Pongal Contest Judging – and More

On friday, Logan’s school held their Pongal festivities. Pongal is the harvest festival and involves a lot of traditions that I am not familiar with, but I got to learn about one of them – the sweet pongal.
Sweet pongal is a dish made from lentils, rice, cardamom, jaggery, cashew nuts and lots of ghee. It can be decorated on top with cashews, rasins, and/or bananas and is a dish involved in Hindu religious rituals that pertain to Pongal.
The school likes to hold contests as a way to involve the parents in school activities. There was a Christmas cake one in December which I entered (but didn’t win, boo hoo), but this one was out of my league as far as cooking it was concerned, so I was asked to be one of the judges.
The girls and I arrived shortly after class started, and I kept them outside until the judging began. They were only expecting a few entries and were suprised to get 41 total. We had to judge them on appearance, taste, and whether or not they had provided a recipe, for a possible total of 10 points from each judge. I wonder if anyone got a full 30 points. The results won’t be out until wednesday because monday and tuesday are holidays. Yes, this is one of those festivals that lasts several days.
While I was busy with this, Glad kept the girls and they had some of the sweet pongal for snack. It was an interesting experience for me as I had never tasted this dish before, and the fact that I wasn’t familiar with it was one of the reasons they asked me to judge in the first place. They wanted an outsiders opinion and they got it. Ha.
Logan’s class in the yard, checking out the setup. Logan is in the back, far left. All the children came in traditional outfits.

 By the end, I started feeling sick from eating all that sugar and ghee. (If you don’t know what ghee is, read this.) Ghee is extreemly rich, and while it tastes good, too much makes the food heavy, but it is a large part of traditional Indian cooking.
Well, it was fun, but I don’t want to eat any sweet pongal again anytime soon. It was interesting to see all the flavors and variations on the dish just from being made by different cooks. Some were ok, some delicious, and a few were yuky, well, to me anyway. A few people went all out on decorating their dish and serving it in a traditional clay pot, while most just put it in a serving dish, though there was variety in that too. I should have gotten a photo of the tables. (Excuse me while I kick myself.)
But I did get one of the cute yard setup. This was supposed to look like a typical farmer’s house and yard, with the cooking being done in the traditional way, over an open fire.

Lila and Scarlett checking out the hut.

Well, I enjoyed it and so did the kids. Read the links I’ve provided if you want to know more about this festival. And now a close-up of the girls cute dresses.

This was one of her birthday gifts from some of Glad’s co-workers.

… and the back. So cute.

She’s had this one for a while now and it still fits.
Leave a comment


  1. Sounds like you had fun, Mercy! The girls are so beautiful and wow what a dress Scarlet has!GBY Glad for making it possible for you to enter the fun! Mom

  2. Those dresses are great! Did you pick the right winner?

  3. They are soooo cute!!!! It makes my uterus hurt. Just precious!!Hey…when I'm reading your posts, it's hard because the font is green as is the background. Can you make your text black to make it easier? You may not be able to but I just thought I'd ask!

  4. I don't know who won as I won't be doing that part, besides, it will only be announced wednesday as mon. and tues. are Pongal holidays.IA, tks. for the suggestion. I'll see about changing it.

  5. Josh

     /  December 16, 2012

    I want to be a food judge. Sounds fun.


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