Coming to a South Indian home for a festival, there is one thing you will look forward to – pongal or payasam for dessert. This is the go-to dessert for every festival. Depending on the region you will encounter various flavours of payasam (kheer) or pongal.
Pongal for all times
Pongal is a slow-cooked soft preparation either sweetened by jaggery or equivalent or made savoury by the addition of salt and tempering. It is not only at the harvest festival you see pongal. We make savoury pongal for breakfast, sweet pongal for birthdays, auspicious days, cravings and whatever you can think of. Pongal us also when amma doesn’t want to do much but put a meal on the table quickly. Really, pongal is all that and lots more love.
New flavours to try.
Once we left off using white sugar, we turned out attention to natural sweetness. We explored mango sweetened pongal, jackfruit sweetened one(yum it is) and now trying out sugarcane.
Sugarcane juice is the starting form of the refined sugar we conveniently dump in. In fact, using sugarcane actually made me realize perhaps this was how sweet pongal was originally meant to be. Slow cooker aroma of sugarcane juice infused with cardamom was ambrosial.
Getting on with a busy day
Eighty per cent of the Indian festivals this year will come on the days we are working. Of course, this means, I will be doing samplers and rushing off to work. Getting on as a working mum, I do have some tricks up my sleeve too. Pongal is that wonderful recipe I often rely on to make these festival days perfect. Now pongal with rice, takes a wee bit longer than my instant go-to, beaten rice flakes. Cooking with aval (rice flakes) is as quick as add, stir and done. I am surely going to use that shortcut in this recipe for sure.
Every Krishna Jayanthi, we make a thali full of treats for little Krishna with the beaten rice flakes. This includes both sweet and savory recipes. Over a period of time, I have found that these recipes, together with take less than an hour to put together. I do make the ladoo ahead of time on the weekend and keep ready.
Here is the collection, so you can try.
If you are planning to make a sadhya (banana leaf meal) for the festivals, here is my guide to a make it faster.
Enjoy the festival season, stay safe with your loved ones. Tag us with your festival creation on Instagram and Facebook.
Karimbu chaaru aval pongal
to cook for the pongal
- 1/4 cup Moong dal
- 1 cup Water ( you can use milk for added richness)
- 1/2 cup rice flakes
- 3 cups sugarcane juice
for the topping
- 1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter ( use coconut oil for a vegan version)
- 1 tsp coconut shavings
- 1 tsp almonds silvered
- 1/2 tsp green cardamom
- Pressure cook the moong dal with water to a soft texture.
- Once the pressure releases, add the aval and the sugar cane juice and bring the mixture to a slow boil.
- As the sugar cane juice cooks, it infuses the fragrance and the sweetness to the porridge.
- Slow simmer and keep mixing till the mixture thickens
- In a separate pan add the ghee and bring it to low heat, add the coconut shavings and slivered almonds and let the roast till golden.
- Pour this mix into the porridge which is cooking, add cardamom and let it thicken till a spoonable consistency is reached. It takes about 6-8 minutes.
- The pongal is then ready to serve