1/4 cup Milk
a few strands Saffron
1 tsp Coconut, scraped
1 tbsp Ghee
2 tsp Cashews
2 tsp Raisins
Pressure cook the rice and the moong dal with 1 cup of water. Mash well. Dissolve the saffron in the milk and add this to the rice. Mix well.
Dissolve the jaggery in a little water and heat it until the jaggery dissolves completely. Strain this and bring the mixture to a boil. (It should come close to a one thread consistency.) Add the cardamom powder and the coconut. Stir in the rice-dal mixture.
In a frying ladle, heat the ghee. Add the cashews and the raisins. When the cashews turn golden, add the contents of the ladle to the pongal. Cook for a couple of minutes. The sakkara pongal is ready.
This was what our Pongal lunch looked like last year. Nothing really changed except the dining table itself. For two years in a row, I have managed to cook up the exact same meal that I ate year afyer year. (The only dish that I didn't make was Karnakizhangu Mashiyal. And that was only because I couldn't find the vegetable. I will post that soon. It is languishing in my drafts.) I must say I am proud of myself. The picture of this table full of food tells me that I did complete justice to my day off.
Happy Pongal/Sankranti to all of you. May you harvest every happiness this year.