Wednesday 8 October 2014

Kalkandu Sarkarai Pongal (கல்கண்டு சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்)

‘Kalkandu sarkarai pongal’ (கல்கண்டு சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்) is a traditional sweet and is made with rock candy (கல்கண்டு) as the sweetener, as against jaggery (வெல்லம்) used for making ‘sarkarai pongal’ (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்). My grandfather was an expert in making this delicacy! Even my grandmother granted credit to him on this score! This sweet has a distinctly different taste due to the addition of rock candy. Usually ‘sarkarai pongal’ is made on 1st day of ‘Thai’ (தை), the tenth month of Tamil calendar, which marks the harvest festival (பொங்கல் திருநாள்). In some families, ‘Kalkandu sarkarai pongal’ is made instead of routine payasam on the second day of ‘Thai’ (கனு பண்டிகை) . Well, you need not wait for a festival to prepare this delicacy. Just give it a try!

Raw rice (பச்சரிசி) – ½ tumbler
Moong dhal – ½ teaspoon
Milk – 1½ tumblers
Rock candy (கல்கண்டு) – ¾ -1 tumbler (Adjust to taste)*
Ghee – ½ tumbler
Cardamom – 4 no
Clove – 1 no
Cashew nuts – 1 tablespoon
Raisins – 1 tablespoon

* You may also prepare this pongal with sugar, but it is preferable to use rock candy for best results. However, if desired use ½ tumbler sugar instead of rock candy.

Kalkandu Sarkarai Pongal (கல்கண்டு சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்)
Method: Wash rice and moong dhal well and pressure cook with 2 tumblers (400ml) of water for 5 minutes or 5 whistles. Once the pressure subsides, remove the rice and keep aside.

Remove cardamom seeds and powder them finely along with clove, using the mortar and pestle.
Boil milk in a thick bottomed vessel (உருளி) or kadai, add the rice and cook on low flame stirring on and off. Continue to cook till the milk and rice blend well into a uniform mass. Add rock candy and cook till it melts and mixes well with the rice. Now add ghee and spice powder and mix well. Simmer for 2 minutes and switch off the fire. 

Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a tadka pan or spice pan (தாளிக்கிற கரண்டி), add cashew nuts and raisins and fry till the nuts turn light brown in color. Switch off the stove. Add the fried ingredients to the pongal and mix well. Serve hot either as a dessert or as part of the feast menu.

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