Today being the last day of the No Veggies, 21-Day Lockdown Series and also Tamil New Year’s day (Vishu too!) I thought may be I can finish this series with a special recipe! And thus, here comes sweet pongal for you. (or Chakkara pongal, as we call in Tamilnadu).
Chakkara pongal or sweet pongal is generally prepared with jaggery or even sugar to sweeten the dish. The color and the taste of the dish are mainly from the quality of the jaggery used. Usually, to prepare sweet pongal, ‘Paagu vellam’ is used because it is very soft and crumbly when compared to ‘Urundai vellam’. It is also darker in color than urundai vellam which gives the pongal a darker shade too!
To enhance the flavors, generally, green cardamom is only used. But, sometimes, edible camphor or even cloves is used. I haven’t tried both. May be, I will update soon on how the taste differs while using both. Also, if you are going to use edible camphor, make sure that you do not use a lot as it leaves a bitter taste to the dish.
I cooked the rice and dal together with water only. Sometimes, people even add some milk while cooking the rice and dal. It does give the dish a nice flavor and taste. During the pongal festival, sweet pongal is usually made in a brass pot and not the pressure cooker. And, have you ever noticed how delicious the sweet pongal given in temples are? That is because of the generous use of ghee that gives the pongal a ‘vera level’ taste!
After my marriage, for almost a year I would always prefer to prepare sweet pongal for every occasion or festival. The reason was because it was only the two of us and if I do something elaborate then most of it would go waste and also the main reason is because my husband is not into all these traditional vegetarian dishes so much. So, ultimately it was only for one person, not even for two! Though over the years, I did learn to even cook for one person (yeah, I do feel proud about it now!). Experiences teach us a lot. I think somewhere or the other, something that you learnt and changed over the years would have made you feel proud, right?!
Anyways, because of this attachment that I had with sweet pongal, I thought I would post the recipe for the same on Tamil New Year’s Day, also being the last day of the Lockdown (though technically, lockdown has been extended).
Hope you enjoyed the festival with your family! Have a year filled with happiness and prosperity! While you’re here, checkout my other Indian sweet varieties too! Stay safe, stay healthy! Happy cooking and eating!
- 1/2 cup raw rice
- 1/4 cup split moong dal, yellow
- 2.5 cups water, for cooking dal and rice
- 100-120 grams jaggery
- 1/2 cup water, to melt the jaggery
- 3 green cardamoms, crushed
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 10-15 cashews, split
- 1 tbsp golden raisins
- Wash the rice and moong dal and drain all the water.
- Transfer the rice and moong dal to a pressure cooker along with 2.5 cups of water and pressure cook for 5-6 whistles or until the rice and dal can be mashed thouroughly.
- Meanwhile, add 1/2 cup water and grated or powdered jaggery to a kadai and melt it until jaggery completely dissolves.
- Let the pressure settle naturally. Open the cooker and mash the rice and the dal completely.
- When the jaggery completely dissolves in water, filter it using a strainer in a bowl and add the crushed cardamoms to it.
- Take the mashed rice and dal in a kadai on low heat and add the filtered jaggery water to it. Mix well.
- Add 2 tbsp ghee and mix well.
- Add 2 tbsp ghee to a tadka pan and let it heat. Add the cashews to it and fry them until golden brown.
- Switch off the stove and add the golden raisins.
- Add the fried cashews and raisins to the pongal along with the ghee and mix until fully incorporated.
- Serve with some ghee drizzled over.
- Depending upon the quality of the dal and rice used, pressure cook them.
- The dal and rice should break when mashed.
- While mashing, if the dal and rice seems very dry, then add some water and mash it.
- Add generous amount of ghee. Do not compromise on it.
- Fry the cashews until golden brown. Do not let it burn.
- Add the raisins only after switching off the stove. The heat is enough for them to fry.
- Pour the fried cashews and raisins immediately on the pongal.
- Instead of whole crushed cardamom, even cardamom powder can be added.