Significance of Eating ‘Meethe Chawal’ On Vasant Panchami
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Soon after Makar Sankranti, Hindus start preparing for Vasant Panchami. While Sankranti marks the end of winter, Vasant Panchami officially kickstarts the season of spring. Celebrated usually in February or March, Vasant Panchami is accompanied by a gentle, cool breeze and blooming flowers. Needless to say, all these vibrant flowers also make it to the festive rituals. Many people also worship the goddess Saraswati on this day. She is the Hindu goddess of music, literature and the arts. 

In east India, huge pandals are set up and the idol of Saraswati is installed. People flock to the pandals from the start of the day, decked up in new clothes that are mostly yellow in colour, children come with their books and youth in hopes of finding a partner. That’s right, Saraswati Puja is also popular as the ‘Bengali Valentine’s Day’. After a heart-warming adda at the pandal, everybody makes a trail towards the bhog that comprises yellow Moong Dal Khichdi.  

Vasant Panchami celebrations are equally vivid in the western part of the country too. Rice and the colour yellow play a significant role in the festive feast. Yellow colour signifies spring, so it is used in varied preparations be it main course or dessert. A special delicacy called ‘Meethe Chawal’ is also widely prepared in many Punjabi households. ‘Meethe’ means sweet in Hindi, while ‘chawal’ refers to rice. So, is it a main course, or is it a dessert? Let’s find out.  

Unlike Bengali Bhoger Khichuri which is made with short-grained rice, for Meethe Chawal, preference is given to long-grained basmati rice. The rice is first soaked and drained. In another vessel, saffron is mixed with milk and kept aside. Then in pressure, ghee is heated, post which fragrant spices like cinnamon, cloves and rice are sauteed. Saffron mixture and sugar are added in the fag-end and the rice is pressure-cooked. If you are making it for the first time, make sure you do not have to turn the rice mushy. It is not kheer, but a much drier and richer dessert in comparison. Let the steam pass, transfer the rice onto a plate and separate it using a fork if required, each grain should be fragrant and separate. Serve hot with garnish of mixed nuts.  

The dessert is a hit among both kids and adults alike. The addition of saffron milk lends a bright yellow tinge to the dish, making it all the more appropriate for the occasion. So, this Vasant Panchami, if you are craving a dessert that is slightly unique, then you must try making Meethe Chawal. There are many ways of preparing this simple delicacy, you can have it sans nuts, or cut back in sugar or use alternative sweeteners like jaggery.  

Here is a recipe of Meethe Chawal that you must try.