Rice is at the heart of Pongal celebrations in Tamil kitchens. Sweet or chakkara pongal is prepared for this special occasion and is believed to be a marker of prosperity. Traditionally, it is cooked in an open, brand new vessel. The preparation process is considered to be auspicious. In hectic city living, however, convenience trumps anything that’s time consuming. Traditionalists might frown upon using a pressure cooker to make pongal, but there is absolutely no harm in giving it a try. Here’s a recipe for aromatic and warm sweet pongal, prepared in a pressure cooker for Makar Sankranti, by chef Roopa Nabar of TTK Prestige.
Serves: 4 - 5
1 cup rice, washed and soaked
One-fourth cup moong dal, washed and soaked
1 cup jaggery
1 tsp cardamom powder
6 tablespoons ghee
12 cashew nuts
1 tablespoon raisins
1 cup water
1. Take a pressure cooker, add 3 tablespoons ghee, add drained rice and dal, and sauté for 1 minute. Then pour in 3 cups water, put the lid and pressure cook on high flame till one whistle. The reduce the flame to low and simmer for 8 minutes. Turn off the flame and wait for the pressure to drop.
2. Meanwhile, take a kadai and add jaggery, one cup water and cook on high flame for 2 minutes, till jaggery dissolves completely. Strain it.
3. Put the cooker, containing the cooked rice and dal, on low flame and mix in the strained jaggery syrup.
4. Place another kadai on medium heat. Add remaining ghee, cashew nuts and raisins, and saute for one minute. Then mix these into the the cooker with the rice and daal.
5. Sprinkle cardamom powder and give it another mix. The pongal should have a consistency thicker than kheer.
6. Put off the flame, let it cool a bit and serve warm.