Festival delights on a platter

Festival delights on a platter

Festivals are never complete without the food that comes with them. Varying from snacks, dishes and sweets, the festivals of Lohri, Makara Sankranthi and Pongal, which fall between January 13 and 15, have their own special culinary delights associated with them.

Lohri, a festival more specific to the North, is celebrated with much enthusiasm. Baljinder Kaur, a resident of Bannerghatta Road, says that the prasad, consisting of peanuts and popcorn, is thrown into the fire while one takes seven rounds around the flame. “For the festival, we cook rau ki kheer with rice and jaggery. Also, a sweet called rewdi is made of sesame and sugar and consumed. A preparation from urad dal called phanphani khichdi is also made,” she details. Sujatha Sriram, a Kannadiga, says that the specialities of Makara Sankranthi include yellu bella (til and jaggery), sweet pongal and khara pongal. “Boiled groundnuts, boiled sweet potatoes, curry made of sweet pumpkin, sugar candies and til chikkis are the other delights of the season,” she points out.

Sujatha, who hails from Hoskote, says that sugar candies form the most important part of the festival. “But they are really hard to make as they take a lot of time. So I don’t try my hand at them,” she says. For the Telugites, the festival starts the day before with Bhogi, where all unwanted items are burnt as this is the first celebration of the year. “On the next day, which is Sankranti day, we keep nivedya for the puja, which consists of boiled groundnuts, sweet potato, sugarcane etc. The sugarcane is consumed as this is meant to bring sweetness in our lives,” details Jyothi N, a home-maker who hails from Hyderabad. She says that they have an aaku bhojanam (meal on leaf), which includes food delights made from underground vegetation like oligalu (a sweet like puran poli), four varieties of vegetable palya, sweet pongal, which is also offered as nivedya to god, khara pongal, rice, sambhar, rasam and curd. “Back home, the pongal is traditionally made on a flame of cowdung but here in the City, the food is made on the stove itself,” she explains. Ask Jyothi if she makes anything specifically for the family, and she says that she cooks brinjal curry and rice for her daughter.

The Tamilians have unique traditions associated with the Pongal festival and the food. Suma Srinivas, who came to the City 13 years ago, still loves to follow all the traditions. “The festival is spread across three days for us and we make different things. On the first day, which is Bhogi, we prepare vada, payasa, chitrana, kosumbari and two types of palya. On the second day, which is Pongal, we make sweet pongal by boiling milk and then add ghee at the end. We shout pongalo, pongalo right after it’s cooked and offer it to the Sun god along with banana and sugarcane. Yellu bella and kosumbari are also prepared,” informs Suma. She adds that on the third day, which is Mattu Pongal, she offers sweet pongal to the cow, and also makes kolambu, payasa and rice. “I try to follow the traditions as much as possible,” she says.

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