Chakara Pongal( Sweet Pongal)

In Tamil, the word Pongal means “overflowing” which signifies abundance and prosperity.
Chakara Pongal which made for Thai Pongal festival is a dish of sweet concoction of rice, moong dal, jaggery and milk.

Thai Pongal is celebrated on the first day of the month Thai of the Tamil calendar. The day normally falls between 12th and 15th of the month of January in the Christian calendar. Thus, Thai is the first month of the Tamil Almanac. This festival is celebrated by one and all as it is non-relevance to any particular religious faith. The whole Tamil population of the world celebrate it without any differences. Therefore it is widely known as “Tamil Thai Pongal” or the “Festival of the Tamils”.

The Tamil festival of Thai Pongal is a thanks giving ceremony in which the farmers celebrate the event to thank the spirits of nature spirit, the Sun and the farm animals for their assistance in providing a successful harvest. The rest of the people celebrate the festival to pay their thanks to the farmers for the production of food. Overall, it is a festival to encourage social cohesiveness and unite people by bringing them together in a common function.

On the day of Pongal, at the time of sun rise there is a symbolic ritual of boiling fresh milk in a new clay pots and when the milk boils over and bubbles out of the vessel, people shout “Pongalo Pongal!” They also say “Thai Pirandhal Vazhi Pirakkum” meaning “the commencement of Thai paves the way for new opportunities” is often quoted regarding the Pongal festival. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey the appreciation and thankfulness to the Sun God as it act as the primary energy behind agriculture and a good harvest. It is the Surya Mangalyam. Tamilians decorate their homes with banana and mango leaves and embellish the floor with decorative patterns drawn using rice flour and colour powder.

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Ingredients

Raw rice- 1 and 1/2 cups
Moong dal( paasi paruppu) -1/4th cup
Milk- 2 and 1/2 cups
Water- 2 and 1/2 cups
Grated jaggery- 1 and 1/2 cups
Water- 1/2 cup
Melted ghee- 3/4th cup
Chopped cashew nuts- 2 tbsps
Raisins- 1 tbsp
Grated coconut- 2 tbsps
Cardamom powder- 1/2 tsp

Method

Roast rice and dal till it becomes slightly golden.
Cool, wash, add 2 cups of milk and 2 and 1/2 cups water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.

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Heat jaggery and 1/2 cup of water in a pan. Once the jaggery melts, filter it remove dirt from the jaggery. Wash hrs pan and transfer the jaggery back to the pan. Cook till it starts boiling and becomes slightly thick.

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Take the rice from the cooker. Add 1/2 cup of milk and mash the rice slightly. Add the rice to the jaggery and mix well. Add half cup of ghee, mix well again and cook on a medium flame for 10- 12 mins.

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Heat the remaining ghee in a pan. Add chopped cashew nuts, raisins and grated coconut. Sauté till cashew nuts and coconut becomes golden. Add it to the pongal. Add 1/2 tsp of powdered jaggery and mix well. Take off the gas.

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Serve hot drizzled with little hot melted ghee:)
Happy happy Sankaranthi everyone:)

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