Pongal Recipes For You And Your Family
Created by Nandini Muralidharan Updated on Jan 14, 2018
As a Tamilian, Pongal is one festival that I look forward to every January. My earliest memories of Pongal include eagerly waiting for the Pongal pot to boil over (in fact, the word 'Pongal’ itself means to boil over), shouting loudly "Pongalo Pongal, and crunching sweet sugarcane while the juice ran down our chins." Following this, my mother would serve some of her delectable "Sakkarai Pongal" (Sweet Pongal) and Ven Pongal (white, savoury Pongal) with crisp Vadas. This was brunch on Pongal morning. So, this Pongal I’d love to share some of my favorite festival recipes with you.
What Is Pongal?
Pongal is a harvest festival to give thanks to the sun god. It is celebrated in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and by Tamilians all over the world. The food prepared during this festival is significant, because it is prepared in celebration of the excellent harvest.
There are a few different celebrations that Pongal involves-
- Bhogi: This is the first day of the celebration, and it is a thanksgiving to Lord Indra. Bonfires, folk dances and beautiful kolams (rangolis) mark this festival
- Dedication to the sun: The Surya Pongal on the second day is celebrated by preparing goodies with rice, lentils and jaggery. This special dish called 'sakkarai pongal’ is prepared in the pot that boils over – Pongal!
- Thanksgiving to cattle or Maattu Pongal: Cattle are an important part of farming, and to show our gratitude to them, we celebrate Maattu Pongal
- Kaanum Pongal: Is Celebrated with family, and women pray for the wellbeing of their brothers
Pongal Recipes For You And Your Family
Just like any other festival, there are specific dishes that are 'Pongal Specials'. Rice and lentils are widely used in the preparation the Pongal feast. Jaggery is another commonly used ingredient, signifying the sugarcane bounty of the season. Here are some of my favorite recipes from the Pongal spread in my mother’s kitchen.
Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal)
This is a Pongal festival special that never fails to evoke the fondest memories in me. The aromas of the nutmeg and cardamom blending into the Pongal pervades the entire house and has come to represent the festive season!
Ingredients For Making Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal)
- Raw rice - 250 Gm
- Moong dal - 2tbsp
- Channa dal - 1sp
- Jaggery powder - 450 gm
- Cardamom - 15-20 pods
- Nutmeg powder - 2 pinches
- Ghee - 250gm
- Milk - 500 ml
- Cashew nuts – 100 gm
Method For Making Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal)
- Wash the rice well. Add the milk and one glass of water to it
- Add the dal to the above mixture, and pressure cook well for 3 whistles or so
- When the mixture is cooked, mash well when it is still hot and transfer to a thick bottomed pan
- Add the jaggery powder to it and mix
- Transfer the mixture to the stove. Add the ghee gradually (in 3-4 installments) and stir slowly as you do so
- Crush the cardamom pods to a fine powder (or you can use readily available cardamom powder)
- Add the cardamom and nutmeg powders to the mixture and stir in slowly for 10-15 minutes
- Roast the cashew nuts in ghee
- Garnish the sakkarai Pongal with the cashew nuts, and voila! Your Pongal dessert is ready
Ven Pongal (White Savory Pongal)
The savory Ven Pongal adds a nice balance to the sweet goodness of the sakkarai pongal. This is an extremely simple dish that can be whipped up in no time!
Ingredients For Preparing Ven Pongal
- Raw rice – 200 gm
- Moong Dal – 100 gm
- Ghee – 100 gm
- Crystal Salt – to taste
- Jeera (Cumin) – 1 ½ tsp
- Whole pepper – 1 tsp
- Cashew nuts – 50 gm
Method To Prepare Ven Pongal
- Cook the rice and dal in a pressure cooker with 3 ½ glasses of water (soft, just the way you would for Khichdi).
- You can add the salt to the mixture before cooking.
- Crush the jeera and pepper well and roast them in a teaspoon of ghee. Keep aside.
- Fry the cashew nuts with ghee and keep aside.
- Once the rice and dal mixture is cooked, add the spices while it is still hot and mix well for a minute.
- Garnish with the roasted cashew nuts, and serve hot!
So this Pongal, let’s prepare these wholesome dishes and celebrate food with our loved ones. Happy Pongal!
How do you celebrate Pongal or any similar harvest festival? Share your experiences with us in the comments section!