Pongal is a special festival, celebrated in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Coorg and Kerala.  It is a harvest festival, where the harvest of the winter season is offered to God.  The festival is also known as ‘Choti Pongal’, ‘Uttarayanam’, ‘Bharani Malam’, ‘Diwali’, ‘Deepavali’ and ‘Thiruvathirai’.  It is celebrated on the 5th day of the dark half of the lunar month (Karthigai) of the Hindu calendar month of ‘Panguni’ (Tamil month) or ‘Kharif’ (Hindi month)

Pongal or kara pongal is the traditional Indian harvest festival. On this day, people gather food and eat it together, celebrating. There is nothing which compares to the feeling of eating a hot steaming pongal or kara pongal when it is served at home. The word pongal has many meanings; among them are harvest, thanksgiving, and fish. The meaning of kara pongal is the same as pongal, but its pronunciation is different.

As most of us know, pongal is a major festival in Tamil Nadu. It is celebrated for 15 days and the festival starts with pongal. In Tamil, pongal means a mixture of rice and jaggery. The word pongal is from the Tamil word “paniyam”, which means “flour”. The meal is usually eaten in the mornings and evening, but it is as important as breakfast in terms of its importance in the Tamil calendar. The pongal is also important as a part of the yearly festivities associated with the harvest. It is a family affair and everyone cooks it together, it is traditionally served in a clay bowl which are now made of stainless steel or pewter. Pong

In south India, ven pongal/kara pongal is a popular breakfast dish served in restaurants or at home. Ven pongal is a common name for the Tamil kara pongal dish. Ven pongal is a simple meal to prepare, and it’s one of the dishes I usually see served under banana leaves at weddings. Pongal is cooked differently in each home and other locations. The pongal I had at my friend’s home and in restaurants in Karnataka is very different, since it contains dried or fresh coconut, turmeric powder, and is served with a tamarind-based sauce called gojju. The greatest pongal I ever had was in one of my friend’s eateries in Chennai when I was a kid. When I first ordered it, it quickly became one of my favorite breakfasts. Ven pongal/kara pongal became one of my favorite breakfasts after that. The ven pongal/kara pongal was very soft, with ghee pouring out of the banana leaf; it was the finest pongal I’d ever eaten. After that, I tried it at a number of places, but it didn’t taste the same.

To save time and get a very soft texture, I make my ven pongal or kara pongal in a pressure cooker. You may also prepare in a vessel. I use a 1:1 ratio, which is 3/4 cup rice and 12 cup yellow moong dal, or 1 cup rice and 1/2 cup moong dal (yellow split dal). I often use a 1:1 ratio of rice and moong dal, or 3/4 cup rice and 1/2 cup moong dal.

Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup raw rice
    • 1/2 cup moong dal (split yellow dal)
    • 3–4 cups of water
    • a pinch of salt (to taste)

Seasoning (tadka)

  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 tbsp. ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon or more asafoetida (hing)
  • 15 to 20 curry leaves
  • 3 to 4 green chillies (slit)
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 15 oz. cashew nuts (split or broken)

Method

Method 1

    • Preheat the pressure cooker with the oil, then add all of the ingredients (except the ginger and hing) one by one and sauté for a few seconds until the cashew nut is lightly browned. Finally, add the ginger and hing and sauté for a few seconds on medium heat.
    • Immediately add the rice and moong dal, mixing thoroughly with the suated ingredients.
    • Close the cover of the pressure cooker and cook on medium heat, adding water and salt as needed.
    • Cook for 10 to 12 minutes after the pressure cooker has given 2 to 3 whistles. Turn it off.
    • Wait a few minutes for the pressure to dissipate.
    • Open the cover and stir in the ghee well.
    • Serve with medhu vada, chutney, and sambar on the side.
    • I serve with tomato chutney or ground nut chutney.

Method 2

    • In a pan, dry roast the moong dal until it emits an aroma and becomes a light golden color.
    • Soak the rice and dal in water for half an hour.
    • In a cooker, combine the soaked rice, salt, and moong dal; after 2 to 3 whistles on medium heat, reduce to a low heat and cook for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
    • Wait until the pressure has been released before mixing thoroughly.

Seasoning (thadka)

  • Now, in a kadai or pan, heat the oil and sauté the items listed above (except hing and ginger).
  • Sauté the hing (asafoetida) and ginger for a few seconds before adding them to the cooked pongal and mixing thoroughly.
  • Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • If preferred, pour additional ghee on top of the pongal after serving in a dish.
  • Serve with hot vadas and a chutney or sambar of your choice.

Notes

  • Cook the rice and dal according to the pressure cooker’s directions.
  • If you want to create pepper pongal, crush the pepper seeds instead of using whole peppers.
  • Water should be added according to the tenderness of your rice.
  • You may use 1 cup of rice and 1/2 cup of dal, or you can use equal amounts of rice and dal.

 

The pongal or kara pongal are a great way to end your month. Pongal is the staple festival for most of the south Indian states. It is a harvest festival that celebrates the end of the farming season and the start of the next farming season. The pongal festival is usually celebrated with lots of feasting, music and merrymaking.. Read more about ven pongal with milk and let us know what you think.