Chakkarai Pongal or Sakkarai Pongal Recipe – Updated to include Vengala Paanai Method


Yields: 1 cup
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Pressure Cooking time for Rice and Dal: 2 whistles
Preparation Time in Pongal Paanai or Vengala Paanai: Close to 1 hour

INGREDIENTS
Raw Rice – 1/2 cup
Split Green Gram/Moong Dal/Paasi Paruppu – 3 tbsp
Jaggery – 3/4 to 1 cup (depends on sweetness desired)
Water (to cook rice and dal) – 1-1.5 cup (Depends on the usual ratio of Water:Rice that you usually use)
Water (to dissolve jaggery) – a little lesser than 1/4 cup
Milk – 1 cup
Cardamom Powder/Elaichi Powder – 1/2 tsp
Saffron Strings – a pinch
Ghee – 3 tbsp
Garnish
Cashew Nuts – 5 to 6 nos
Raisins/Kishmish – 8 to 9 nos
Ghee (for frying cashew nuts)- 1 tsp

Special Items
If using Pongal Paanai or Vengala Paanai, you can cook in that. Else, you can use the pressure cooker method.

PROCEDURE

Pongal Paanai or Vengala Paanai or Vengala Chatti Method:

  1. Wash the rice and dal together.
  2. Pour the water and milk into the paanai (vessel) and keep in low heat.
  3. Stir in the rice and dal.
  4. Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes in low heat until the rice and dal are well cooked, stirring frequently and adding more water if necessary, taking care that the milk doesn’t spill over by reducing the heat everytime it bubbles up.
    (Note: On pongal day, people usually gather around near the paanai when it is cooking, and when the milk starts to boil over, they allow it to slightly spill over, and they keep chanting “Pongalo Pongal”. So you can also do that during Pongal.)
  5. Once the rice and dal are cooked and mashed, stir the jaggery.
  6. Keep stirring and take care that it does not burn at the bottom.
  7. Stir in the saffron strings and cardamom powder.
  8. Once almost all the water has been evaporated, add the ghee and stir.
  9. Take it off of heat.
    (Consistency Checkpoint: The rice and dal and jaggery should all stick to each other well with no stray water remaining and the pongal should be able to hold its form, that is, it does not break or crumble down in the serving plate/dish.)

Pressure Cooker Method:

  1. Wash the rice and dal together in a vessel.
  2. Pressure cook the rice and dal together with the milk and water for about 2 whistles (or as long as it takes to cook the rice and dal).
  3. In another vessel, heat the jaggery with water to completely dissolve the jaggery and strain, if necessary and get to almost one string consistency.
  4. Mix in the cooked rice and dal.
  5. Add the cardamom powder and saffron strings and mix well.
  6. Mix in the ghee once the pongal seems to not stick to the base of the vessel.
  7. Take it off of heat.
    (Consistency Checkpoint: The rice and dal and jaggery should all stick to each other well with no stray water remaining and the pongal should be able to hold its form, that is, it does not break or crumble down in the serving plate/dish.)

Garnish

  1. In a smaller pan, fry the cashew nuts in ghee until they turn a light golden color, and pour over the pongal along with raisins as garnish.
  2. Serve.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS

  1. Mix in the garnish with the pongal just before serving.
  2. A creative way to serve like they do in restaurants (in this way, do not garnish the pongal yet):
    – Fill a small bowl (about 1/3 or 1/2 cup or desired quantity) with the pongal (which is not garnished yet) such that it holds the pongal tightly.
    – Invert the cup over a serving plate. The pongal should hold its shape and not break or crumble.
    – Pour some ghee (about 1 tsp) over the mound of pongal and let drizzle a little ghee at the base of the mound.
    – Place a few strands of saffron on the top, at the center of the mound.
    – Pour about 3 to 4 cashew nuts (fried in ghee) along with 3 to 4 raisins on top of the saffron strings.

TIPS

  1. You can also use grated jaggery and simply add that to the rice and dal mixture and the water in the rice mixture would dissolve the jaggery.
  2. Instead of mixing in the saffron strings, you can also put them as a garnish on the top.
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