By Upagupt Mohanty
It was mid January and I was reminded of my good friend Venkat from Icchapur. I often used to visit him and witness the craze over Pongal in his house. That day, the king of romance-his dad, Raman uncle said with a grin to his queen “Radhika, last year the rice pudding you made was amazing but how about you raise the bar by making it exceptional”. Radhika aunty serving hot filter coffee to her husband in a typical south Indian steel glass, answered wittingly with a wink “Exceptional like you? Yet, if the Lord of the house desires, it shall be done”, she continued and walked into the kitchen. Radhika aunty’s phone started ringing, Venkat quickly checked and yelled “Mom, it is Jyotika, (Venkat’s sister who lived in Dubai) please take the call”. Uncle Raman said “Master Chef is occupied”. Venkat and me rolled with laughter catching up with the live romance between his parents. Radhika aunty then ran out of the kitchen for a quick chat with her daughter. After a short conversation with her parents, Jyotika spoke to Venkat “Bro, I badly miss you guys especially the funny romance between dad and mom and the familiar aroma of mom’s special food”. These sweet and small family episodes sprinkle more colours to the Pongal celebration. In Tamil, the word Pongal signifies ‘overflowing’ and in Telugu ‘Pongu’ means to ‘boil over or spill over’ connoting abundance and prosperity. Radhika aunty cleaned their traditional bronze pot till she could see her reflection on it. Then, she tied a young turmeric plant around the neck of the sparkling pot. She then, poured milk into the pot to boil. The milk which was set to boil, was going to overflow when Master Chef summoned us. I watched the King, his Queen and the prince harmoniously chanting ‘Pongalo Pongal’ with the blowing of the conch. Then with heartwarming smile, stirring the boiled milk, aunty added rice, dal and water to the making of the glorious treat – the Chakkara Pongal. Once the delicacy Chakarra Pongal was prepared, the item was first set on a banana leaf to offer gratitude to Mother Nature, the sun and to the farmers. The Chakkara Pongal simply tasted out of the world as the Master Chef of the family had put extra additives-affection and devotion. Chakkara Pongal has a sweet taste but there are other variations of Pongal such as Venn/khara Pongal(rice, moong daal, salt, pepper and cumin), Melagu Pongal (pepper, rice and moong daal) and Puli Pongal (tamarind and boiled rice). Any celebration is incomplete without food and so is Pongal – the auspicious harvest celebration. Here, Coffee Bytes team wishes a Happy and Prosperous Pongal to the South Indian community in Odisha!
Now Let us have a look at the magical recipe of Radhika aunty.
Ingredients for (5-6 serves):
• Rice – 1 cup
• Moong Dal – ¼ cup
• Water – 1 ½ cup
• Milk – 3cups
• Cardamom – 6 pcs (crushed)
• Ghee – 4 tablespoon
• Cashew – 12 pcs
• Raisin – 12 pcs
• Jaggery – ½ cup grated
A pinch of edible camphor/ fresh grated nutmeg can be added to enhance taste (optional).
Preparation (in pressure cooker for saving time):
• Roast the moong dal for 2-3 minutes.
• Boil the milk in pressure cooker without lid.
• Add rice and roasted dal along with little amount of water to boiled milk and close the lid of the cooker
till 4-5 whistles on medium flame for rice to become soft.
• Add ¼ cup water to jaggery in another pan, boil in low flame. Make sure jaggery is dissolved but doesn’t
• Mash up the boiled rice and dal mixture for a thick consistency.
• In a separate pan add two tablespoon of ghee to roast cashews and raisins. Add few pieces of roasted dry
fruits to liquefied jaggery and save the rest for garnishing.
• Add rice and dal mashed mixture to the mix of liquefied jaggery and roasted dry fruits with a sprinkle of
cardamom powder by stirring continuously on low flame for 5-6 minutes.
• Take out the contents from thick bottom pan and garnish it with remaining cashews and raisins.
To enhance its flavour further, top it up with ghee. Chakkara Pongal is ready and served hot.