Pongalo Pongal! To anyone wondering how one celebrates Pongal, Uma Raghuraman shares recipes while talking about the importance of the festivities.
It’s always exciting to see people celebrating their cultures and sharing them with others in their own way. From traditions to the kind of food they get to enjoy with the family, it manages to grab the attention of people who want to know more about it. Pongal is one festival that everyone finds themselves intrigued to know more about and chef Uma Raghuraman understands why. Pongal itself means, “boiling over” or “overflowing” and Uma describes it as the Thanksgiving festival where people thank nature, especially the Sun, for helping the farmers with a bountiful harvest. “As a mark of respect and gratitude, the freshly harvested rice is boiled in a well-decorated pot with milk and jaggery. When the milk boils over and flows out of the pot, we joyfully shout “Pongalo Pongal”. The overflowing pot is believed to bring good luck, and prosperity and signifies abundance.”
Even though the feeling of gratitude and celebrating our farmers is the one thing one must keep in mind while celebrating this festival, it’s impossible to talk about Pongal without discussing the food. According to Uma, two main Pongal dishes are a must-cook during the festival. First is Sakkarai Pongal or sweet Pongal that must be served hot and enjoyed with ghee. Then it's Ven Pongal or savoury Pongal which can be enjoyed with tangy Pongal Kuzhambu. In addition, one can feast on freshly boiled plain rice with sambar, rasam, vegetable curries, and pachadis. Hot and crunchy Medhu Vadais and crisp Appalams also compliment the festival feast experience. Uma specifically loves traditional Sakkarai Pongal made especially in a bronze or earthen pot.
Here is her delicious Sakkarai Pongal recipe
Sakkarai Pongal | Sweet rice | Sweet Pongal
1/2 cup raw rice
1-2 tbsp moong dal
1 tsp chana dal (don’t skip this as it gives a slight texture to the S.Pongal)
3/4 - 1 cup jaggery (please use Paagu Vellam - The sticky variety)
3.5-4 cups water (adjust)
1/4 cup +2 tbsp tbsp ghee
1/8 nutmeg powder (freshly grated)
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
small pinch edible camphor (optional, only if you like the taste, but add very tiny quantity)
A pinch of salt
15-20 cashew nuts
Here’s how to make it!
Roast the rice and dal in ghee, wash and pressure cook them with 3 cups water for 3-4 whistles on low flame and switch off. Heat 1/4 cup water and melt the jaggery till it forms a thick syrup and switch off. Once the pressure releases, add the jaggery syrup to the cooked rice, and mix well over low flame. Add ghee, cardamom powder, edible camphor, nutmeg, pinch of salt. Switch off and add ghee-roasted dry fruits. Delicious Sakkarai Pongal is now ready!
Hope this recipe captured the Pongal spirit for you! Happy Pongal!
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