Pongal

The coming of the harvest season, in the state of Tamil Nadu, is celebrated as a festival called Pongal. On this day, the primary dish served across the state also goes by the same name - Pongal! An incredibly versatile dish, Pongal can be had for breakfast, lunch or dinner and can also be made in sweet or savoury forms. It is an extremely simple dish to make and if you want, you can make variations of your own by adding elements that you prefer and creating your own little version of the dish.

This recipe is for the standard or basic version, simply called Pongal!

Ingredients required for Pongal

Here is a list of the ingredients you need to get started:

- Rice - 1 Cup
- Green Grams - 1/4 Cup
- Cumin Seeds - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Black Peppercorns - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Crushed Peppercorns - 1/2 Teaspoon
- Cashew Nuts - 5 to 10
- Desiccated Coconut - 1/2 Cup
- Turmeric Powder - a Pinch
- Clarified Butter

Preparing the Ingredients for cooking

Pongal is an extremely simple dish that requires very little preparation. However, if you are making your own variation of the dish or are making a sweet version or a different kind of savoury version, you might need to do a few more things in terms of preparing the dish. For the basic version of Pongal, there isn't really any preparation required and you can get right into the cooking process from the word go.

Let's start cooking our Pongal

Since Pongal is a dish that contains rice as well as green grams, you might need to use something like a pressure cooker to cook them at the same time. Not only does the pressure cooker save you time, it also ensures that you don't need to stand there watching the pot boil when you can just keep an ear out for the whistle.

- Start by adding some oil to a pressure cooker and add the uncooked rice and green grams to it
- Fry them around for about 30-seconds to a minute and, then, add about 3 cups of water to it
- Add the turmeric powder, the desiccated coconut and a couple of tablespoons of clarified butter to the pressure cooker and close the lid
- After about four-whistles from the pressure cooker, take it off the gas and allow it to cool
- After the pressure cooker has cooled down and you can take the lid off, take a deep pan or wok and add clarified butter to it with a tiny bit of oil
- Add the cumin seeds, black peppercorns and cashew nuts (after coarsely crushing them) to the pan
- Once the colour of the cashew nuts starts changing, add the contents of the pressure cooker into the pan and stir well to mix everything
- Finish off by seasoning it with salt and pepper, and drizzle a bit of clarified butter over the top for a nice, glazed look
- When your rice is a little runny and overcooked, you know your Pongal is ready to be served

There are so many elements of Pongal that you can play around with and make your own little flavour. Milk is one of the key ingredients that goes into making sweet Pongal while Jaggery, sugar and saffron are also common elements that make up this wonderful, multi-dimensional dish. Quick and easy to make, have it to mark the special occasion of Pongal or just make it as an every-day breakfast meal.

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