On Jan 15 a Tamil festival will begin to celebrate the end of a harvest. This festival is called ‘Thai Pongal’. It falls on the 14 or 15 of the first month, depending on the year.
Though it a festival for farmers, Tamils around the world will mark the day by making what we called ‘pongal’ – sweet rice on the morning of Jan 15.
See the post I did in 2014 which explains the festival in a bit more detail.
I took the next two photos in 2010, when a few friends, auntys and uncles gathered early to cook the pongal in a clay pot and offer it to ‘Suriya’, the Sun god. Following tradition, we made pongal in the front of a community hall at first light.
In the 2nd photo, my friend Meena is adding rice to the pot. We each took turns to do this. Meena, is the inspiration behind the name for ‘My Tamil Kitchen’ and encouraged me to start it many years ago. A big thanks to her.
This year in prep for Thai Pongal, my ammah (green sari in above photo) and I made this dish a few days earlier. It’s my ammah’s recipe and is slightly different (sweeter and no lentils) to the one I posted in 2014.
Tradionally pongal is served on a banana leaf with a banana. As this dish is quite sweet, the banana is a great complimentary side kick.
1 cup red raw rice
250 grams jaggery
5 cups water
3 cardamom pods crushed
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup sultanas
200ml coconut milk
1 Tbl ghee
1. In a dish combine jaggery and coconut milk and set aside.
2. Heat ghee in a fry pan. When hot add the cashews and sultanas and roast till cashews start turning golden.
3. Combine red rice and water in a pot and bring to boil. When it starts boiling, reduce heat and cook till the rice is ready.
4. When rice is ready, don’t turn off stove. Add jaggery and coconut to the rice and stir till the jaggery is mixed in with the rice.
5. Add cashews, sultanas and cardamom to rice.
6. Serve hot with on a banana leaf with a banana.
It can also be eaten cold. So if you have any left over – put it in the fridge and gobble it down cold later. If it thickens while in the fridge, add a little bit of milk to it.