Monday, April 18, 2022

Pongal and Pizza

Pongal :

Pongal is a dish made by cooking rice with lentils (moong dal) , mashing it up , flavoring it with ghee.

There are both salt and sweet versions the latter made using jaggery and the former garnished with generous amounts of cumin and black pepper.

The Tamizh word Pongu means to overflow or boil over. 

Pongal is more than a food item. Every year around 13th to 16th January we celebrate a festival called Pongal.  It is an important festival for Tamilians at the beginning of the Tamil month Thai( pronounced like thye). It marks the onset of the harvest season for agriculture. We express our thanks to the sun, the rains and all the forces of nature including cows and livestock for blessing us with abundance.  In rural areas , pongal is cooked outdoors in earthern pots and when the rice boils and the water spills over its greeted with shouts of "Pongalo Pongal".  In urban homes we do it on our gas stoves in metal pots but the spirit of expressing gratitude for the fulfilment of our basic needs remains. 

It is actually  spread over three days - Bhogi when we clean up our homes and discard all unwanted things; Pongal the main day when the dish is made and feasting with family happens; Mattu Pongal when we offer our gratitude to the cattle... in village sides we can see cows all decorated and beautiful!

There is a joke thats popular in Tamil circles. Whats the difference between Pongal and Diwali (another one of our festivals)? You can eat Pongal on Diwali day but you cannot eat Diwali on Pongal day. 

This was a rangoli i made for Pongal( patterns drawn on floor with color powder)

Food from overseas :

Pasta and Pizza: My school going kids love pizza and pasta and it seems to be the case with most other children.  In recent decades pizza chains have made their way and established  their presence in almost every other country. 

I do believe that authentic Italian food will have a lot more to offer than what the world calls Italian (my son hates pineapples on his pizza, says its the same with Italians).

I do harp about it being unhealthy with all the cheese and calories. But there is nothing like opening a pizza package delivered minutes ago. The aroma is mesmerising, i must admit. 

During a recent visit to an Italian restaurant, the chef there mentioned that the right way to eat a pizza is with your hands. Do not use a fork or spoon.

We eat our rice with our hands and so thats a piece of pizza for us ! Ha ha 

Food for thought

There is a Tamil movie song written about Pongal festival in praise of our rivers. In it there are lines that go: 

Namma sorgam enbathu mannil ullathu, vaanil illayadi;Namma inbam enbathu kannil ullathu kanavil illayadi 

Sorgam - heaven

Mann - earth or land

kann- eyes

namma - our

Ullathu- is there

vaan - sky

The heavens are here on earth and not up in the skies. Our happiness lies in our eyes and not in our dreams. 


  1. First, I love that quote (or at least, the translation). Second, are you in Tamil Nadu? I went to school there for a few years when I was young (11-14). I was at an international school and did not learn about Pongal. I hope that nowadays - with a more globalistic world, international schools are more intent about ensuring education about the country they are in. It sounds like a great festival!

    1. I am from TamilNadu but i stay in Singapore... oh you studied in TN...interesting

  2. Enjoyed learning about Pongal.

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: P

  3. Pongal, wow - one of my absolute favourite Tamil breakfasts. Since I have always been in Mumbai, some of the essence of the festival has gotten diluted - the zeal with which it is probably celebrated in Tamil Nadu, especially in villages is probably a little subdued up north (relatively). But the treat remains a favourite! Pizza and pasta, again two lip smacking favourites.

    Here's my post for P:

  4. Hahah I loved the joke. On a serious note, I love both Pongals! So glad I have friends from almost all parts of India!

    Dropping by from momandideas.con

  5. Hahah I loved the joke. On a serious note, I love both Pongals! So glad I have friends from almost all parts of India!

    Dropping by from momandideas.con

  6. How lovely to learn about Pongal - the celebration and the food. And your rangoli is wonderful.

  7. Sounds likes a wonderful festival bringing everyone together. The dish also sounds intriguing. I am with your son - pineapple does not belong on pizza! 😂
    Best wishes,
    Tasha's Thinkings: YouTube - What They Don't Tell You (and free fiction)

  8. Pongal is go to food at our home.....easiest and fav of daughter so many days when no mood to persuade her to eat food i make Pongal ...and sannkranti is a big festival even in Andhra...lovely rangoli....i hope kids like traditional foods more than bakery stuff of pizzas pastas...but feels like a tough fight to make them do that

  9. I love pongal (the dish), pongal (the festival) and pizza and pasta. Just FYI, In Italy, Pizza comes in only one size. Only in other parts of the world pizza comes in small, medium, large, extra large, and jumbo sizes.

  10. As I get older I don't like eating as much as I did when I was younger. I still like pizza and pasta, but my wife doesn't care for it all that much. However, she loves lentils and I'm not a big fan. So we eat more lentils than the other things. I deal with it even though I don't like the lentils that much. I guess it's mainly a cultural thing since I grew up in the U.S. and we ate a lot of Italian food in my family, whereas my wife is from Ecuador and their diet was big on beans, lentils, and rice.

    So it goes. I do all the cooking in the house. I don't fix much Italian food but I fix beans or lentils with rice nearly every week.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  11. I can't say anything about Pongal - living next to Italy I have a lot to say about pizza and pasta though ;-)
    You're absolutely right, in the eyes of an Italian, it's a war crime to put pineapple on your pizza. You're also right, there is much more to Italian cuisine than pasta and pizza. They also do yummy fish and meat dishes. My favorite is called "Saltimbocca", it's a thin veal cutlet with smoked ham and sage, and it's usually served with risotto.