Pongal (or Thai Pongal) is celebrated as the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. Pongal is enthusiastically celebrated by farmers with their farm produce harvested this season. The word Pongal in Tamil means ‘to boil over’. Here are the recipes that are traditionally prepared during this festival.
Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal):Cooking Time : 30 minutes.
Raw rice – 1cup (175 grams.)
Green gram dhal – 50 grams
Brown (unrefined) sugar – 300 grams
Milk – 1 cup
Ghee (Clarified Butter) – 2 table spoons
Cardamom – 4 nos
Cashew and raisin – 20 grams
Grated Coconut – ½ cup
Cook the rice and dhal together adding 3cups of water and one cup of milk in a cooker, and mash it well. In a heavy-bottomed vessel add ¼ cup water and the brown sugar and keep it on a low flame. When the brown sugar melts completely, strain and remove any impurities etc. Add the mashed rice and dhal mixture to the brown sugar syrup stirring slowly. Then add grated coconut and crushed cardamom. Heat another vessel with ghee. Fry the cashew first and then add the raisin. Add this fried cashew, raisin and rest of the ghee to the above mixture.
Tips: Brown sugar and ghee can be either increased or reduced as required.
Ven Pongal (Also a breakfast item): Cooking Time : 30 minutes
Raw rice (1cup) – 175 grams
Green gram dhal – 75 grams
Ginger – 1/4 inch piece
Cumin seed (jeera) – ½ teaspoon
Black pepper – ½ teaspoon
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Ghee – 2 tablespoons
Cashew – 10 grams
Add three cups of water and cook rice and dhal together till done, adding ½ teaspoon salt. Pour ghee in a pan and add finely chopped ginger and then the cumin seeds, pepper and curry leaves with cashew nuts. Then add the mashed rice, dhal mixture to this and stir for a few minutes on a low flame. Enjoy your delicious Pongal!
Payasam is usually the last item served in a traditional South Indian meal, as dessert. Many varieties of payasams are made using different ingredients like broken wheat, rice (basmati) sago, and pulses like green gram dhal etc. This recipe uses vermicelli (semiya) as the main ingredient. Vermicelli in India is made from semolina and isknown as seviyan in Hindi and as semiya in Tamil.Semiya payasam is also known as kheer in North India.
Cooking Time: 15 minutes Servings: 3
Milk: 500 ml
Refined sugar: 100 grams or ½ cup
Vermicelli (Semiya):1 cup or 40 grams
Cashew nuts: 10
Ghee (clarified butter) 1teaspoon
Grated coconut: 2 tablespoon
Method: Adding one teaspoon ghee (clarified butter) roast the cashew and raisin and set aside. If vermicelli is not roasted, you will have to roast it lightly in the remaining ghee. Allow the milk to boil on high heat in a thick bottomed vessel. When it starts to boil, stir it for 5 minutes. Reducing the heat to medium add the roasted vermicelli and let it cook for another 5 minutes. Add the sugar, cardamom powder, grated coconut and cook for a couple of minutes. Garnish with raisins and cashew nut and serve hot.
Adhirasam or Athirasam is a typical, traditional Tamilnadu sweet item that is usually made during festivals. Jaggery is a main ingredient used here, instead of cane sugar. Adhirasam is popular mainly in the Southern districts of Tamilnadu and also in the Chettinad area.
Cooking Time: 2 hours (over 2 days).
No of pieces: 20
Raw rice: 500 grams (3 cups)
2. Powdered Jaggery (unrefined sugar): 400 grams ( 3 cups)
3. Cardamom: 8
4. Water (for making syrup): 3/4 cup
5. Ghee (Clarified butter): 75 grams
6. Oil (preferably sunflower): 750 ml
Soak raw rice in water for an hour. Drain water and using a blender, make into smooth fine flour. You will get nearly 6 cups of rice flour. Powder the cardamom and add to the flour. For 2 cups raw rice flour use one cup powdered jaggery to make syrup.
Take 3/4 cup water in a pan, add the jaggery and simmer over medium heat till it becomes syrup. Strain the syrup to remove large particles and let simmer again over low heat. You must get the syrup flavor and a “one thread” consistency. Pour a drop or two in a cup of water. If the syrup settles down into a ball at the bottom of the cup of water without disintegrating, you have reached the desired consistency. Remove from stove and add the wet rice flour with the ghee. Mix the flour and the syrup well and set aside for 1 – 3 days, covering the mouth of the container with a thin cloth.
Heat oil in a deep-fry pan over medium flame. Apply some oil on a strip of banana leaf. Make balls of the mixture from the previous step and press them into round adhirasams on the leaf and gently drop them into the hot oil. Use a “poondhi” (boondhi) ladle to remove the adhirasam when they are fried to a deep golden brown. To remove excess oil use a thick flat ladle to press down the athirasam and squeeze the oil out.
Tips: Adhirasams can be stored for up to a month in airtight containers. The rice flour should not become dry when it is added to the jaggery syrup. You will get about 20 adhirasams for half kg rice.
Paniyaram is a quick-to-make snack eaten during tea time and at special occasions. It is easy to make in a few minutes when unexpected guests or hungry kids need to be served.
Cooking Time: 15 minutes.
Servings : 2
Refined wheat flour (Maida) – 1 cup or 100grams
Egg – 1
Refined sugar – 50 grams
Banana (ripe) – 1
Soda bi-carb (cooking soda) – A pinch
Oil – In a pan for deep frying.
Sift the flour and cooking soda in a sieve. Beat the egg with sugar till sugar dissolves. Mix the flour and egg-sugar mixture with the mashed banana, adding enough water to make a thick batter. Heat the oil in a deep fryer. Take a spoonful of this batter and drop gently into the hot oil. 5,6 pieces can be fried together. Cook till they are fluffy and evenly cooked to a golden brown color. Drain the excess oil and serve.
Tip: Use medium heat for frying as the inside of the paniyarams should be cooked thoroughly.
Murukku (or Muruku) is a crispy type of fried snack that originated in Tamil Nadu, and spread to the rest of the Indian subcontinent.
Murukku is known as Chakli in Maharashtra and Chakri in Gujarat. Murukku is prepared during all auspicious events and gathering of friends and family. Being a traditional item, it is easily available all in snack shops over the state, and also in other parts of India. It is eaten and relished by both young and old. The basic ingredient is rice.
Soak one kg. raw rice in water for an hour and drain the water. Grind the softened rice in a blender, run it through a sieve and set aside 10 cups of fine rice flour. Roast the urad dhal in a dry frying pan till light brown in colour. Grind to a fine powder in the blender. Sieve and set aside 2 cups of fine urad dhal flour. Dissolve the Asafoetida powder in water.
Mix the rice and dhal flour together along with salt, sesame seeds, cumin seeds, butter and and the water with asafoetida, till you have a smooth dough with no lumps. Heat the oil in a frying pan over high. Take a small ball of dough and in the murukku maker. Squeeze, moving the murukku maker in a circular to make small murukkus. Make 5 or 6 of these directly onto a wet cloth or in plate that won’t stick.Carefully drop the murukus one at a time into the hot oil. Turn them over until both sides turn a golden brown in color. Remove and drain the excess oil and store the murukkus in airtight containers.
Optional: You can use coconut milk instead of water for kneading the flour into dough.