January 14, 2014

Traditional Sweet and Khara Pongal - Sankranthi Festive food


In South India, pongal is a very common breakfast porridge of rice and moong dal (lentil). There are 3 types. A sweet porridge made of sugar, brown sugar porridge, and a salty spicy porridge made with pepper and chili.
It is also a primary festive dish made for Pongal and Sankranthi festivals in South India. Pongal means "boiling over or spill over." The boiling over of milk in the clay pot symbolizes material abundance for the household. This festival, celebrated at harvest time, is traditionally intended to thank the Sun God.

What I used: Serves 4, makes 2 cups of sweet and spicy pongal

1 cup Moong dal
1 cup raw rice
2-3tsp ghee/oil
coconut milk or plain milk
For sweet pongal
1 cup sugar/brown sugar/jaggery
4-6 whole cashew nuts or chopped almonds
4-6 dry raisins
2 whole cardamoms peeled and seeds powdered. You may use it as a whole too.
Pinch of saffron of turmeric ( only if you are using white sugar)

For spicy pongal
1 small onion chopped
6-10 green chilies slit lengthwise
1 stem of curry leaves
1 small bunch cilantro finely chopped
½ tsp mustard seeds
1tsp black pepper seeds
1tsp jeera seeds
4-6 whole cashew nuts
Salt to taste

Pressure cook or boil the rice and moong dhal with 4 cups of water, until soft and mushy.
Divide the mixture into 2 equal parts. Set aside.

To make the spicy pongal:  
Heat a large pan on medium flame. Add 2 tsp ghee. Toss in the cashew, roast to a light brown. Add mustard seeds, jeera and pepper. After a minute, add green chili and curry leaves. 


Once they splatter, add the onions. Let them turn into a good brown. Add the cooked 2nd part of lentil and rice porridge. Put in salt and 1 cup water. Let it boil for 5 minutes. Finally, mix in 2 Tablespoons coconut milk or 4 t\Tablespoons plain milk. Give it a gentle stir, and let it boil on low for 5 minutes. Serve hot with a top coat of ghee.




To make the sweet pongal: 
Bring sugar and 2Tbsp water to a good boil. Add in one part of the cooked rice and lentil mixture. Cook on medium, for 5 minutes. 


Add 2 tablespoons of coconut milk or 4 tablespoons of plain milk. Now, add a pinch of saffron or turmeric (only if you are using white sugar). Cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Finally, in a separate pan, heat 1tsp ghee, add cashew nuts, roast to a golden brown. Add in the dry raisins. Once they swell, toss the mixture into the sweet. Sprinkle powdered cardamom and serve hot!