Sweet Pongal

I love Pongal. Not just the sweet and salty rice dishes named after the festival, but the festival itself. It is a festival that heralds vitality, shine, food from mother earth and growth. Having spent my childhood in the villages and countryside of Gujarat, Sankranti  holds a special place in my heart. I remember stuffing the pockets of my skirt with Sakkare Acchu,(figurines made out of sugar) and Yellu and running across farms and fields, jumping across little puddles of water to meet my friends.  And no one knew how to eat a sugarcane better than me. After we moved to Ahmedabad, Sankranti was no less colorful. Kite-flying would bring the city’s entire population on their terraces and transform this friendly city into a playground of endless joy. And yes, for some of us who lived in flats,  there was endless supply of Dhani (popcorn), jalebi, khajoor (dates), and  Undhiyu!

Today’s meal is Sweet pongal, tamarind rice, rasam, roti, mixed vegetable curry, and Yoghurt.

Have you had sweet pongal before? It’s very delicious. Try this simple sweet Pongal recipe at home.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup rice (Any variety is fine)
1/4 cup Moong dal
1 cup milk
1 cup water
3/4 cup good quality jaggery pieces (use 1 cup of you have a very sweet tooth)
1/4 cup ghee or butter
1/4 cup cashews
2 table spoon cashews
2 table spoon raisins
4-5 cloves
1/4 tea spoon cardamom powder
A few strands of saffron

Steps:
1. Roast moong dal on low heat for about 3 minutes.
2. Rinse rice a couple of times.
3. In a medium size pot, mix moong daal, rice, milk and water.
4. Cook on low heat covered until milk/water has completely evaporated. Rice and moong will be nice and soft now.
5. In a separate pan, mix jaggery with 1 cup of water and cook for about 5 minutes to get a medium thick jaggery syrup.
6. Add the syrup to cooked rice and moong dal. Add ground cardamom and saffron. Mix well.
7. In a small pan heat ghee/butter. Fry cashews, raisins and  cloves on very low heat until cashews are light golden in color.
8. Add cashews, raisins and coloves to Pongal along with all the ghee.
9. Mix well. Remove from stove.
10. Sing my favorite Pongal poem (below)

Milk Rice the Golden child came – granting
immeasurable ecstacy in her cooking
Farmers with the beauty of lion dream
a picturesque memory this new year gleam.

Elevated threshing floor courtyard the face-where
month of January gave love’s kiss with rice share
abundance in red rice and charity – sweet
to the tongue January child glad to meet.

With the plough he tills the land – the ploughman
is the old man ladder of progress of all human.
Dark clouds and sun our life – milk rice
is dream field’s harvested crop of rice.

Red sugar cane and saffron aplenty – flood
of happiness to sweep our country.
Rise, rise milk rice – bring smile
to the face of the poor, so rise milk rice.


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