Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen

Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen describes about the traditional way of putting kolams for stove, god, pots, vilakku chatti and preparing pongals in pots, preparing vegetables and the method of presenting them to god with the lamps in Chettinad style of celebrating pongal. There may be slight difference in different areas of Chettinad.  I think this post will be more helpful for newly married. To know more about Chettinad click – Chettinad – Wikipedia

Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated by Tamil people in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, the Indian Union Territory of Puducherry and the country of Sri Lanka, as well as Tamils worldwide, including those in Malaysia,Mauritius, South Africa, United States, Singapore, Canada and UK. Thai Pongal (celebrated on the first day of the tamil month Thai) corresponds to Makara Sankranthi, the harvest festival celebrated throughout India.

At first let us see all things needed for a Pongal:-

  • Pillaiyar – 1 (small in silver or brass)
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen - Vilakku chatti pilliyar
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen – vilakku chatti pilliyar
  • Vilakku chatti vilakku – 1 (If you do not have it use ordinary kilinjal vilakku
Vilakku chatti vilakku
Vilakku chatti vilakku
  • pongal pots – 2 number
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen - Pongal pots
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen – Pongal pots

You can use mud pots, or brass pots or stainless steel pots what ever you have at home.

  • pongal stoves – 2  (you can also use gas stoves instead)
Iron stoves used in Chettinad
Iron stoves used in Chettinad
Gas stove with kolam
Gas stove with kolam
  • vilakku chatti – 1 (with lid. Size should be enough to hold one coconut, 2 bananas, small piece of sugarcane)
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen - Vilakku chatti
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen – Vilakku chatti
  • sangu – 1
Sangu
Sangu
  • manjal kothu – 4 number (two for two pots, one for vilakku chatti and one for maatu pongal)
Manjal kothu
Manjal kothu
  • karumbu / sugar cane – as needed
Sugar cane / karumbu
Sugar cane / karumbu
  • banana leaves / vaalai illai (nuni ilai) – 4 number
banana leaf / vaalai ilai
banana leaf / vaalai ilai
  • aavarampoo – little (for vilakku chatti)
Aavarampoo
Aavarampoo
  • kannu pillai poo / koorai poo – little (for vilakku chatti) If you do not get these flowers in your place you can use any other yellow and white flowers.
Kannu pillai poo
Kannu pillai poo
  • coconut / thengai – 2 number
  • banana fruits / vazhai pazham – 6 number
  • betel leaves / vetrilai – few
  • paakku – few
  • flowers – for puja
Puja items
Puja items
  • solagu – 1 (commonly known as muram)
Solagu
Solagu

kolams:-

1. We need kolaputti maavu. This is prepared by soaking raw rice in water for two hours, grinding into a fine paste, filtering through a cloth, making small balls out of it and drying. After drying it completely for 2-3 days, these balls are stored in containers and used instantly when ever needed by adding water.

White Kola putty maavu
White Kola putty maavu

They add colours and give to mamiars as “seer” during marriages. You can see carrots, lady’s fingers, bananas, jasmine and rose flowers in the photo below.

Kola putti maavu made attractive like flowers, fruits and vegetables
Kola putti maavu made attractive like flowers, fruits and vegetables

2. You can also prepare fresh Kola maavu when ever you need it. To prepare this soak one cup of raw rice in water for 2 hours and grind it into a fine paste in a mixie or a grinder. Rinse the mixie and mix it with the rice paste and keep it ready. You can use a piece of white cloth dipped in this Kola maavu and put kolams using your fingers. When you press the cloth, you will get continuous flow of liquid to make kolams.

3. Put kolams on the pots with lids and vilakku chatti with lid. In the vilakku chatti no need to put all around the utensil. Lines on top is enough. A small flower kolam will be put inside the utensils too. It may take few hours to dry. You can put kolam and leave it over night. In the morning you can tie manjal kothu on both the pots. You can tie manjal kothu in vilakku chatti also. Some of them will not tie. They just keep it inside the chatti.

Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen - Kolams on two pots and vilakku chatti
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen – kolams on two pots and vilakku chatti

4. Put kolams on the stove. All these can be put in any curved, zig zag lines of your choice.

Kolam on the stove
Kolam on the stove

5. Put Nadu Veetu kolam in front of god in your Puja room. If your room is carpeted you can put this kolam on a thick board or Chart and keep it in front of god.

Nadu veetu kolam
Nadu veetu kolam

6. Pongal Kolam in the place where we keep the stove and prepare pongals. I have mentioned the sides too as N, E, S and W. In the east you should see gopuram, and like wheels in the north and south and a square in the west where we keep “viragu” which will be in front of you.

Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen - Chettinad pongal kolam
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen – Chettinad pongal kolam

7. Any kolam of your choice in your house entrance.

Now let us go for the preparation of vegetables:-

1. Pasi Paruppu Masiyal

2. Sakkarai Valli kizhangu Poriyal

3. Mochai Kootu

4. Chettinad palaakkai Masala

5.  Parangikkai puzhi kuzhambu

6. Fry appalams, make payasam of your choice.

7. In some places they prepare a puzhi kuzhambu with odd number of vegetables (for example 11, 13, 15, 17) The vegetables used are katharikkai, murungaikkai, mochai, avaraikkai, poosanikkai, urulaikizhangu, carrot, parangikkai, kovaikkai, mulangai, Shimla mirchi, thattai payathangai, pearl onions, tomato, garlic, green peas, vaalakkai, Palakkai, sarkkarai valli kizhangu, beans, cabbage, coconut pieces and any vegetable of your wish.

All the above are not compulsory. Usually people prepare this. You can prepare Pasi Paruppu masiyal, Parangikkai puzhi kuzhambu and others of your choice (what ever you get)

Pongal preparation:-

In Chettinad people usually prepare one sarkkarai pongal in front of pilliyar Kovil at first, do one archani and then at home.

Traditional way of preparing Pongal:-

This is to prepare at home.

Ingredients needed :- (200ml cups used)

  • raw rice / pacharisi – 2 cups (one for sweet pongal and other for ven pongal. Here we do not use any moong dal while making pongal traditionally)
  • milk – 1/2 cup
  • water – as needed
  • jaggery / vellam – 2 cups (achu vellam preferred)
  • ghee – 2 tblsps
  • cashew nuts, dry grapes and green cardomom – as needed
  • coconut – 1/2 cup (grated or chopped)
Achu vellam
Achu vellam

Method:-

1. Pour 1/4 cup of milk in both the pots. Take one cup of raw rice in each vessel. Pour enough water, rinse well and filter the rinsed water in both the pots up to the neck of the pot.

2. Prepare a pilliyar with turmeric powder / manjal podi, keep the arugampul on top of it on the stove. Put kumkum for pilliyar and some flowers. Light a lamp near it. They usually light one “hurricane lamp” near pilliyar in Chettinad. In olden days people celebrate this pongal in fields (harvest festival) and so they prepare pilliyar with cow dungs. Now a days we prepare this pilliyar with turmeric powder.

Manjal pilliyar
Manjal pilliyar

3. Put both the pots in both the stoves and switch on the stoves after praying God and blowing “Sangu” once.

4. Sarkkarai Pongal on your left hand side and Ven Pongal on your right hand side. Once this milk and water rises up and over flows (paal poguvadhu) say “Pongalo Pongal” pray seeing the sun and put a handful of rice in it. Again blow “Sangu”. Using a spoon take out half pot of water to another vessel. Put the stove in low flame and put the remaining rice.

Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen - Water raising up in the pot
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen – Water raising up in the pot

5. Follow the same method for both the pots. When rice gets cooked and water is completely absorbed switch off the stove. In the pot on your left hand side put grated jaggery / Vellam and mix well. It will dissolve in the heat. Remove both the pots from the stove and keep it down. Heat ghee in a fry pan and fry nuts and dry grapes.

Frying cashewnuts and dry grapes
Frying cashewnuts and dry grapes

6. When cashew nuts turns golden and dry grapes pops up, pour it into the sweet Pongal along with ghee. Add grated or chopped coconuts.

7. White pongal will be with plain cooked raw rice. There should not be any water remaining in it.

Now let us see how to do padaiyal to god:-

1. Take four plantain leaves with the tips (nuni illai) and put it facing the sun.(tips should come on your right). sprinkle water and keep it in front of the stove. If you do not have space you can remove the stove.

2. Keep all the vegetables on one side and both the pongals on the other side. Make a hallow in the Ven Pongal and put Pasi Paruppu masiyal and ghee in it. Keep karumbu in the plantain leaves.

Sarkkarai Pongal and Ven Pongal on a banana leaf
Sarkkarai Pongal and Ven Pongal on a banana leaf
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen

3. Break coconut keep coconut, bananas, paakku vettrilai / betel leaves and nuts in front of pilliyar. Also keep one cup of water with a spoon. “Viboodhi” “Kumkum” and “Deepa thattu” in front.

4. Now you can show “deeparadhanai” with camphor and pray. Sprinkle water above the “padayal” blow sangu again. All family members will pray one by one.

5. They put all the banana leaves with pongals on a “solagu” with a kolam and take it to puja room.

Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi's Kitchen
Traditional Chettinad Pongal | Poongodi’s Kitchen

Preparing Vilakku chatti:-

1. Put a small silver or brass pilliyar, one coconut broken into two halves, two bananas, vetrilai paakku, aavarampoo, kannu Pillai poo, a small piece of karumbu inside the “vilakku chatti” keep one lighted lamp inside it. Manjal kothu can be tied outside or you can keep a small one inside. Do not close it completely. Leave a small space in the lid. In some places they keep one piece of “panangilangu” too.

Panangilangu
Panangilangu

2. All members of the family should hold this vilakku chatti and take it to the puja room. Keep it above the “Nadu veetu kolam” in front of God in the puja room. This vilakku chatti should be kept there for the whole day. Next day you can take it and wipe off the kolam. The things inside can be used.

Vilakku chatti kept above the Nadu veetu kolam
Vilakku chatti kept above the Nadu veetu kolam

3. These padaippu food can be consumed by the family members.

Maattu Pongal:-

1. First wipe off the center portion of the kolam for the stove, and put few lines of kolam in the center.

2. Next day only one Pongal is made which is Ven Pongal.

3. This day only Ven Pongal is kept in the banana leaves (3) In the center make a hallow put ghee and a piece of jaggery and do neivedhyam.

Maattu Pongal padaippu
Maattu Pongal padaippu
Maattu Pongal padaippu
Maattu Pongal padaippu

4. These pongals will be given to cow or bull.

These flowers aavarampoo and kannu Pillai poo will be tied in the entrance after the celebraions.

Both Pongal flowers were tied in the entrance
Both Pongal flowers were tied in the entrance

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