A taste of the harvest

Use of pudu paccha arisi is also considered very auspicious during Pongal because it’s a symbolic celebration of nature and its harvest.
A taste of the harvest

CHENNAI: Millets, sugarcane juice and turmeric take centre stage this Pongal, as kitchens across households in the city opt to give a healthy twist to the traditional sakkarai pongal, ven pongal and other accompaniements. Roshne Balasubramanian and Vaishali Vijaykumar give you...

Sugar cane juice pongal by Shanthi Ramachandran

(Instagram @shaanthram)

Rice: 1 cup (150 g)  Moong dal: 1 tbsp  Sugarcane juice: 2 cups (You can prepare using the stalk at home or use store-bought juice)  Jaggery/palm sugar/kalkandu: ½ cup or required  Ghee: 100 g or required amount  Cashew, raisins, coconut pieces for garnishing

Take a pan. Add some ghee and roast the moong dal. Keep it aside. Take the rice in a strainer and wash it. Roast it in ghee for a minute in the pan.
Add the sugarcane juice, one cup of milk, one cup of water and pressure-cook it on medium flame for about five to six whistles (without keeping the inner vessel) until the rice turns soft. 
Now, add half a cup of powdered jaggery/palm jaggery or natural brown sugar or karuppatti as per your preference.
The pongal will melt but will start to thicken after cooking for a few minutes. Add two tablespoons of fresh ghee and ensure that the pongal doesn’t stick to the bottom of the vessel. 
In another pan, add small pieces of coconut, cashews and fry it in ghee and add to the pongal.
Crush a few cardamoms and add it with the skin. Mix well and serve.

You can use any millet instead of rice.
While saffron is not added in traditional south Indian pongal, if you wish, you can add it along with a very small pinch of edible camphor.

For pongal, pudu paccha arisi is recommended because it gives a lovely fresh fragrance and turns soft quickly. It is also much cheaper than regular rice variants. Use of pudu paccha arisi is also considered very auspicious during Pongal because it’s a symbolic celebration of nature and its harvest.

Puli Pongal by Jeyashri Suresh 

(Instagram @Jeyashris Kitchen)

Broken rice/arisi kurunai: 1 cup  Tamarind a lemon sized  Sesame oil: 2 tbsp + 2 tsp  Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp  Peanuts: 2 tbsp  Chana dal: 1 tsp  Urad dal: 1 tsp  Green chilli: 1  Dried red chilli: 2  Water: 3 1/2 cups Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp  Asafoetida: a generous pinch  Curry leaves: few  Salt as needed

Soak a small lemon-sized tamarind in 1/2 cup hot water for 10 minutes. Extract tamarind juice using 1 cup of water. 
In a pressure pan or cooker, add two tablespoons sesame oil. Add the 1/4 tsp mustard seeds and two tablespoons of peanuts. 
Saute them for a minute and add one teaspoon urad dal and one teaspoon chana dal. Add two whole red chillies, curry leaves and two green chillies. 
Saute till the dals turns golden brown. Add the 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder and asafoetida. 
Mix well and add the tamarind extract. The tamarind extract was about 1.5 cups. Add 2 cups of water, salt and allow this to boil well. 
Once it starts boiling, add one cup of broken rice to this. Mix well to ensure no lumps are formed. 
Cover the cooker and pressure-cook for three whistles. 
Once the pressure is released, open and add two teaspoons of sesame oil. 
Serve with vadams or appalam.

The water measurement was perfect for this rice kurunai. If the broken rice is little finer than the one I used, you can add three cups of water.

Country vegetables sambar by Banumathi Balasubramanian 

(Instagram @Banumathi Balasubramanian) 

Toor dal: 1/2 cup  Water: 2 cup 
Turmeric: 1/4 tsp  Sesame oil: 2 tsp 
Dry red chilli: 6  Chana dal: 1 tbsp 
Coriander seeds: 2 tbsp  Fenugreek: 1 tsp  Pumpkin  Ash gourd  Sweet potato  Broad beans  Chow chow 
Field beans: 1/4 cup  Grated coconut: 2 tbsp  Asafoetida; a small piece 
Tamarind water: 2 cups  Salt to taste


Pressure-cook 1/2 cup toor dal with two cups water and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.   Heat two teaspoons sesame oil in a frying pan. Fry six dry red chillies, 1 tablespoon chana dal/kadalai paruppu, two tablespoons coriander seeds and one teaspoon fenugreek seeds, until dal turns light brown.  Add in two tablespoons grated coconut and fry until coconut turns light brown. Grind this to a fine paste or powder.  Cut country vegetables (pumpkin, ash gourd, sweet potato, broad beans, chow chow) to 1 inch cubes/pieces. Add in 1/4 cup field beans.   Heat two cups of water in a cooking pot. Add in the vegetables and then add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder. Cook for about seven minutes.  Add a small piece of solid asafoetida and two cups of tamarind water extracted from a lemon-sized tamarind. Add salt.    Bring to a boil. Cook until the vegetables are soft.   Add in the cooked dal and the ground spice powder/paste. Add in a cup of water if needed to adjust consistency.   This kozhambu should be a little thicker than regular sambar. Bring to a boil. Cook for two more minutes. Turn the heat off.   Temper with mustard seeds, curry leaves and 2-3 red chillies broken to pieces in one tablespoon sesame oil.   We don’t add chopped cilantro/coriander leaves to this sambar.

Red rice ven pongal by Padma Balasubramanian 

(Instagram @Padma Balasubramanian)

Red rice: 1 cup  Moong dal: 1/4 cup  Pepper: 1 tsp  Jeera: 1 tsp  Hing powder: 1/2 tsp  Ginger: a small piece, finely chopped  Curry leaves: a few  Cashews: 10  Ghee: 2 tbsp  Oil: 1 tbsp

Wash and soak red rice for an hour in 3.5 glasses of water.   Wash the moong dal, drain water and add it to the soaked red rice. Transfer to a pressure cooker and cook for six whistles.  Keep the stove in sim for another five minutes and switch off.   Allow the pressure to settle down and open after 20 minutes. It would have cooked very soft. If it’s watery, it will thicken after cooling. Add salt and mix well.   Heat a frying pan. Add ghee and oil. Add coarsely crushed pepper and jeera. Add the cashews, hing powder, ginger and curry leaves. When it splutters, add it to the pongal.  Mix well and enjoy.

Millet akkaravadisal by Jeyashri Suresh

(Instagram @Jeyashris Kitchen)

Varagu/ kodo millet: ½ cup  Saffron: 2 pinches  Moong dal: 2 tbsp  Milk: 2 cups  Jaggery: 2 tbsp  Water: ¾ cup  Ghee: 2 tbsp  Cashew nuts: a few  Edible camphor: a pinch

In a vessel, add millet and moong dal. Wash well and add ½ cup water and two cups of milk. Cover it with a plate.  Pressure-cook this for 7-8 whistles and keep it on low flame for five minutes. Switch off the flame.  Once the pressure subsides, take it out and mash it well.   If it is too thick, you can add some milk and mix well.  Soak saffron in one tablespoon of warm milk for five minutes.  In a pan, add jaggery and ¼ cup of water. Let the jaggery melt. Filter the impurities and add it to the mashed millet mixture.  Mix well and cook for two minutes on low flame.  Add ghee and mix well. Add edible camphor.   Roast a few cashew nuts in ghee and garnish the dish.


Any millet like barnyard millet, little millet or thinai works well for this millet akkaravadisal. I personally don’t prefer adding cardamom powder as it will suppress the flavour, or saffron and edible camphor.  The consistency of the akkaravadisal is perfect and stays intact for 4-5 hours.

Kambu vella pongal or Bajra jaggery pongal by Praveen Kumar

(Instagram @Awesome Cuisine)

Kambu (bajra): 1 cup  Moong dal: 1/4 cup  Jaggery: 1 1/2 cups  Ghee: 1/4 cup  Cashew nuts: a handful 
Raisins: a handful  Cardamoms: a few  Water: 6 cups

Dry roast the bajra until it gives out an aroma, and keep it aside.
To the same pan, add the moong dal and roast for a minute. Add water and simmer until the dal is 3/4th cooked. Then, add the kambu (bajra). Stir continuously until it starts to thicken.
Add jaggery and mix well. When it starts to leave the sides of the pan, reduce the flame. 
Fry the cashew nuts and raisins in ghee. Add to the pongal and stir. 
Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes or until it has a pongal-like consistency.
Sprinkle some cardamom powder and serve.

Turmeric pickle by Shanthi Ramachandran

(Instagram @shaanthram) 

  Fresh turmeric  Salt  Chilli powder  Lemon juice (All Quantities as required)

 Clean, peel the skin of fresh turmeric and cut them into thin strips (or grate them according to your preference).
 Add the required amount of salt and chilli powder and mix well.
 Keep it aside for 10-15 minutes.
 Add in the required amount of lemon juice, mix well and serve after 30 minutes.
 You can refrigerate and use this pickle, which is both tasty and medicinal, for a few days.

Kodo millet sweet pongal by Srividhya Ravikumar

(Instagram @Vidhu’s Kitchen)

Varagarisi / Kodo Millet: 1 cup  Moong dal: 1 tbsp  Jaggery: 1 1/2 cup  Ghee: 4 tbsp  Cashew nuts: 2 tsp  Cardamom powder: 1 tsp

Pressure-cook varagarisi and moong dal in the ratio of 1:3, and let it cook for 7 to 8 whistles. Once cooked, mash it.
Add 1/2 cup hot water to the jaggery and filter it. 
Boil the jaggery and when it reaches a thick consistency, add the mashed varagarisi mixture, cardamom powder and stir well. 
Fry cashews in three tablespoons of ghee and add to the varagarisi sarkarai pongal. Mix well. Serve hot.

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