I’m starting the first marathon of the year with recipes for ‘Festival of the month‘ theme. I picked the first festival on the Hindu calendar, Sankranthi or Pongal. Makar Sankranthi is a harvest festival is celebrated all over India and even Nepal. The day is believed to mark the arrival of spring in India. It usually falls on the 14th of January and sometimes on the 13th or 15th January.
In AP, where I grew up it is celebrated for 3 days. The first day is called ‘Bhogi‘ when at dawn, people light a bonfire with wood logs and other solid fuels, representing the disposal of old habits, vices and so on. In the evening, infants and children are showered with Regi pallu (Indian jujube fruit). This is believed to wade of any evil from the kids. It is a time for the family to get together.
Second day is ‘Makara sankranthi‘ which is the actual day of the festival when people pray to god and make beautiful, colorful and ornate drawings on the ground with chalk or flour, called ‘muggu’ or ‘rangoli’ in front of the homes. A lot of traditional dishes are made on this day.
Third day is ‘Kanuma‘ and this day is really special for the farmers because it is the day of praying and showcasing their cattle with honor. Kite flying is usually associated with sankranthi, the sky is adorned with colorful kites making it a scene to watch.
For the event, I’ve made some traditional dishes with healthy twists. First up is this Barley pulihora or Lemon flavored barley. Rice is generally used to make lemon rice but here I used some pearl barley. I also used meyer lemons which are more fruitier than regular ones.
Cook Barley: Combine barley, pinch of turmeric, salt and 21/2 cups of water in a saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer till barley is tender, about 35~45 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
Heat 2tbsp oil in a pan, add chana, urad dal, peanuts and mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds start to splutter, add asafoetida, curry leaves and green chilies, cook for 1 minute.
Add the tempering to the cooked barley and season with salt. Add lemon juice and mix well to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.