The harvest festival of India, called “Pongal” and “Sankranti” in the south and “Lodhi” in the north, falls in mid-January every year, marking the beginning of Uttarayan, wherein the direction of the sun’s journey shifts northwards.
This festival which signifies the vibrant diverse culture across India, is an auspicious spiritual and agricultural occasion that is celebrated in many ways. The revelries include decorating the house by drawing elaborate “kolams” or “rangolis” with rice flour, flying colourful kites, offering prayers to the Sun God – Surya, revering cattle for their contribution to farming, as well as sisters seeking the blessings of the Almighty, for the welfare of their brothers.
Food is an integral part of all Indian festivals and Lodhi, Sankranti and Pongal are no exception. A lavish banquet of traditional recipes is prepared, with the fresh produce of cereal or grain crops, fruits and vegetables from the fields. This delectable treat is enjoyed with family after chanting prayers, for prosperity, harmony and good health.
We bring you two highly nutritious, customary Indian recipes on the grand occasion of Lodhi, Sankranti, Pongal, that abound in essential nutrients of proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, to make your celebration truly healthy and happy, for one and all.
The fertile soils in the southern states of India yield many fresh vegetables during the crop flourishing season, in the month of January. To herald the significant occasion of Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Sankranti in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, a traditional tamarind dal gravy or sambar is prepared, adding the various nutritious and tasty vegetables obtained from the fields, which is called kadamba sambar.
1 cup tamarind extract, liquefied
3 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt, as required
½ cup toor dal, boiled in a pressure cooker
1 brinjal, chopped
3 carrots, cut into small pieces
½ cup pumpkin pieces, sliced
4 broad beans, finely cut
1 medium potato, boiled and sliced
2 small colocasia, boiled, peeled and chopped
1 tsp groundnut oil
2 tsp mustard seeds
¼ tsp hing
1 red chilli
5-6 curry leaves
½ cup coriander leaves, finely cut
In a deep vessel, heat some oil on medium flame, add the mustard seeds and once they start to sputter, put in the hing, red chilli and curry leaves and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes.
Transfer the tamarind extract to the pan, add some water and once it begins to boil, add salt, turmeric powder, sambar powder and cook for a few minutes.
Transfer all the vegetables and boiled toor dal to the flavoured tamarind water in the pan and keep stirring on low heat for 10 minutes, until all the seasonings blend in.
Switch off the stove, garnish the kadamba sambar with a fresh sprig of coriander leaves and serve hot with warm rice.
Kadamba sambar is blessed with the goodness of fresh green vegetables, which provide key vitamins and minerals to boost vitality and keep deficiency conditions at bay. Tamarind possesses powerful polyphenol antioxidants, which prevent cancer and heart disease. Toor dal supplies ample proteins for strong muscles and coriander leaves comprise calcium, magnesium and phosphorous to fortify bones. Also Read: Coriander Leaves: 5 Excellent Health Benefits Of Adding These Aromatic Leaves To Your Daily Diet
Dry Fruit And Nut Pongal
A customary dessert prepared on the festive occasion of Sankranti, sweet pongal made with rice, jaggery and milk confers immense health benefits such as instant energy, remedying anaemia and augmented metabolism. Include nutrient-rich dry fruits and nuts and enjoy a wholesome sweet dish.
½ cup raw rice
1 ½ cup milk
¾ cup powdered jaggery
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp cardamom powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
10 -12 raisins
Pressure cook the rice and milk, in water, on high flame for two whistles.
Heat some water in a broad vessel, add the jaggery powder and stir, to obtain a paste.
Mix the cooked rice and milk with the jaggery syrup and set aside.
Dry roast the cashews, almonds, raisins, walnuts and dates in ghee, along with cardamom and cinnamon powder to infuse some aromatic flavours.
Top off the warm sweetened Pongal with the roasted dry fruits and serve it for dessert.
Milk contains valuable proteins and acid-regulating components, which greatly relieve discomfort experienced in stomach aches and acidity. Jaggery is a powerhouse of iron, which is a vital mineral for healthy red blood cell synthesis. The cocktail of dry fruits and nuts in the sumptuous Pongal provide beneficial antioxidants, which eliminate toxins and free radicals from the system, ensuring enhanced overall health. Also Read: Try These Super Healthy Recipes Using Dry Fruit, Nuts