What better way to say hello with a post for the festival of the bounty of the earth? How are you doing? I hope the new (old) year is treating you all well. I had high hopes of wonderful things and posts for the close of the year and the beginning of the year… but nothing worked out till this morning and here I am banging away at the keyboard on the morning of Bhogi… when we shed all things old, Consign the waste to flames and begin afresh.
The four day festival of Sankranti is celebrated in my home state of Andhra Pradesh with much fervor. The agrarian background making it one of the most important festivals for us. The embers of yesterday’s fires on the roads of our colony told me Lohri was celebrated, I have been invited to a Maharashtrian neighbour’s house for haldi and kumkum for Sankrant… almost every state of this country will celebrate it in some form over the next few days.
I love that my family made it a point to make something special to mark both Hindu and Christian festivals. Even if we didnt follow the religious rituals, it was a cultural thing to do and i am grateful for the exposure. For my far from agrarian upbringing, mostly urban perspective of everything, this has held me in good stead. I think it is important for me to acknowledge and be grateful for the sheer manual labour that goes into tilling the land to put food on my table. So today i celebrate that. Traditionally newly harvested rice and dal and new jaggery is used… but if like me you have had a block of jaggery sitting in your kitchen shelves getting darker over 6 months, here is your chance to use it.
I’ve posted both Venn (Khara) Pongal and Chakkara Pongal on the blog before… but i must say what i am posting today is a much improved recipe….not to mention better pictures….these are easy versions… for the ever busy urban dweller!
To make both the forms of sweet and savoury pongal, the starting point is the same…. rice and dal to be cooked together. they then take their seperate avatars bathed in jaggery and spices.
Makes 3 servings each
11/2 cup rice, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
2/3 cup split moong dal, washed and soaked for 10 minutes
1 cup milk
3 cups water
Place the washed rice and dal in a vessel, add the water and milk. Place this in a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles till well cooked, but not yet mushy. you can skip the milk and use only water, the milk makes it very creamy. the rice and dal can also be cooked in an electric rice cooker or stove top.
Once the pressure has released, remove the cooked rice and dal and portion it 2:1 for the khara pongal and chakkara pongal respectively
Ghee – 2 tablespoons
Ginger – 1 small piece
Green chillies – 2
Whole Black Peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
Whole Cumin – 1 teaspoon
Curry leaves – a few
In a mortar and pestle, or with a rolling pin, crush the ginger and green chillies roughly.
In a tempering pan, heat the ghee, add the cumin and black pepper, after a few seconds, add the crushed ginger, green chillies and the curry leaves.
Saute till everything is toasted and the curry leaves are crisp.
Pour this over the cooked rice and dal and mix well. Add ¼ cup of water if needed to make it creamy. Serve hot with chutney.
Jaggery – 1 cup, grated
Ghee – 2 tablespoons
Golden Raisins and Cashewnuts – ¼ cup
In a pan, add 1/2 cup water to the grated jaggery heat till the jaggery has melted. Strain with a sieve to remove impurities.
Add the cooked rice and dal to the jaggery and mix well till everything is incorporated.
In a small pan, heat the ghee and add the raisins and cashews. Fry till golden brown and pour this over the pongal. Mix well, serve warm.