Pongal, the harvest festival is one of the most important festivals of the Kongu people. Predominantly an agriculture based society, pongal is celebrated to offer thanks to the sun, land, animals and the equipment in the farm that are essential for their livelihood. Today being "Surya Pongal" (Surya meaning Sun) offering is made to the Sun God. On the next day which is "Mattu Pongal", literally translated to Cow Pongal is celebrated in honor of the animals which are an essential part of any farm.
The name 'pongal' refers to the action of the water 'boiling over' the pot when the rice is cooking. Surya Pongal is usually done in the yard facing the east in the early hours of the morning when the sun is rising. The pot is set on a stove like arrangement made with three large stones and heated with firewood.
I have the perfect spot, a east facing yard for doing just such a pongal but in this cold weather chicken to brave the elements and cook outside so used the pressure cooker instead. Cook the rice/dal combo and rice is ready for both the sweet and
savory Pongal. I use half the rice for the sweet pongal and half for the savory pongal.
1 Cup Rice (I used jeeraga samba rice, any raw rice will do) 3/4 cup split moong dal (roasted) 2 1/2 cups of water 1 cup milk
(Pressure)Cook the rice and dal with the water and milk till soft.
1/4 cup jaggery 1 tbsp ghee 2-3 tbsp cashews and raisins 1 cup milk 1-2 cardamom pods crushed 1/2 tbsp sugar crystals (kalkandu)
Set a heavy bottomed pan on the stove with a very low flame, add (half) the cooked rice/dal combo and add the milk to it Add the jaggery and mix Roast the cashews and rasins in a bit of ghee Add the ghee and cardamom and mix once the milk is absorbed add the roasted cashews,raisins and sugar crystals
The consistency should be creamy.
Ven Pongal (Savory Pongal)
1 -2 tsp pepper corns 1 tsp cumin seeds curry leaves 2 tsp ghee 2 tsp broken cashews
Powder the pepper and cumin heat a small pan and add the ghee add the curry leaves and the pepper cumin powder add it to the cooked rice/dal combo along with the required amount of salt add roasted cashews Mix well
Serve with coconut chutney
We enjoy the sweet and savory after making an offering to God.