Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated among South Indians. It is observed as a thanksgiving to the Sun God for the good harvest season. It is celebrated by preparing a dish with rice and jaggery (unrefined whole cane sugar) and offered to the Sun God. It is a sweet dish which is so easy to prepare and is commonly known as Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal).
3/4 cup raw rice
1/2 cup moong dal (dehusked split beans)
3/4 - 1 cup powdered jaggery (adjust to suit your taste)
4 cups water
1 tsp cardamom powder
Few strands of saffron (soaked in hot milk)
4-5 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
Pinch of salt
Fry the moong dal until slightly golden brown and then soak the dal with raw rice for about an hour.
In a pressure cooker, add the rice and dal, water and a pinch of salt. Cook for about 3 whistles. Powder the jaggery finely and mix with the boiled rice till it reaches a watery consistency. Typically, when I add jaggery, I don't usually measure as I look for the color of the pongal. When I feel, its dark enough, I stop adding. Make sure you add just enough as you don't want it overly sweet.
Add the powdered cardamom and mix with the rice. Soak the saffron in hot milk for 2-3 minutes. Add the saffron to the rice and mix well. Now, add 4 tbsp ghee and stir the rice to blend well.
Cut the cashews into halves and fry in ghee until it turns golden brown (you can also add raisins, if you wish). Add to the rice and mix. Serve hot.
Makes 5-6 servings.