Today, I am going to share a healthy and traditional festival dish ‘Pongal’ prepared especially for the ‘Pongal’ festival. Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in most parts of India. Pongal festival is also known as ‘Makara Sankranthi’. It is a three-day festival. Pongal is a rice and lentil porridge prepared with freshly harvested rice and lentils.
Today is the first day of the festival. First day of the festival is called ‘Bhogi’. Second day of the festival is the main festival ‘Makara Sankranthi’ and the third day of the festival is called ‘Kanuma’. The festival is celebrated for four days in some regions. Fourth day of the festival is called ‘Mukkanuma’. Each region of India celebrates this festival with a different name and different rituals. Some of the rituals that are common between most of the regions are prayers, rangoli, bonfires, flying kites, preparing traditional dishes like peanut chikki, sesame ladoo and the special dish ‘Pongal’.
There is a wide range of traditional dishes that are prepared as a part of celebration. I have recently shared the recipe of traditional ladoos ‘Sesame Ladoo/Sesame Chikki/Nuvvula Laddu‘ which are fondly relished during this festival. Pongal is another traditional dish prepared for this festival. I am sharing the savory version and the sweet version of Pongal. The savory version is known with different names Katte Pongali/ Ven Pongal /Khara Pongal/Spicy pongal. The sweet version is known as Chakkera Pongali/Sweet Pongal.
Let’s start the process of making this Sankranthi special dish.
Measuring cup used: 1 Cup = 160ml
I cooked rice and moong dal in an Instant Pot pressure cooker. For the rest of the procedure I used separate pans. I have divided the cooked rice+moong dal mixture into two equal portions and used one portion to prepare the savory version and the other portion to prepared the sweet version.
Sona Masoori Rice – 1 cup(I used Sona Masoori rice from Costco)
Split Moong Dal(without skin) – 1/2 cup
Additional ingredients for the Sweet Version:
Grated jaggery – 3/4 cup
Raw sugar – 2 Tbsp. ( I added 1 Tbsp.)
Raw Cashews – 12(chopped into small pieces)
Golden Raisins – 1 or 2 Tbsp.
Freshly ground Cardamom powder – 1/4 Tsp.
Saffron – a pinch
Salt – 1/16 Tsp. (optional)
Ghee – 2 Tbsp.
Additional ingredients for the Savory Version:
Cumin seeds – 1 Tsp.
Coarsely crushed black pepper – 1/2 Tsp.
Green chillies (finely chopped) – 2
Raw cashewnuts – 12(split in half)
salt – as needed
Fresh ginger(finely chopped) – 1 Tsp.
Fresh curry leaves – 15
Ghee – 2 Tbsp.
Procedure to cook Rice and Moong dal in an Instant Pot:
Dry roast moong dal in a thick bottomed wide pan on low heat until you get nice aroma.
Add the rice in the same pan and roast for few more seconds. Roasted moong dal and rice enhances the flavor and taste of the dish.
Let it cool for few minutes.
Rinse and drain the roasted rice and moong dal and add it to the instant pot insert. Add 4&1/2 cups water.
Close the lid. Make sure that the sealing ring in placed under the lid and the anti block shield under the lid is placed and pressed in its position correctly. Turn the steam releasing valve in sealing position. Pressure cook the rice and moong dal in manual high pressure setting for 12 minutes. To do this, Hit manual button. The default pressure setting will be high. Do not change this. Press on minus ‘-‘ button and set it to 12 minutes.
Open the lid when the pressure is naturally released(NR). Instant pot has a indicator pin next to the steam releasing valve to indicate if the steam is released or not. The pin drops down when the steam is completely released. Remove the lid when the pin drops down. The below picture shows the cooked rice and moong dal mixture.
Procedure to prepare the sweet version of Pongal:
Add 3/4 cup jaggery and 3/4 cup water in a small sauce pan. Heat the pan on low heat until the jaggery is melted. Strain the melted jaggery into a seperate pan to remove dirt, if any.
Place the pan with strained jaggery mixture on heat. Cook the mixture for 10 minutes on medium heat(The consistency doesn’t matter).
Reduce the heat to low. Add half portion of the cooked rice+moong dal mixture to the cooked jaggery syrup. Add cardamom powder, saffron, salt and sugar. Mix it well. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
In a separate pan, add ghee and place the pan on low heat. Add cashews and fry until golden brown. Add raisins and saute for few seconds. Turn off the heat.
Add the fried cashews and raisins to the sweet pongal. Mix it well.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. The rice is offered to the god and then served hot.
Procedure to prepare the savory version of Pongal:
Heat ghee in a thick bottomed wide pan on low heat. Add cumin seeds and let them crackle. Add finely chopped ginger, finely chopped green chillies, chopped cashews and coarsely crushed black pepper. Saute for few seconds. Add curry leaves and saute.
Add the other half portion of the cooked rice+moong dal mixture to the pan. Add salt as needed and saute for a minute. Turn off the heat.
Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl. The rice is offered to the god and then served hot with a desired choice of chutney .
I have also shared the recipes for ‘Nuvvula Undalu/Til Ladoos’, ‘Sesame Chikki, Dryfruit Chikki and Peanut Chikki’ and ‘Rajgira Chikki/Amaranth Brittle’ which are usually made for the ‘Makara Sankranthi’ festival.
The harvest festival has been officially recognized by the American state’s general assembly.
We enjoyed the sweet and savory versions of pongal after making an offering to God.
Wish you all a very Happy Pongal. I hope you will enjoy them too (on Pongal Day) !!!!