During my childhood days, whenever Pongal comes, we would go to my paternal grandfather’s house in Ossudu, Pondicherry. Our whole family which includes my first, second and third cousins would assemble and have a nice time for three days. My grandparents would be the happiest couple on earth to see the whole family having fun. My paternal uncles would sit outside the house in the patio (thinnai) and chat with each other. My grandfather would assign all my cousins (of course including me) a task like cleaning tables and chairs, arranging the shelves, being his assistant for a couple of hours, sorting and counting coins, cleaning pooja shelves etc. I would pair up with my younger cousin, and we would do some petty tasks like arranging chepals and sorting coins. It would be a nice fun to work together with cousins. My mom and paternal aunts would help my grandmother in cooking. In the evenings, we (my aunts and cousins) would all sit together and play board games like treasure island, thief and police. What a nice memories! Three years back, my grandmother passed away. I am feeling very nostalgic now as my cousins still meet during Pongal and have fun there. I could not be there for the past 8 years. Missing those wonderful memories.
On Pongal, the women of our family would all make Sakkarai Pongal together in a very big claypot for the entire family. We would all sit in a circle and chat with each other until the pongal starts flowing out. When it starts flowing out, my grandmother would say “Pongalo Pongal” and we all used to shout together “Pongalo Pongal”. Then our men of the family would have lunch and we would serve lunch for them. My sisters would serve rice and Sambar whereas we, the younger ones, would serve poriyal and sidedishes. Later, we (cousins, mom and aunts) would all sit in a big circle, and my grandmother would sit in the middle and serve as “Nila Urundai” which means she will serve each and everyone of us a scoop of rice in our hands. Okay, I am just feeling very nostalgic so lets move on to the recipe…
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes
Recipe Cuisine: Indian
Raw rice – 1/2 cup
Yellow moong dal – 3 tablespoon
Jaggery – 1/2 to 3/4 cup
Edible camphor – a tiny pinch (1/2 the size of a peppercorn) (optional)
Cardamom powder – 1/4 teaspoon
Cashews – 8 nos.
Raisins – 8 nos.
Ghee – 4 tablespoons
Water – 3 cups
1. Dry roast yellow moong dal for 3 to 4 minutes in low-medium flame. The dal color should turn light brown, but make sure it does not get burnt. Wash the rice and combine dal and rice in a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water.
2. Pressure cook rice and dal for 5 to 6 whistles. Once the pressure is released, open the cooker. If the rice is dry, then add little milk or water and mash it well. Switch off the flame.
3. Meantime, take vellam in a pan and add 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil until the jaggery dissolves completely. Then filter the jaggery to remove any impurities.
4. Now add the jaggery syrup to the rice and mix well. Add edible camphor (optional) and cardamom powder. Fry cashew nuts and raisins inGhee, and add them to the pongal. Stir once.
1. Sakkarai Pongal thickens when it cools down, so switch off the stove when it is in semi-thick consistency.
2. The color of the Pongal depends on the color of the jaggery. Usually, Paagu Vellam is considered the best.
3. Drizzle some Ghee at the end as it will enhance the flavor of the Sakkarai Pongal.
4. Add more jaggery if you need more sweetness in the Pongal.
5. If the rice and dal mixture is dry, then add milk instead of water. Milk will add more taste to the Pongal.