I'm posting the recipe, well in advance, for the benefit of my friends, especially those who are trying this for the first time. A lot of my friends got married last year and this is their first Pongal festival celebrated together with their spouse after their wedding; here's wishing them a joyful Thala Pongal :-) Hope you get inspired by the pictures to try Pongal in your kitchen too.
According to the tradition, we boil milk in a wide-mouthed vessel (a big one, decorated with turmeric bunch / manja kothu ) and right when it boils and is about to over-flow, there is a chorus "Pongalo Pongal" from the entire family after which we do Namaskarams (prayers) and pray for all good things to happen in the following year! Pongal in Tamil means "over-flowing" and symbolizes an over-flow of cash/prosperity as well as happiness in the family.
Over to the method of preparation of Pongal -
|Ven Pongal/ Kaara Pongal|
You Need -
Rice - 1 cup
Moong Dal - 1/2 cup
Black pepper - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Cumin / Jeera - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Cashewnuts - about 12 to 15
Ginger, finely chopped or grated - 1 and 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Ghee - 1/4 cup (or a little more)
Salt - to taste (~1 tsp)
How To -
- Rinse moong dal well by changing water about 3 or 4 times. Drain water completely and roast until its slightly reddish in color. (No oil required)
- Rinse rice thrice till water runs clear (almost).
- Boil 4 cups of water in a big pot (Ponga paanai) and then add the rinsed rice and roasted moong dal. When they are almost cooked, add salt and let it get slightly over-cooked (kozhaiya veganum). Finally, mash well using a potato-masher or any similar tool.
- You can also pressure-cook rice and moong dal to get it done quickly. Actually, pressure-cooking (3 or 4 whistles) is better as it's easier to get a nicely mashed mixture.
- I would like to add half-milk and half-water(just like for Chakra Pongal) to cook rice and moong dal to give it an enhanced taste.
- Next, coarsely powder jeera and pepper in an electric mixer or coffee grinder.
- Chop cashewnuts and ginger and keep them ready.
- Take a deep kadai/wok, heat 2-3 tbsp of ghee and roast cashews first. Then, heat 2tbsp of oil and add pepper+jeera powder, let splutter and then add ginger. Fry for another minute and then add curry leaves.
|Tempering for Pongal|
Add the mashed rice+ dal mixture to the kadai and mix well. Add the remaining ghee, gradually, to prevent rice from sticking to the kadai.
|VenPongal with Sambar and Onion Chutney|
Serve with Gotsu or Sambar and any Chutney. Here's Onion Chutney and here's a quick Vegetable Chutney.
Usually, I double the quantities of rice and moong dal (roasted) and pressure-cook them without salt. I use half of this for Ven Pongal and the other half for Chakra Pongal.