Pongal is a harvest festival of India. It is celebrated with different names in different regions. In Tamilnadu it is named after the ceremonial dish Pongal which means to boil or over flow. This traditional dish is prepared from the new harvest of rice along with milk and jaggery. It is first offered to Gods and Goddesses and then taken as prashad.
In earlier times this was cooked in an earthen pot using fire wood. This was done in the courtyard or in front of the house which was decorated with rangolis. These days this is not possible as most of us live in the apartments and we make use of pots, pans and pressure cookers to make pongal. However in rural areas the tradition still continues.
Let us now proceed with the recipe.
Raw rice .............. 3/4 cup
Moong dal .......... 1/4 cup (yellow split moong dal)
Organic jaggery ... 3/4 cup
Ghee / clarified butter .... 3-4 tbsps
Milk ......................... 1/2 cup (or more if you like)
Salt ..................... 2 pinches
Nutmeg powder ... 2 pinches
Cardamom powder .. 1/2 tsp
Cashew nuts ........... handful (split into halves)
Raisins .................. handful
Water ................. as required (about 3 and 1/2 to 4 cups)
1. Soak the rice for 1 hour or more. Well soaked rice makes a perfect texture of pongal.
2. Heat 1 tbsp of ghee in a pressure cooker. Do not overheat the ghee.
3. Wipe the moong dal with a cloth and saute it in the ghee.
4. Next add the cardamom powder, salt and the nutmeg powder and stir,
5. Tip in the rice and add 2 and 1/2 cups of water. Mix everything.
6. Close the pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles.
7. Open it after the pressure is released.
8. Now add the jaggery powder and 1/2 cup of water. Mix until the jaggery is melted.
9. Stir in the milk and keep mashing with the ladle until well mixed.
10. Add 1 tsp of ghee and simmer it a bit. After little while add one more tbsp of ghee.
11. Adjust the texture as per your requirement as it thickens on keeping.
12. Now heat the remaining ghee in a small pan and fry the cashews and raisins.
13. Mix them into the prepared pongal saving few for garnishing.
14. It is best enjoyed hot with little ghee added on top.
1. For a nice and soft texture of pongal soak the rice very well.
2. Moong dal may be sauteed dry or soaked along with the rice. Choice is yours. But the sauteed version gives a better flavour.
3. If using normal jaggery then cook it with water, strain it and add to the pongal.
4. Do not over heat the ghee as it looses its flavour and nutritional value.
5. In South India edible camphor is also added. If you have it add a tiny little pinch equal to a fenugreek grain. You may skip it if you don't have.