Monday, 22 February 2016

Aatukal Pongala

Pongala (Ponkala) is a special offering made by the women to Attukal Devi - a famous deity in Thiruvanthapuram, capital city of Kerala, South India. This year it is on Feb 23rd.

The significance of Attukal Devi Temple Pongala is that this event entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest annual gathering of women in the world in a single place on a single day irrespective of caste, creed or religion. People arrive from all parts of the state and even from other states. They set up hearths with bricks and they make payasam (similar to chakkara pongal) and therali appam. Around 7km radius of the temple women sit in lines with their hearths. The priest at the temple lights the fire in the temple hearth and the fire is transferred from one hearth to the next.

There are a couple of legends behind Attukal Pongala, one goes this way - Kannagi (Kannaki) kills  Pandya king in revenge of killing her innocent husband but her anger at the Pandian king doesnt go away and she starts to burn the city of madurai. In order to pacify kannagi, Women made pongala in hearth and offered it to her as a result she was pacified.

Another story I heard recently is - Mahisasura was a demon who worshiped Lord Brahma ( Hindu mythology) and got boon that no man can kill him. As result of this he become so notorious and creates troubles all over the world. Then all the gods came together and created the most powerful women Devi to kill Mahisasura. Finally Devi defeated him in the battle and killed him. In order to reduce the anger of the Devi, women made this pongala.

I am presenting to you the recipe of Pongala Payasam that is made as an offering for the Bhagavathi. The recipe is pretty simple. Though quite similar to Chakkara Pongal prepared by Tamilians on Pongal day, this payasam has a unique taste cause of the added coconut and the no milk factor.

Ingredients :

Rice - 1 cup
Water - 7 cups
Jaggery - 1.5 cups
Coconut - 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1/4 tsp
Cashews - few
Raisins - few
Ghee - 2 tbsp


1. Take a heavy bottomed vessel. Bring 7 cups of water to boil. 
2. Add rice to it and cook till it is well done. The water will be almost absorbed now. Check with the spatula to make sure the rice is cooked cause once the jaggery is added the rice will not cook anymore. 
3. Add the jaggery (powdered) and mix. The jaggery will melt and add little more water to the pongala. Simmer for a few minutes. 
4. Add coconut and cardamom powder along with 1 tbsp of ghee. Mix well and cook for another 3-4 minutes. The payasam will start to become semi-solid now. 
5. In the end, heat ghee in a small pan and add cashews. When they brown, keep aside. In the same pan, add the raisins and roast. Add the cashews and raisins along with the ghee to the payasam 

Enjoy! Some ppl like to add some sliced bananas to this while eating.

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