Thursday 15 January 2015

Sarkarai Pongal (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்)

‘Sarkarai pongal’ (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்), a traditional sweet, is made with jaggery (வெல்லம்) and newly harvested raw rice. Usually ‘sarkarai pongal’ is made on the first day of ‘Thai’ (தை), the tenth month of Tamil calendar, which marks the harvest festival (பொங்கல் திருநாள்). In some families, ‘sarkarai pongal’ is made on other festival days such as ‘Varalakshmi viratham’ (வரலக்ஷ்மி நோன்பு) or ‘navarathri’ (நவராத்திரி). I am happy to share the traditional recipe with you on this sankaranthi day!

Newly harvested raw rice (புதுப் பச்சரிசி) – 1 tumbler or 200ml measure
Moong dhal – ¼ tumblers or 50ml measure
Milk – 1½ tumblers or 300ml measure
Jaggery – 1½ - 2 tumblers (Adjust to taste)*
Ghee – 1 large hollow ladle or 75ml measure
Cardamom – 4no
Camphor laurel (பச்சை கற்பூரம்) – a pinch (optional)
Coconut – grated, 2 tablespoons
Cashew nuts – 2 tablespoons
Raisins – 2 tablespoons

* Sweetness of jaggery may vary and hence, adjust its quantity based on the sweetness and your own personal preferences.

Sarkarai Pongal (சர்க்கரை பொங்கல்)
Method: Wash rice and moong dhal well and pressure cook with 3 tumblers (600ml) of water for 10 minutes. Once the pressure subsides, remove the rice and keep aside.

Remove cardamom seeds and powder them finely, using the mortar and pestle. Powder the jaggery and keep aside.

Boil milk in a thick bottomed vessel (உருளி) or kadai, add the rice and 2 teaspoons of ghee. Cook on low flame stirring on and off. Continue to cook till the milk and rice blend well into a uniform mass. Add jaggery; cook till it melts and mixes well with the rice. Add the remaining ghee and blend well. Now, add cardamom powder and crushed camphor laurel. 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. Now, add the grated coconut and switch off the stove. Add the fried ingredients to the pongal and mix well. Traditional sarkarai pongal is ready !

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