Pongal is a festival celebrated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Singapore, Sri Lanka and other countries that have large Tamil Nadu descended populations. It is a four day harvest festival held during the month of Thai in the Gregorian calendar, which occurs sometime in January-February. Part of the harvest will include rice and other cereal grains, turmeric and sugar cane. Therefore, these ingredients are used liberally in the traditional Pongal foods.
There are several both savory and sweet versions of rice pudding that are traditional to eat during Pongal. In fact, the rice pudding itself is also known as Pongal as in Ven Pongal and Kolkandu Pongal, the two versions I previously made. On the second day of Pongal, it is traditional to boil rice in milk outdoors in earthenware pots with a turmeric plant tied around the pot. This cooked rice along with banana, coconut and sugarcane is offered to the sun god, Surya (also known as Aditya, Bhanu or Ravi Vivasvana) to thank Surya for a fruitful harvest. This is why so many different versions of Pongal (rice pudding) are made during the holiday.
This version uses just a few simple ingredients to dedicate to Surya.
(adapted from Padhu)
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 1/2 cup rice
- 2 tablespoons split yellow moong dal (mung beans)
- 4 cups milk
- 3/4 cup powdered jaggery
- 3 green cardamom pods
- a pinch of edible camphor/edible gum (see note)
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 1 tablespoon cashews
- 2 tablespoons golden raisins
Soak rice for 1/2 an hour. Drain.
In a saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the ghee. Add moong dal and stir fry until golden brown. Add to drained rice.
Add milk to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add rice and moong dal. Simmer for 25 minutes until thick and creamy.
Add jaggery and stir to combine.
Using a coffee/spice grinder, grind cardamom seeds and edible gum to a powder.
In a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee. Add cashews and fry until golden brown. Add raisins and fry for 1 more minute. Add to rice.
Cook for 2 more minutes.
Note: I used edible gum, but edible camphor is traditional.
I am sure Surya would like this offering 🙂