Sweet Pongal, a sweet dish introduced to me for the first time by a person who is as sweet as the dish itself, my Tamilian friend, Raji. She holds a special place in my heart.
Friends, have you ever felt connected with a person in an instant? Some people are just meant to be in our lives and hence the pathways of our lives get crossed so that we can form a bond, a connection that would remain in spite of moving away from the place where the friendship started. Yes, those who are meant to be in our lives do walk into it somehow, we just need to connect and make an everlasting friendship with them. There is always a lot to learn from each other.
I met Raji a couple of years back when I had shifted to a new residential colony in Delhi, and was on my way to the pre-nursery school to inquire about admission procedure for my son. I could see a gal, short in stature, with the same aged boy as my son, walking from the opposite end of the road. We saw each other and smiled, introduced each other and it happened that her son was going to the same pre-nursery school that I was walking to. She lived in one of the neighboring buildings, so our daily to and fro walks to drop our sons made us get to know each other more. Thus our friendship started and her house happened to be the most frequented or knocked at place during my stay in that colony. We went for our daily morning or evening walks, sometimes grocery shopping, sometimes mall shopping, sharing the new dishes cooked at our homes with each making extra portions for the other. I have always found a liveliness and enthusiasm in her and her bubbly laughter, infectious. We sure had our laughter moments; on reminiscing, now, as I think, of those moments we sure giggled like school girls. I had never made vegetable biryani or used beetroot in rice preparations, it was she who introduced me to some of the yummy recipes. One auspicious day she made the sweet pongal as prasad and got a bowl for me. I fell in love with that prasad, she made sure to add extra ghee to the bowl that she brought for me, yeah making me gain more calories (he he 🙂 ), but I would always finish the whole bowl at one go, it was the best, always has been the best Pongal that I got to eat. I have tried making this dish as prasad on couple of occasions over the years, but I would say hers was the best and I can never ever recreate that same very dish in my kitchen; her love is always missing in my pongal!
We moved countries from our Delhi days, kids have grown up, we kept in touch as and when, sometimes no contact for months to years, but every-time I am reminded of her, I instantly feel the warmth of the friendship and a sense of happiness. She has since then moved back to India and lives in Tamil Nadu, and now we are more in contact, more calls, and are there for each other at the buzz of the app, yeah Whatsapp!
It is a wonder how sometimes the small meet-ups, talks or chance encounters stay with us over the passage of time, always fresh as if they had occurred in the present day. I cherish these connections of mine, the individuals who have made an impact on me, whose simple and humble natures left an imprint that has remained fixed somewhere in the mind. I feel one needs to give time and make efforts to keep these warm relations the source of our daily happiness. I am thankful for few wonderful people who have crossed my path and are part of my life.
Now moving to making the Sweet Pongal. This is the way I make this dish in my kitchen, the recipe might not be the exact traditional way of cooking, but its my style of making Pongal. I generally like less sweet and hence I add less sugar or jaggery, hence do increase the quantity of these ingredients as per your taste.
Rice: 1/2 Katori
Water: 2-2 1/2 Katori
Jaggery: 70-100 gm (Use self discretion for the preferred sweetness and increase the quantity)
Cashewnut: 25 gm
Raisins: 25 gm
Freshly Grated Coconut: 2 Tbsp
Almond Slices: For Garnish
Green Cardamon powder: 1 Tsp.
Ghee: 2 Tbsp
Milk: 1/2 cup. (one could cook the rice in milk)
Wash and soak the rice in water for 10-15 min.
Pressure cook the rice adding double the amount of water in ratio to the rice. For half a katori of rice add 2 1/2 katoris. Cook to 3-4 whistle of the pressure cooker so that the rice is cooked soft.
Heat pan and mix the rice and milk, with continuously stirring this so that milk gets mixed and dries.
In a Kadai or pan heat the ghee, fry the cashews and raisins, taking care not to burn. The cashew nut should be lightly golden in colour. Keep them in plate.
Add the jaggery to the ghee in kadai, and with continuous stirring melt the jaggery, care should be taken that it should not burn. It should not be cooked for long or it would become thick and hard. Add the cooked rice and mix so the jaggery gets mixed evenly with the rice.
Add the fresh coconut and cardamom powder and mix. Then add the fried cashew nuts and raisins.
Remove in a serving bowl and garnish with sliced almonds.
This is the picture of the prasad that I made today. I used the jaggery that was little dark in color, and hence the darker color of the rice.
I made this prasad today on the occasion on Vijayadashmi/ Dussehra, a Hindu festival of India. My mother would always make another sweet called Basundi, my favorite on this special day of mine, which is made by evaporating milk. I made Basundi just a couple of days ago.
I enjoyed writing my thoughts about the dish Sweet Pongal Rice, and I am the only one in the house who loves eating this!!
Tomorrow is the weekend in this part of the world. You all too have an awesome weekend, friends.