Sweet Pongal or Chakkara Pongal

The month of January begins with an expectation of getting one more long weekend, the Pongal festival that is. The thought of eating juicy sugar canes all through the day, tying mannja koththu and inji koththu around the brass pot, et al, shouting Pongalo-pongal when my mom prepares chakkarai pongal, decorating the house with palm festoons make me more nostalgic. Though we still celebrate the same way, childhood memories flash through my brain whenever I think of any festival.
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Serves 4
Key Ingredients
Raw rice – 1 cup (1 cup = 200ml)
Moong Dal – 1/4 cup (Dry Roasted in a tawa for 5 mins)
Powdered Jaggery 1 1/2 cup*
Ghee – 3-5 tbsps
Milk – 1 cup
Water 3 cups
Cardamom powder – 1 tbsp
Nutmeg powder 1/2 tsp
Edible camphor 1 pinch
Raisins – 2 tbsp
Broken Cashewnuts 2 tbsp* I always use paagu vellam ie. Dark brown jaggery. If you do not get dark brown jaggery, you can use the regular one but you may have to add more. Regular ones are called achchu vellam in Tamil.

1. Dissolve the powdered jaggery in half cup water, strain and keep aside
2. Pour the water and milk in a brass pot and wait till it gets boiled
3. As soon as it boils add the water and dry roasted moong dal. Stir the mixture occasionally till the rice and dal gets completely cooked
4. Now add the dissolved jaggery to the rice mixture and keep stirring. Simmer the stove as the sweet pongal may get burned.
5. Now add nutmeg powder, cardomom powder and edible camphor. Mix well and turn off the stove.
6. In a skillet, heat ghee and add the cashewnuts. When it turns light brown, add the raisins.
7. Add this to the cooked sweet pongal.

This method is used on the day of our pongal festival. If you are cooking on any other day then there is a shortcut.

Shortcut method
1. Pour water, rice and dry roasted moong dal in a cooker. Cook it as you cook rice.
2. In a thick bottomed tawa, add the jaggery solution, stir till it thickens and forms a half string. This will take 5 minutes when cooked in medium flame.
3. Once the jaggery thickens and forms half string, add the cooked ingredients and miz well.
4. Now add the powdered cardamom, nutmeg and edible camphor.
5. Heat ghee in a pan and fry the cashewnuts till it turns light brown and add raisins. Add it to the sweet pongal.

Serve it hot with urad appalam and a dash of ghee.

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