Pongal- The Festival and The Sweet…

I have so far only blogged about baking and this is officially my first non-bake(?) post. This post is very special to me because I am writing this on request from a very dear friend of mine. You might know her as “The Inconsistent Chef” or as just Shyma Mathai. No matter how you know her, I’m sure if you have ever interacted with her, you would know that she has a huge heart and will go out of her way to help you, encourage you and be happy with each successful step you take. She wields magic at her fingertips and enthrals us with her wonderful blog The Wind Beneath My Wings . Do hop on to her blog for some amazing recipes. We met each other on Fondbites Bake Along group- one more thing I’m grateful to Subhashini & the group for, apart from all the knowledge I’m gathering over there. Even before Shyma chechi knew me, she used to comment and appreciate my photography & bakes that I used to post in the group. Not only mine, she takes time to encourage or appreciate all the bakers there, be it with a comment or a like. And I was in love with all her photos, bakes and her blog. This mutual appreciation brought us together and we became really good friends. Thank you chechi for being a good friend and a sister, and for just being who you are. And thank you for giving me this opportunity to write for you 🙂

Moving onto the post.. January is a festive month all over India. It marks the beginning of our Harvest season and is celebrated everywhere in our country under different names. In North India it’s primarily called “Makar Sankranthi”, though the name might change in a few states. Down South, it’s celebrated as Pongal in Tamil Nadu, Makara Sankranthi in Andhra Pradesh and Suggi in Karnataka. To my knowledge Kerala doesn’t have any special festival in the month of Jan, they do however celebrate Onam somewhere in the month of August as their Harvest festival. I am married into a Tamilian family and my in-laws celebrate Pongal with great fervor.
Pongal is celebrated on the 1st day of the 10thTamil month known as “Thai” [pronounciation- “th” as in “THink” and “ai” as in the letter “i”, not Thai as in Thailand 😛 ] and marks the beginning of the Harvest season. So the festival holds more significance to farmers. It is usually celebrated for 4 days. The first day is celebrated as Bhogi where people burn their old and unwanted stuff, signifying purification of evil and cleansing their house. The 2nd day is the main Pongal day also known as Surya Pongal or Thai Pongal, where people worship the Sun God for blessing them with a bountiful harvest. 3rd Day is Maatu Pongal– Cows and other cattle are decorated and worshipped. The 4th and final day is Kaanum Pongal– where everyone goes out with their Family for sight-seeing or to carnivals, just to spend time with family.

Thai Pongal is one of the most important festivals for Tamilians. They celebrate it by getting together with family, wearing new clothes, jewelry and by having meals together. And what good is a celebration without food? Ven Pongal and Sakkarai Pongal are made in each and every Tamil household on this day. Ven Pongal is the savory version made with dal, pepper and rice whereas; Sakkarai or sweet Pongal is made from dal, rice and Jaggery. Today I’m going to share the recipe for Sweet Pongal which has worked for me every time in the past. My husband absolutely loves this sweet pongal. So here goes the recipe.

Sakkarai / Sweet Pongal:

Recipe adapted from Chandra Padmanabhan
Serves- 4-6


Green Gram/ Moong Dal/ Paasi Paruppu – 1/2 cup

Uncooked Raw Rice- 1 Cup
Powdered Jaggery- 2 cups
Ghee- 5 Tblsp
Cashew Nuts – 10, broken
Raisins- 2 Tblsp
5 Cardamom+ 2 clove Powdered
A Pinch of Edible Camphor
A Pinch of Saffron Strands


Dry Roast Moong Dal in a Pressure Pan/Cooker for a couple of minutes.
Add washed rice + 3 & a Half Cups of water and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.

Meanwhile take the jaggery in a pan, and add just enough water to immerse it and dissolve the jaggery. Let cool and strain to remove impurities. I used home-made jaggery which has ground badam and other nuts in it, which my Dad got from one of his colleagues in Delhi. So I didn’t strain it.

Once the pressure is released in the cooker, open and mash the rice and dal together.

Keep it back on the stove in low flame and add the jaggery syrup, powdered cardamom+clove, saffron strands and the edible camphor to the mashed rice+dal and stir well. If you find the mix gettting dry, add ghee or if its too dry, add water or milk. Keep stirring and cook for about 5 mins or until u get the right consistency.

In a separate pan, add ghee and fry the cashews and raisins. Add this along with the saffron strands to the pongal and mix well.

Serve hot.

Do try this recipe ANY day you are craving for something sweet. Wishing everyone a Very Happy Pongal. Thank you Shyma chechi once again for giving me this opportunity 🙂

3 thoughts on “Pongal- The Festival and The Sweet…”

  1. Thank you so much for the tag and for this meaningful post! Despite giving it to you at such short notice and in the midst of your festivities, you've come up with such a detailed post for which I am indeed grateful! Thank you for setting aside this space on your blog and time for doing this guest post for me and my page! Grateful Deep!

  2. I am the one who is grateful to you for giving me this opportunity and the push to blog more chechi. Thank you so much for that 🙂 and for ur kind words, as always 🙂

  3. Hi
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