Sankranti is a festival that is celebrated across India. This is essentially a harvest festival, and goes by various names depending on the region: Makara Sankranti (most parts of the country 🙂 ), Pongal (Tamil Nadu), Lohri (Punjab), Bihu (Assam), among others. It is the about movement of the Sun towards the Northern Hemisphere, and therefore the onset of Spring/Summer. In Gujarat and Maharashtra, colorful kites are flown in to honor the Sun God.
Sankranti is also one of the very few festivals that falls on the same day every year: January 14th, with a few exceptions of being on either 13th or 15th.
In Andhra the celebrations extend over 3 days: Bhogi, Sankranti and Kanuma. Each day, every family has its own version of muggu that is made outside their house to showcase the festival. And as with every festival, each day has its own menu, which includes a variety of spicy and sweet preparations!
Here’s what we prepared on Sankranti: Chikkudukaya Kura (bread beans vegetable), Mukkala Pulusu, Utti Pappu (plain Dal), Pongali, Vada, Pacchi Tomato Pachadi, steaming hot rice, fresh sweet curds (yogurt) and ghee (clarified butter). Quite the menu!:)
The Festive Thali!
This is a much-loved Andhra tiffin item. It is served at least once during weddings and other functions, as well as made at home during festivals. And sometimes, just for the sake of it! 🙂
Perugu Vada along with normal Vada
Recently we decided to make it at home, just-for-the-sake being the reason! And that my parents were around, and we wanted to have something special for them.
The preparation for this particular needs a lot of planning, and cannot be made at the spur of the moment. There are 2 components for this dish: the vada and the curds/yoghurt.
The yoghurt needs to be sweet i.e. freshly set. Even a slight sourness would spoil the final result. So it is important to set the curds early in the morning, so that it’s ready by the time of making the vadas.
- Preparation for Vada:
- Soak the urad dal for 3 hours, remove all water and then grind to a thick batter.
- Add small amounts of water to help grinding, if needed.
- Keep the batter for the vada refrigerated for a couple of hours before using. This will prevent the vadas from soaking too much oil.
- Preparation of the yoghurt:
- Add salt, turmeric, curry leaves, coriander, chopped ginger and green chillies and mix well
- fry the tadka in 1tsp oil. Once the aavalu start popping, add to the yoghurt and set aside
- Making the Vadas:
- Heat a large wok with oil enough for deep-frying. Set to medium heat, and ensure the oil is well heated.
- Keep a sheet of plastic (an empty milk packet will do) and a basin of water at hand
- Make the sheet slightly wet by passing your wet hand over it.
- Then take a small amount of vada batter and spread into a circle over the wet patch
- Be careful that your hand is wet at all times, but that you are not adding more water to the batter.
- Gently lift the sheet and transfer the flat circle of vada batter onto your hand, and transfer to the oil.
- This is the difficult part, and comes only with practice.
- Fry till nicely brown-ed and removed from the oil into a basin for cooling.
- transfer to yoghurt when cooled and turn over so that it is coated with yoghurt properly.
Set aside when done for a few hours. Once the yoghurt seeps into the vadas, the taste of the dish will get enhanced.
This can be had as a snack or dinner, or as a side dish for lunch. Very versatile indeed! 🙂
Almost every festival has this item as part of its Prasadam in Andhra Pradesh. It is made by people from other states as well, though not necessarily in the same way.
Vada Pappu is simply soaked moong dal. Once it has soaked sufficiently, the water is drained, and the vada pappu is put forth in the prasadam. One can have the vada pappu with finely chopped pieces of coconut and green chillies as well. But traditionally, prasadam is served plain.
Panakam is essentially a jaggery syrup. It is usually spiced with cardamoms. However, during Dussera, it is also spiced with pepper, adding another dimension to the flavour. Unlike sugar syrup, Panakam has a slightly acidic taste. The cardamom and pepper temper the sweetness. So the main focus is the amount of jaggery used, and sufficient amount of pepper and cardamom have been used. Together, the flavours are heavenly! Mostly the ratio of jaggery to water is 1:1. So dont be baffled if the jaggery you’ve used is light in color, and the panakam is dark. Jaggery does tend to turn dark when added to water.
When served together, the vada pappu tends to soak up the sweetness of the panakam, so one doesn’t feel as though you have something very sweet and heavy.
That, of course, becomes the perfect excuse to indulge in a bit of festive sweetness, a bit of vada pappu – panakam.