Monday, January 14, 2013

Sweet Pongal for Makara Sankranthi

Happy Makara Sankranthi/Bhogi/Pongal to all my readers. I am taking a break from my chatty chat posts and blogging about a very traditional, just divine recipe of sweet pongal which also goes by the name Sakkare Pongal (Sakkare = sugar) although it is made of jaggery (or the less refined and less processed sweetener).

Some well known facts about Makara Sankranthi - Makara Sankranthi (or Sankramana in Sanskrit) is the day when Sun moves from Saggitarius to Capricorn. Sankramana  refers to Sat or samyak (~good) Kramana (~movement) and the period of the year beginning with Makara Sankranthi is considered to bring in the light of wisdom. While all Hindu religious festivals follow the lunar positions, Makara sankranthi follows the Solar positions and hence falls on the same day (Jan 14th every year except for the leap year) in the Gregorian calendar.

Makara Sankranthi has a spiritual, cultural and social significance. The day according to scriptures was the beginning of the new Year in Hindu calendar. As the Sun moves through the zodiac signs, the weather & climate changes from a dark, cold winter to brighter Sunny days, it is heralded as the beginning of the period suited for pursuing nobler goals and taking up spiritual practices. Many regions in India have the practice of burning all of their old clothes and other things thus marking a new beginning. As the time of the festival coincides with new crops being harvested in many farming communities, this day also celebrates a bountiful harvest.

Nammamma usually makes a khara pongal with avarekalu (papdi lilva) as it is in season and this sweet pongal for Sankranthi. A plate filled equal portions of these two complementary tastes will fill you up totally. We also used to have an entire evening (starting late afternoon) of fun with all the girls visiting friends to share the ellu-bella. This being the harvest festival, after the crops are harvested, the tools including the animals used in farming would be cleaned and given rest. The sight of the cleanly bathed cows, draped in colorful pieces of cloth, walking slowly with their bells tinkling and making a very musical sound was all part of the Sankranthi evening.
I mixed all my ellu-bella ingredients last night and made the sweet pongal this morning. The golden hue of the pongal cooking in milk & jaggery, aroma from the edible camphor and cardamom are all very reminiscent of the Sankranthi I always remember from my childhood.
What do you need make Sweet Pongal? 
3/4 cup rice (use sona masoori preferably)
1/4 cup moong dal
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 cup water
1.5 cups grated jaggery
1 Tsp edible camphor (crush it gently in a mortar & pestle)
1/8 Tsp powdered cardamom
2 Tsp ghee - divided use
1 Tblsp cashew nuts
1 Tblsp raisins
How do you make Sweet Pongal? 
  • Wash rice and moong dal together in 2 changes of water. Pressure cook with 2 cups of milk and 1 cup of water for 3 whistles (or until it cooks completely)
  • Let the pressure release completely.
  • Take a heavy bottom pan, add the grated jaggery and a quarter cup water, bring it to a rolling boil on medium heat. 
  • Reduce heat to low, add 1 Tsp ghee, pour the cooked rice and moongdal mixture into it and give it a good mix and let it boil in the jaggery syrup for about 15-20 minutes. 
  • The color of the pongal changes gradually from a light tan to a nice golden brown, the raw smell of jaggery goes away and the pongal becomes soft and slightly more solid. 
  • Add the crushed edible camphor and cardamom powder, mix well. Switch off. 
  • Heat a Tsp of ghee, add the raisins and cashew nuts and fry until raisins plump up and cashews turn golden brown and crispy. 
  • Pour this over the pongal (take some gorgeous pictures :-)), mix it in and serve warm. 
  • Cooking rice & moong dal in milk gives the pongal a very rich taste and lets you cut down on the ghee. 
  • Edible camphor gives this pongal a very 'temple made' taste and flavor. If you do not have access to it, increase cardamom powder to about 1/2 tsp. 
  • There is no syrup consistency in this recipe, the jaggery needs to melt completely and come to a rolling boil before you add the rice & dal mixture.


LG said...

Ellu bella mattu pongal superagi kanta ide. Sankranti Habbada shubhashayagalu nimgella.

Julie said...

wow..super tempting dear!!
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Kaveri Venkatesh said...

Happy Sankranthi...Delicious Pongal

Priya said...

Makara sankranthi wishes Nagashree..

Beautiful and delicious pongal,love it.

Gavz said...

Hi... I follow many of ur recipes and they have always helped me.. :-)
Now as a newly married Mysore-kannadiga staying abroad, who is running out of all the amma and attae sent 'pudigalu', I request you to kindly do a post on Manasina pudi and huli pudi! :-)


My favorite, looks awesome.

Nagashree said...

@Gavz - I am glad you find my recipes helpful, thanks for dropping in a comment.

I will be posting 'pudi' recipes soon on Sattvaa, until then savor the ones you have and extend their life :-)

MALINI said...

Poongal looks Yummy...."

Kannada Cuisine said...

That is awesome! Happy Sankranti to you..

NamsVeni Pothas said...

Smkrathi best wishes with Pongal is very nice . pictures are beautiful

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chakkara pongal recipe

Nagashree said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for your kind words.

I believe RSS feeds have some issues regularly updating, if interested, please like my facebook page (links are available on the side bar) to get regular updates. Hope to see you again here on the blog.