CHENNAI: With pongal around the corner, families are busy turning pages of their age-old recipe books choosing the right recipe to replicate for this year’s pongal pooja.While the buzz for pongal reaches its peak during the four-day festival, temples in the city serve the rice dish day after day throughout the year. Served after the morning or evening poojas, the mouth-watering sweet and ven pongals are a definite attraction.While everyone has their own favourites, there are a few temples whose pongals are popular among food lovers in the city.

For Gayathri Shekar, who heads the operations of a city based media company, the sweet pongal served at Triplicane’s Parthasarathy Temple is the best.Visiting the temple since she was a child, Gayathri feels that the pongal tastes exceptionally good during the margazhi month. “Amidst the cold breeze, gulping down some steaming hot pongal is an unexplainable pleasure. My best friend and I have been eating it ever since we were kids.Though he has moved out of the country, we make it a point to visit the temple whenever he comes down and relish the experience,” she shares.The glossy pongal is said to be prepared in pure ghee and dry fruits and nuts are added to give the dish a rich taste. “You cannot stop yourself from taking a serving,” Gayathri adds.

The Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore has been considered as the second bestby food lovers.The ven pongal (salted version of pongal) served at the temple sees devotees throng to the holy ground every morning with the hope of getting a scoopful of pongal.Shruthi Sarangarajan is one such devotee who plans her temple visits in a way that she finishes her prayers when the pongal is being served. “Embarrassing though it may be, when I leave home to visit the temple, I am usually looking forward to having the pongal more than actually visiting the temple.The dish is so simple yet it tastes so different from the usual home-made pongal.When the dish is served, the ghee is seen oozing out of it. Most of the time, I am seen having breakfast at the temple,” laughs Shruthi.

Pongal serves as a childhood memory for Harish Venkat, a college student living in Thiruvanmiyur, whose favourite pongal is served at Sri Rathnagireeshvarar Temple in Besant Nagar. “The temple is situated close to my school so every day, my friends and I, finish all our classes, homework and other chores, and meet at the temple.There is nothing extraordinary about the pongal but the buildup leading to the moment made the pongal special for us,” Venkat shares.

Whether it is the expectation of having the yummy pongal first thing after the morning prayers or to simply relish a spoonful of the rice dish after offering prayers post a long day at work, pongal is an important part of Chennaiites for generations will continue to remain so for generations to come.

Source: TOI-Che