In all the South Indian states, Sakkarai pongal is one of the popular dishes. Sakkarai pongal is generally prepared in temples and home as a prasadam, an offering made to god. This is pongal is the star of the “Pongal or Maha sankranti” festival.
The name Pongal is originated from the word “pongu” which means “boil” or “spill over”. Traditionally it is made using an earthenware pot, but it can also be made using regular stainless pots or a pressure cooker.
Even though I love sakkarai pongal, I only make them during special occasions as prasadam, such as “Pongal (or) Maha sankranti”, “Tamil New year”, “Ganesh Chathurthi” and “Janmastami”. Apart from these days I sometimes make it when I visit the temple and distribute them to everyone in the temple. So this time I made the sakkarai pongal along with some pepper vada or Milagu vada for a pooja during my last visit to the temple and everyone in the temple loved them. I will post the recipe for the Pepper vada also soon.
2 cups Raw Rice
1 cup Yellow Moong dal
250 grams of jaggery
¼ cup of sugar
½ cup of ghee or clarified butter
2 tablespoon cardamom powder
¼ cup of broken cashew nuts
2 tablespoon golden raisins
8 cups of water
Pinch of salt
Pinch of dry ginger powder or sukku powder
Grate or powder the jaggery and keep it aside. In a small pan add ¼ cup of ghee and fry the cashew nuts and raisins until they turn golden.
Wash the rice and the dal together and soak them for around 15 minutes. In a large pot take 7 cups of water and let it come to a rolling boil. When the water is boiling vigorously add the soaked rice and dal. Cook the rice and dal until they are soft and the water is completely absorbed on a medium flame.
Alternatively you can cook them using a pressure cooker instead of the pot. Just add 7 cups of water to the soaked rice and dal in a pressure cooker. Cook for 4 to 5 whistles. And let the steam cool down completely before you open the pressure cooker.
Meanwhile in a separate sauce pan, boil together one cup of water and the powdered or grated jaggery and make thick syrup. When the syrup comes to a boil switch off the flame. This usually takes around 10 minutes on medium flame. There is no string consistency or anything needed for this syrup, just bring them to a boil.
Now add this sugar syrup into the rice after filtering it to remove any impurities in the jaggery. Keep the stove on a low flame and mix the rice and the jaggery. While doing this you can mash the rice with the back of the spoon and keep stirring it for the rice to absorb the jaggery syrup uniformly.
Now add the remaining ¼ cup of ghee, pinch of salt, pinch of dry ginger powder and the sugar to the rice. Again stir them all together until they are mixed well. Let it cook for another 5 minutes on low flame. The sugar added, gives a glossy look to the pongal and also enhances the taste.
After cooking for the 5 minutes, add the fried cashew nuts, raisins along with the ghee used for frying them and the cardamom powder. Switch off the flame and serve hot or cold.
-- Sang V