We begin everything new with a sweet note, it’s a lovely Indian tradition! So we make delicious sweets to welcome the very first day of the first month in our Tamil calendar. This festival is unique since its celebrated as Thanksgiving not as New Year. Sweet and savory pongal are the two signature dishes prepared for this harvest festival. The main ingredients for these dishes include freshly harvested rice, lentils, cane sugar and dairy products from our local farmers.
In our culture, The sweet and savory flavors represent the ebb and flow of life. So most of our festive dishes have both sweet and the savory versions. These two dishes are beloved by all South Indians because we make them very often. They are very special to me personally since, these are the first two dishes I learned to cook with the help of my mom and grandma and it happened to be my husband’s favorites.
SARKARAI PONGAL – SWEET PONGAL
VEN PONGAL- SAVORY PONGAL
Even though they are easy to make, beginners have a hard time perfecting the taste. After making these for many years I figured out easy ways to prepare them simultaneously and the authentic taste is guaranteed every single time. Ooooo I can the see the sparkle in your eyes already…Let’s get cooking!!!
This recipe yields 4 small bowls of sweet pongal and savory pongal.
- Rice – 1/2 cup (long grain)
- Moong dal – 1/4 cup (split yellow mung bean )
- Water – 2 cups
- Milk – 1/2 cup
First we need to cook the rice and moong dal
- Slightly dry roast the moong dal until it starts to reals the aroma. No need to get the brown color
- Wash and drain the rice, add it to the lentils and toast it until the moisture is absorbed.
- Now add the specified amount of water and milk, mix it well transfer it to a container and pressure cook it for two whistles. Do not add salt or any other ingredients at this stage.
- * If the milk starts to splatter through the weight don’t panic. Just reduce the flame to low and let it cook for exactly 10 minutes.
- * If you are cooking in a pan add 1 more cup of water.
- Once cooked, slightly mash it with the back of the spoon and
- Take out exact half of the mixture for the savory pongal and set it aside.
- Cashews – 2 teaspoons (chopped)
- Ghee – 2 teaspoons
- Heat ghee in a pan, add the cashews and toast it until it gets the beautiful brown color.
- Once it slightly brown immediately take it off the heat and set it aside.
- * Always toast it in a low flame, it tends to get too brown very quickly.
Ingredients for the sweet pongal
Ingredients for the sweet Pongal
- Mashed rice and dal mixture
- Milk – 1/2 cup
- Jaggery syrup – 1 cup
- Ghee – 1 tablespoon
- Roasted Cashews – 1 tablespoon
First we need to make the jaggery syrup (brown sugar)
Ingredients for the syrup
- Jaggery cubes – 3
- If using powdered jaggery – 1/2 cup
- Water – 1 cup
- Freshly ground Cardamom powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Add the jaggery and the specified amount of water in a pan and let it melt and then come to a boil, reduce the flame and let it simmer until it gets a syrupy consistency.
- Add the cardamom powder mix it well, immediately take it off the heat and let it cool.
- The key to make the best pongal depends on the syrup.
- The sweet aroma of the jaggery becomes more prominent only it if you let it boil otherwise it will have a raw taste.
Let’s prepare the sweet Pongal
- Add the cooked rice and milk in a clean pan combine it well
- Keep the flame in low and keep stirring, until it thickens up a bit.
- Make sure the milk is completely absorbed otherwise it curdles when you add the syrup.
- Now pour the syrup stir it nicely and keep cooking until it comes to a porridge consistency, add the ghee, mix it well
- Take it out of the heat immediately and set it aside. It has a tendency to thicken as it cools so don’t cook anymore.
- Garnish it with roasted cashews just before our serve it.
The wonderful aroma of jaggery and cardamom instantly triggers the festive vibes in you. This sweet pongal is enjoyed not only as a special treat on festive days it’s also served on good events like birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and house warming. The sweet creamy delicious pongal is truly a delicacy from south India. I am telling you the combination of jaggery, ghee and cardamom makes it soooo tasty and highly addictive.
Let’s move on to the savory pongal
Ingredients for the savory pongal
- Cooked rice and dal mixture
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Black pepper corns – 1/2 teaspoon
- Green chill – 1 finely sliced
- Ginger – 1 small pice (chopped)
- Curry leaves – few
- Ghee – 1 tablespoon
- Sesame Oil – 3 teaspoons
- Hot water – 1/2 cup
- Salt – 1 teaspoon
Let’s prepare the savory Pongal
- In a pan add the slightly mashed rice
- Mix the salt in 1/2 cup of hot water once it nicely dissolved pour this on the rice and combine it well.
- * This is a trick I follow whenever I need to add salt to a cooked dish, this way it mixes very well and you won’t end up tasting a salty bite when you eat them. Ingenious, right?
- Keep it in a low flame and let it cook until the water gets nicely absorbed
- If it’s slightly goopy it’s perfectly fine since it has a tendency to thicken as it cools too.
Let’s prepare the seasoning
- Heat oil in a pan, add the pepper and close it with a lid since it pops.
- * You must let it pop it actually brings down the heat, it makes it easier to bite and it brings out the best flavor.
- * They normally ask you to do it with all ghee and no oil. But let me tell you why I don’t do that.
- * Ghee tends to burn if it’s heated up to a high temperature. For those pepper to pop you need high heat.
- * So I do it this way, heat the oil, pop the pepper, add the cumin seeds once it’s toasted,
- Reduce the flame to low then add the ghee, now add the curry leaves green chili and ginger.
- Sauté it for just a second and pour it on top of the rice mixture and combine it well.
- Switch off the stove let it stay in the pan so that the flavors get a chance to meld nicely.I guarantee you the addition of oil doesn’t change the taste of the pongal, in fact you won’t even taste it at all, it actually accentuates the sweet smell of ghee.
- I strongly recommend not to reduce the specified amount ghee and oil otherwise you won’t get the desired texture.
It tastes so good when it’s served nice and hot, garnish it with some toasted cashews, it adds a nice crunch to the creamy pongal.
This simple savory pongal is also our beloved breakfast dish we eat them with chutney and sambar. It’s hearty, healthy and absolutely yummy.
PONGAL, CHUTNEY and SAMBAR – SOUTH INDIAN BREAKFAST
We offer these two delicious pongal to🌞Surya Bhavan (sun god) thanking him for the good harvest, hence I call this, The South Indian Thanksgiving.
Tamil means to Overflow. So we believe it brings abundance of Joy and Peace. Wishing all those who celebrate Pongal (Sankaranthi) a very bright and prosperous year ahead!! ☀️Happy Pongal!☀️ .
Published by Latha @ savvysouthindian.com
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