Celebrating the South Indian harvest festival and starting on January 15th in 2020, Pongal (Harvest Festival) is one of the most important dates in the Tamil calendar. It marks the changing of the seasons and the end of the monsoon. The word ‘Pongal’ is a derivative of ‘ponga’, which means ‘to boil’. Many traditional dishes of the festival have boiled rice as a base.
Celebrate Pongal (Harvest Festival) with these traditional dishes
Typically, the post-harvest period is a time of abundance when Tamil families and friends get together to celebrate and share traditional dishes. It is also often a time when weddings are held, ensuring the new couple will enjoy health and wealth in their life together. There are rituals and dishes that go with each day of the four-day festival and for anyone interested in world cuisine, this is a chance to enjoy new dishes and experiment in the kitchen. So, what happens over the four days of the festival and what dishes should you eat?
- Day one – Bhogi Pongal – starts with prayers to Indra, and plates of food made mainly from rice or jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) are offered to the god Indra and eaten at the celebrations. One such dish is payasam made from jaggery, rice, milk and dried fruit.
- Day two – Surya Pongal – this day is dedicated to the Sun God and a sweet dish called ‘sakkarai Pongal’ is cooked in a clay pot and made from jaggery, rice, turmeric and lentils. Medu Vada makes a tasty evening snack. It’s a type of deep-fried savoury ‘doughnut’ containing black lentils, garlic, black pepper, curry leaves, onion and gum from the asafoetida plant.
- Day three – Mattu Pongal – is dedicated to cattle, which are colourfully decorated with ribbons and bells. There might even be cattle races! You could start this energetic day with a substantial breakfast dish of Ven Pongal made from rice, ghee, curry spices, chilli and cashew nuts.
- Day four – Kaanum Pongal – on this final day, visits are made and gifts of money, new clothes and sweet dishes are shared before a large feast. Coconut rice is often served alongside big dishes of curry, providing a perfect blend of subtle South Indian flavours. Popular to share at any time of the day from breakfast to dinner is idli sambhar. Its main ingredients are aubergine (eggplant), dhal, sambhar powder, fenugreek, mustard and coriander seeds, onions, chilli, tamarind, turmeric and coconut.
Indian cuisine in Singapore
Whether you’re celebrating Pongal (Harvest Festival) in January 2020 or simply like dining on Asian food, you’ll find a good choice of restaurants in Singapore serving Indian dishes. Here at foodpanda, we’ve partnered with Indian restaurants in SG to bring these dishes right to your door. Among our top picks are Royal Pratas & Curries, ABC Maju Restaurant and Ma Raj Restaurant. Happy festival!