Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sankranthi Pongal - delayed post :-)

I have been cooking up a storm in the kitchen for the last week or so now, first it was the ellu-bella preperation and then we had friends over for dinner on the weekend, followed by actual Sankranthi habba. It was a very busy and tasty week in the Sattvaa kitchen, so my Sankranthi pongal is coming in after the fact. Pongal is a staple comfort food in South India while khichdi/Khichri takes its place with the North Indian flavors and variables. It is a one pot dish that is easy to make and tasty to eat.

I make different variations of pongal, sometimes overlaying it with the khichri concepts and adding vegetables and sometimes very plain with just the dal and rice. Amma makes a slightly dry version of pongal called 'pulagam' which is eaten with spicy rasam for dinners when the cooks are tired :-). BH likes the runny version of Pongal with some chopped cucumbers in it, my daughter loves it with rasam and roasted papads.

Pongal happens to be a common offering to God in many Indian temples and as all dishes made in the temples it has that special taste. I love the Pongal they give you after the pooja in Pittsburg Balaji temple - this is not the same as the one you get in the temple kitchen afterwards although that is quite delicious too. The one you get inside the temple after it is offered to the Lord comes in limited quantity - like most good things in life :-) and is doused in fragrant ghee and has the right amount of pepper and cumin to take you on that heavenly journey. I am quite satiated with one morsel of this Pongal.

On Sankranthi festival, nammamma made sweet and khara (savory) Pongal and the khara Pongal would have avarekalu. I made the plain khara Pongal and instead of the sweet pongal made Pappadri.

What do you need to make Khara Pongal?
3/4 cup Moong Dal/Hesaru bele/pesaru pappu
1 cup Rice (do not use Basmati rice variety)
1 Tblsp pepper corns, crushed slightly
1 Tblsp cumin seeds
1 Tsp mustard seeds
4-5 curry leaves, chopped into small pieces
2 Tblsp ghee (clarified butter)
1 Tblsp salt (adjust to taste)
2 Tsp cashew nuts - broken into half
5 cups of water

How do you make Khara Pongal?
Pappadri, Ellu-bella & Khara Pongal
  1. Roast the Moong Dal in 1 Tblsp of ghee on medium heat until it turns slightly pinkish and gives a roasted aroma
  2. Add the rice and roast for a couple of minutes until the rice becomes slightly transparent. 
  3. Take both dal & rice onto a plate. 
  4. Heat 1 Tblsp of ghee in the pan you are going to make the Pongal (preferably pressure cooker) 
  5. Add mustard seeds, chopped curry leaves, crushed pepper, cumin seeds and cashew nuts until mustard crackles and cashews turn golden brown
  6. Add the fried dal & rice mixture, add salt and water and give it a mix with a spoon
  7. Cover & cook until soft, if using pressure cooker cook it for the same duration you would use for your dals. 
  8. Let the steam come down, mix everything together and serve with a dollop of ghee on top. 
Our Sankranthi offering to God
  1. Moong dal to Rice ratio is an acquired taste and you can experiment with more or less dal, the above proportion works for us.
  2. Moong dal with husk variety gives you a really rich Pongal if you want to try that and enhances the taste.
  3. Add a Tsp of grated ginger while cooking if you like ginger. 
  4. Add a Tsp of grated fresh coconut to the pongal just before serving. 
  5. Adjust the amount of water based on your preference, the amount I used above made a soft Pongal


Anonymous said...

Looks mouth watering. What is the sweet for sankranthi?

NamsVeni Pothas said...

pongal is really a lovely and healthy one also easily digestble. temple pongal is some thing very delicious . thanks for the trditional recipe.we can mix even some veg. in it. looking forward many more loke this

Nagashree said...

Thanks papa pinni, made pappadri for sweet, will post the recipe some time soon.