Friday, October 06, 2006

Pongal - Sweetened Rice and Lentils

Dear Foodies,

Here is the first recipe among the goodies I made for Dasara.

My entry to Luv2Cook's JFI-Ghee event

Pongal, is a rice and dal mix that is cooked in jaggery and made rich with generous amounts of ghee and dry fruits, raisins and cashews roasted in ghee in particular. Coming to think of it, the word dry fruit in most South Indian sweets, more often than not implies, raisins and cashews. Very rarely have I seen other nuts used. And interestingly, though there are soo many festivals celebrated in India each one of them has a particular 'traditional festival-menu' attached to it. This was probably deviced to treasure the hundreds of recipes that our forefathers came up with. In our house its not just the sweets and savories but the daily lunch/dinner menu is also a custom-made one for that particular festival !!

Well back to Pongal, I think its one of the easiest sweets you can dish out, and it is relatively lesser time-consuming and does not call for much of your attention either. Leave the dal and rice to cook and take care of the other things in kitchen till then. Get back to it after sometime, add some jaggery-dissolved water, forget about it yet again and let it simmer, finally add a few dollops of ghee and dry fruits. And Voila,Its done !! You have a comforting and rich dish ready to serve.

Home-made ghee would be the best for this recipe or for any Indian sweet, for that matter, the better the quality of the ghee the more mellowed the flavor and the aroma is just enticing. This month's Jihva event hosted by Luv2Cook is all set to showcase the pivotal role that ghee plays in our cuisine.

This time I made a few variations to my usual recipe. I cooked the rice and dal in half milk - half water mix instead of just water. And I also forgot the amount of dal to add and went ahead and tossed in dal equal to nearly half the amount of rice. And when the final taste was different from what I had planned for, I called Customer Support, my Mom :-) She pointed out to me that we have to use very little dal. She said, the reason a little dal is added to the rice is, plain rice is never offered to the Gods, so we add a lil moong dal and/or channa dal to it. Now you ask might want to ask why not just plain rice...?? According to tradition, plain rice is offered to God only when mourning a death in the family, and so for every other occasion a little dal, even if it is just a few grains, is added to the rice while cooking it and offered as naivedyam. Even for everyday naivedyam, my mother adds a few grains of toor dal to the rice.

  • 1 1/2 cup - Rice
  • 1/4 cup or lesser - Moong dal
  • 1/4 cup or lesser - Channa dal
  • 4 cups - water (or your usual ratio for 2 cups rice )
    2 1/2 cups - water & 2 cups - whole milk
  • 3 cups - Jaggery (or equivalent amount of sugar)
  • 3-4 Tbsp - Ghee
  • A handful of raisins and cashews/almonds
  • 3-4 nos - Cardamom pods/Elaichi, powdered (optional)
for garnishing:
  • chopped fresh coconut pieces
  • ghee
  • honey
  1. Pressure cook the dal and rice with the water or a water+ milk mix.
  2. In a separate pan toss in the jaggery with a cup of water and allow it to melt. It does not have to get a syrupy consistency, we only want the jaggery to dissolve in the water. This might take just 5-6 mins and so you can do this after you have switched off the rice cooker and are waiting the steam-pressure to ease.
  3. Add the jaggery water and powdered cardamoms to the cooked rice-dal mixture, stir well and simmer for 8-10mins. Check ferequently to avoid the bottom layers from burning. If using sugar you dont have to make a syrup, you can directly add the sugar with some water to the rice-dal mixture while its hot and stir on low heat.
  4. Roast the dry fruits in 1 Tbsp of ghee and add it to the rice along with the rest of the ghee. Mix well, add a little more water if required. Keep in mind that the pongal thickens when it cools, so turn off when it is still holding some water.
  5. Serve hot or cold. While serving you can garnish it with chopped pieces of fresh coconut and/or a drop of ghee. My father likes to drizzle a spoon of honey on his !! YUMMM :-)
  • I did not have fresh coconut, so I roasted some dessicated coconut flakes in warm ghee and added it to the pongal.
  • If you use just water to make the pongal, the final dish will have a deep yellowish brown color from the jaggery. Since I added milk, the color has lighened.
This bowl of Pongal is now off to Luv2Cook's medley of JFI -Ghee dishes :-)

9 thoughts:

FH said...

Pics are beautiful as usual!! Looks delicious and easy enough to make in a jiffy!Like rice pudding Indian style!!:)) Thanks Priya!!

Anonymous said...

Lovely recipe Priya. I like pongal very much, but never tried it making with different daals. Thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

All time favorite Pongal, but never have done with thoor dal/channa dal combo.

Jayashree said...

Very nice pic...i have only tried this with moong dal...yours is different...might try it this way next time.

Mahek said...

lovely presentation!!!
it looks very festive
a great way of writing a recipe too.
I have a theme for all my blogger friends
Just read the theme and send me your entries
There is no compulsion.
As its not a event only a theme for all of us to feel closer to each other.
There is no deadline and multiple entries are welcome
Pls send me an email at
Send me your link too.
you have mentioned in this post that you have special menus for festivals it would be lovely if you click a plate of food on festivals and send it to us.

indosungod said...

Priya, Sweet Pongal looks delicious, cooking this dish makes the day auspicious right?

Priya said...

Hi Guys,

I made a correction in my post. I used Moong dal and Channa dal not TOOR DAL ..that was typo...though I had moong dal in my mind, I keyed in toor dal instead. Sorry :-P

Nabeela said...

your room-mates appreciate your cooking, I'm sure....lucky for them you're a foodie! :)

Abha Iyengar said...

Love the Pongal sweet dish, makes my mouth water just reading about it.I also love your little insights into the traditions and logic that go with Indian cooking.

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