Thai Pongal – Good times are bustling away!

By Free Famous Food Writer

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Flourishing and welcoming the goodness, that is what the term ‘Pongu’ means in Tamil. In another word, prosper. Deriving from there, the harvest festival, ‘Thai Pongal’ is celebrated by South Indians around the globe. It is an ancient custom to cook ‘Venpongal’ on ‘Thaipongal’ day. The traditional dish ‘Pongal’ has two modification, one sweet and another savoury which is served on a banana leaf. When “Pongal’ is almost ready and boiling at its peak, members of the family gather and whoop “Pongalo Pongal”, to usher great happenings for the year.

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Pongal festive mood is at full swing this week at Little India. Serangoon road has been lighted up and it’s a glimmering sight. These amazing colours adds live to the festive mood. Campbell Lane has transformed into a mini village with ‘Pongal’ items, sugar canes, prayer items and the list just goes on. You can see various ‘Pongal’ pots made in clay and metal which is used to cook the ‘Pongal’. There is a special corner for cows and calves where they are beautifully accessorized and their horns painted in dashing colours. Spectators can feed them, guided by the officials. Cows also have their significance during “Maatu Pongal” which have been helpful to farmers during their farming process. Not to forget ‘Kolam’, which is traditionally made with rice flour, beautifies the atmosphere with its vibrant colours. ‘Kolam’ competition will be held all around Singapore during this festive season. These splendid set-ups have been a yearly affair. One should not miss the ‘Pongal’ themed performances lined up at Campbell Lane. Just grab some ‘Venpongal’ at the ‘Pongal’ cooking by the road booth while watching the culture programs. An exciting sight I would say.

Generally, there will be specialized dishes during the three days of ‘Pongal’ in most South Indian restaurants in Little India. Let’s check out on where we can satisfy our authentic Indian vegetarian cravings and what some of our restaurants are offering in their menu during ‘Pongal’ festival.

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Ananda Bhavan restaurant, being one of the oldest has lined up delicious spread this festive season. Their exclusive South Indian Thali set consists of plain rice, sambar which consists of white carrot, unripe mango and broad beans. There will be three different types of side dish, namely, brinjal, drumstick, sweet potato and cow pea beans mixed in an authentic style and secondly, raw banana stir fry and thirdly sweet & sour ‘Pachadi’(pickle). The Thali set meal completes with sweet pongal, ghee dhal, vadai, parupu payasam and the list continues. There will be a total of 18 items on your banana leaf so head down to Ananda Bhavan restaurant for a scrumptious meal on ‘Pongal’ for lunch.

A slight shift to the Andhra side, like ‘Thai Pongal’, they celebrate ‘Sankranti’. Vanabojanam, one of the Andhra restaurants in Singapore has aligned some awesome dishes. Apart from their Thali set, they have included tamarind rice, dahi vada and banana have been added to give a complete meal. To our privilege, they have included two mouth-watering sweet items, which is the sweet Pongal & Double ka Mehta. Double ka Mehta is a popular Hyderabad styled dessert. Double ka Mehta is a must try on their menu. Don’t miss it.

Vegetarian Lovers Paradise, Sangeetha Bhavan has been growing fast since its start up in two years ago, and they have added some new components to their agenda. They cater authentic South Indian tiffin varieties, North Indian breads & subzis, typical Calcutta chaats, freshly squeezed fruit juices, fresh cream cakes and Indian sweets, pastries & desserts. This ‘Pongal’ festival, they will be selling personalized packed ‘Pongal’ priced at only $1. You can either have it in their restaurant or do a take away. Time to seize this special promotion.

Have a jolly good Pongal.