“Pongal is a harvest festival widely celebrated by farmers in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka to give thanks to the sun god for the abundant harvest,” Naseema Banu says.Naseema Banu, spouse of Dr. Jauhar Ali, a scientist in the Plant Breeding, Genetics, and Biotechnology Division at the International Rice Research Institute, and a pharmacist herself (she is a life member of the Indian Council of Pharmacy) makes this scrumptious snack for family and guests.
Pongal, which also marks the first day of Tamizh on the Tamil calendar, means “boiling or spilling over” in the Tamil language. The expression refers to the preparation of Pongal rice, a porridge dish unique to Tamil cuisine and traditionally prepared for the harvest festival.
According to the ritual, rice is boiled with milk and other ingredients in a new clay pot over an open fire. The milk is allowed to boil and spill over the pot to symbolize overflowing abundance and future prosperity for the family.
This recipe is good for four.
- 1 cup rice (uncooked)
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup grated coconut
- 300 grams Jaggery (unrefined brown sugar)
- 50 grams green gram or mungbean dhal
- 20 grams cashews and raisins
- 4 pieces cardamom (crushed)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 3 1/4 cups water
- Combine the uncooked rice, milk, and dhal in a pressure cooker. Add 3 cups of water and boil for 20–30 minutes until the rice and dhal mixture is cooked. Mash the ingredients thoroughly. Set aside.
- Mix the jaggery with ¼ cup of water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat it on a low flame until the sugar melts completely. Strain the syrup to remove any impurities.
- Combine the cooked rice, dhal mixture, and brown sugar syrup while stirring slowly. Add the grated coconut and crushed cardamom. Allow to boil for a few minutes. Set aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a pan over medium-high heat. Fry the cashews, followed by the raisins, and use them as a garnish.