Thai Pongal is the yearly celebration of the Tamil culture that’s celebrated across the world with lot of delicious food being cooked on the day of Pongal. And every dish is mouth watering and while it rakes up a lot of calories, the fun of having ones family close by and sharing a delicious meal is something Tamil folks never miss for anything else.
In this post we share some hand picked cooking tips on how to make a mouth watering Sakkarai Pongal or Sweet Pongal and Ven Pongal also called as Ghee Pongal or Khara Pongal.
Lets start with the most common and basic form of Pongal that is cooked in the earthen pot to mark the celebrations of the Pongal festival:
Paal Pongal or Milk Pongal:
In the most basic form, people often boil milk, add some rice to the boiling milk and let it overflow while shouting “Pongolo Pongal” to mark the overflowing of the harvest and thanking the Sun that is the source of all energies behind a good harvest.
This is usually done outdoors to mark the respect to Sun and cooking takes place in an earthen pot over a wood fire that is a temporary setup.
Later during the day the actual Pongal dishes are cooked in a grand fashion. Read on to find out how to prepare these flavorsome Sweet and Spicy Pongal dishes.
Sakkarai Pongal Or Sweet Pongal
As the name suggests this is the sweet version of the Pongal delicacy.
The main ingredients in this dish are:
- Freshly harvested Rice – 1 cup
- Lentils (Daal) – Split Green Gram and Bengal Gram – Half cup each
- Jaggery – preferred, or Sugar can also do
- Clarified Butter or Ghee
- Cardamom powder
- Cashews and Raisins
- Water to melt Jaggery and add gluiness to the Pongal
- Rice and Lentils have to be separately soaked for 25 to 30 minutes in different bowls.
- After soaking, mash the Rice and Lentils and then cook them to a semi solid paste in a bowl
- Grate the Jaggery into a small pan and add water to make a syrup
- Stir the syrup until all the Jaggery dissolves and only the syrup remains
- Filter the syrup to remove any impurities.
- Pour the syrup into the pan and bring it to boil
- Once boiling starts then put the mashed Rice and Lentils and stir till the whole mixture becomes a little sticky.
- In another pan, add some clarified butter (Ghee) and put the Cashews and Raisins and fry them until the cashews become golden brown.
- Once roasted, add the cashews, raisins, and cardamom powder, left over ghee from the pan into the rice-lentil mix and stir well.
- Let the Pongal cool down for a while and serve it with Roasted cashew dressing.
- In this recipe we have cooked the rice and lentil paste in a bowl, however a Pressure cooker can also be used to make a softer paste. Two whistles should be enough to achieve the right tenderness.
- Cooking rice and Lentils can happen together as well instead of cooking them separately.
- To get the golden color of the Pongal, make sure that you use the Jaggery right. The Jaggery adds color to the dish and it’s likely that your Pongal will turn out the same color as your Jaggery.
- Cooking time varies as per the rice used and additional Jaggery syrup can be used to make the dish sweeter.
Ven Pongal or Ghee Pongal or Khara Pongal
Personally this is our favorite dish of all the Pongals. This is the salty version of the Pongal and the aroma of the rice and ghee along with the mouth watering taste of the cashews and other condiments are simply amazing.
The delicacy is spiced with Peppercorns, cumin and chilies. It’s usually served with Sambar, coconut chutney and Vadai.
The ingredients that we need for this preparation are:
- Freshly harvested rice – 1 cup
- Moong Dal – Yellow Moong is preferred.
- 2 Green chilies
- 1.5 tea spoons Cumin seeds
- 1 Table spoon Peppercorns
- Half bowl (10-15) curry leaves
- 1 bowl broken cashew nuts (15-20)
- Quarter spoon Asafetida
- 1 teaspoon chopped Ginger
- 3 tablespoon clarified butter or Ghee
- Salt to taste
- Dry roast the rice and Moong Dal in a pan for 2-5 minutes.
- Soak the roasted rice and Daal mixture in water for 15 minutes, as it will cook faster that way.
- Put the soaked mixture with 3-4 cups of water, half spoon clarified butter, and salt to taste in a pressure cooker and cook until 3-4 whistles.
- Once the pressure cooker cools down then remove the lid and mash the mixture to make a paste.
- In another pan, add the Clarified butter and add the cashews and roast till they turn golden brown
- Remove the cashews from the pan and add some more clarified butter, and then add the cumin seeds, peppercorns, curry leaves, Asafetida, chopped ginger.
- Sauté the mixture for a couple of minutes on medium flame.
- After sautéing, add the mix into the rice and add the cashews as well
- Mix well and make sure that no lumps are present.
- Serve with a thick Sambar, or Coconut chutney or even pickle will do.
Cooking these delicacies is an awesome way of celebrating Pongal and brings up the real flavors of the festive seasons in the hearts, minds and stomach of the people.
Hope you enjoy cooking these dishes and have a great celebration.