It’s 13 days since the New Year has began and I am still in the holiday mood. Our company’s holiday party will be this coming weekend and that adds one reason to continue the holiday spirits. The festivity continues with the arrival of Pongal from 14-16Jan, 2014. Pongal is a very special festival for Indians as it is the time of the year the farmers and all of us take a moment to thank Mother Nature for the bountiful farming season. Pongal is a harvest festival and it is celebrated elaborately in rural parts of India. It is even more popular than Diwali.
Last couple of years I made an elaborate 10 course Vegetarian Meal. If you are up for some cooking fun, wear that apron and get started with cooking this meal (click here). Since it falls on a weekday this year, I will be making just two of our favorite dishes:
My grandparents lived in a small yet an industrial village near Cuddalore. My summer breaks were spent there every year and we will also visit them during major festivals like Pongal and Diwali. During Pongal, our entire family of 30 or so members will come together to offer our prayers to our guardian spirits. They are referred as Kula Deivam or Kaval Deivam or Veetu Deivam in Tamil. You can read about it in Wikipedia here. We pray to our ancestors by cooking an elaborate meal consisting of various seafood and meat. There will also be cigars and alcohol (brandy, rum) in the offerings This is a family tradition and is performed to thank our guardian spirits and ancestors our protecting us against evil spirits. Sounds interesting right?
So with that note, lets make a dessert with brandy. It is one of the simple yet fancy meal to please your guests. Flambe is a cooking technique which uses alcohol to cook. Here, alcohol is poured into a hot pan to create burst of blue flames. Read about it here. I served the hot caramelized bananas with homemade vanilla ice cream and crunchy pistachios. I make my own vanilla ice cream. It’s vegetarian and uses only 3 key ingredients.
Source: Vishi, Neighbour
- 2 ripe yet hard bananas, cut in half
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/3 cup brown sugar or white sugar (I used coconut palm sugar)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup brandy
- Scoops of homemade or store bought vanilla ice cream
- Ground pistachios for garnish
- Heat a medium sized saucepan. Rub the sugar on both sides of the banana. Just press them on the surface of the banana.
- Place the halved bananas face down on the hot saucepan and pour the water and brandy. Gently tilt the pan towards the flame to ignite it. It will burn to a beautiful blue flame. If you are using an electric stove, you will have to ignite it with a match stick. Be careful when you do it. Leave the windows open and keep the house ventilated. Don’t place any flammable material around the cooking area. Move the kids away.
- Once it has completely burned, increase the heat to caramelize the liquid, about 8-10 minutes or until done. It will make the base of the banana brown and sticky.
- Transfer to a clean bowl. Top with scoop of ice cream and ground pistachios. You can add some sticky, gooey speckles of the sauce on top.