If I said it is freezing cold here in Houston, I’m pretty sure people in the east coast are going to get mad at me, so let me just say that it got pretty chilly here for the past few days. I weighed out the options- hot bowl of soup, pasta, spicy paneer and gobi with fried rice or this pongal(N will be against the soup any day). Majority of the vote(including my son) fell for the pongal, so it was pongal for dinner.
This is something that my mom made when we were kids and it was hit especially in the winter. With the cold winds howling during the month of December/January, eating this hot pongal with mango pickle or puli mulagai pachadi or thengai thogayal and watching a movie was such a regular scene during those years! As mom makes this pongal, my dad will offer to do the pachadi, my sister and I will sit and talk in the kitchen with them and making dinner was such an enjoyable team work.
This is how it goes:
Rice(uncooked, not basmati)- 1 cups
Water- 3 cups
Tamarind- 1/4 tsp
Oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds-1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Chana dal- 1 tsp
Urad dal- 1 tsp
Curry leaves- one spring
Asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut- 3-5 tbsp(depending on your taste)
Red chilies- 2
Salt to taste
Just sprinkle some water on the rice and blend it coarsely in a blender. Mix tamarind paste in 1 cup of water.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add chana dal, urad dal, cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and fry well. Then add red chilies, yogurt chilies and coconut. Pour 2 cups of water, one cup of tamarind extract in water, then add salt and turmeric powder. Cover and let the water boil.
When the water has been boiling for 2-3 minutes, reduce the flame, slowly add the coarsely powdered rice and mix well. Cover and let it cook on low flame for another 10 minutes till all the water has been absorbed and rice is cooked. Mash it well.
Serve hot with coconut thogayal or mango pickle or avakkai pickle or mavadu pickle or this puli mulagai pachadi. Even the yogurt chilies used in the pongal is a good accompaniment! This is something spicy and tangy for the winter.
Do not use basmati as it will be very mushy once the pongal is done. If the rice is old rice, then the pongal will come out really well. Just check for water to rice ratio, I used sona masoori rice. If you want, reduce the amount of water just a little bit(1/4 cup), make the pongal and you can even make kozhukattais like arisi upma kozhukattai. That is how my son likes his upams.