- Milk - 1Litre (3% Milk Fat)
- Cream – 200gms (25Milk Fat Low Fat Cream)
- Rice from New Harvest – 25gms (5tsps)
- Grated Jaggery – 90gms (5Tbsps)
- Cardamoms – 5
Make powder of cardamoms in a mortar & pestle. To retain the aroma of the cardamom powder keep it covered.
Here I want to present the Pongali in a clay pot with some decoration. Watch the movie clip to see how we can decorate the clay pot. Use your imaginations and decorate the clay pot.
Use a heavy bottomed pan to make the Pongali. Add milk and cream to the pan and cook on medium flame till the milk reaches a boil. Then add rice and cook stirring. Occasionally scrape the sides of the pan with a ladle to remove the reduced milk sticking to the sides of the pan. Once the milk is one-fourth reduced, cook on low flame only. Keep stirring the mixture as the rice may get burnt at the bottom of the pan. Cook the milk mixture stirring till the rice is fully cooked. Take few grains of cooked rice between fingers & press to check whether rice is fully cooked or not. When rice is fully cooked, cook the milk mixture till slightly thick. Do not reduce the milk too much as the mixture thickens on cooling. Switch off the flame & add grated jaggery. Jaggery melts with the heat of the milk mixture. Stir till the jaggery is melted. Once jaggery is melted the milk mixture becomes slightly thin. But do not cook the mixture further to thicken the milk mixture. On cooling the Pongali thickens. While the Pongali is still warm add cardamom powder and mix well. Transfer the tasty Pongali to the prepared clay pot and serve.
Points to Remember:
Avoid cream when using full cream milk.
Use new rice (rice from new harvest) for better results. Rice from new harvest has natural sweetness. The measurements given here will be sufficient when using rice from new harvest. When using preserved rice (Old Rice) then increase the milk quantity to get desired consistency.
Make powder of cardamoms just before adding to the Pongali to retain the fresh aroma.
Use a heavy bottomed pan as the milk & rice may get burnt at the bottom of the pan.
If cream is not available add some ghee (around 1 tsp) just before mixing cardamom powder.
Rice takes longer time to get cooked in milk. Alternatively cook rice with water till done and then add the cooked rice to the reducing milk mixture. But taste and texture differs.
Switch off the pan while the milk mixture is just slightly thick. On cooling the milk mixture thickens further. Adding jaggery to the slightly thick milk mixture makes the Pongali slightly thin. But do not cook to thicken the milk mixture—on cooling it thickens.
A dash of edible camphor really adds to the traditional touch. (Be careful to put just a small amount of edible camphor. Any excess would have a pungent smell and spoils the dish). Please remember, the camphor generally used for "Arati" is not edible. Edible camphor is sold seperately and is slightly costly too.
Pongali is symbolic to the agrarian culture and wealth. Sankranti is a harvest festival. After harvesting and bringing home the produce from the fields, farmers celebrate this festival by preparing Pongali. It is prepared with ingredients at the farmers command. Rice comes from his fields, Fresh Milk comes from his cattle wealth, edible camphor is an anti-fungal agent kept in stock for his day to day use while Jaggery is cooked in his fields from the sugar-cane juice extracted from the sugarcane grown on his fields.
For viewers not bestowed with the agrarian wealth at home a few short-cuts are needed. Sometimes it's difficult to get fresh full cream milk for which we add cream towards the shortening in the packaged milk. Similarly it may be difficult to get rice from new harvest, which one can compromise with available rice stock at home. Instead of camphor, we put cardamon. Nevertheless, the spirit with which we celebrate is more important.
If you want to taste a real Pongali, visit a farmer in your village !!!!
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Makar Sankranti is a major harvest festival celebrated in various parts of India. According to the lunar calendar, when the sun moves from the Tropic of Capricorn to the Tropic of Cancer or from Dakshinayana to Uttarayana, in the month of Pausha in mid-January, it commemorates the beginning of the harvest season and cessation of the northeast monsoon in South India. The movement of the Sun from one zodiac sign into another is called Sankranti and as the Sun moves into the Capricorn zodiac known as Makar in Hindi, this occasion is named as Makar Sankranti in the Indian context. It is one of the few Hindu Indian festivals which are celebrated on a fixed date i.e. 14 January every year (or may be sometimes on 15 January (leap year)). As it is the festival of Sun God and he is regarded as the symbol divinity and wisdom, the festival also holds an eternal meaning to it.
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