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Pongal delights

EVERY YEAR, January 14 marks the change of season, when the rays of the sun become perceptibly stronger and we can espy an end, at least a beginning of an end, to the harsh winter in North India. Whether we call it Sankranti in the North or Pongal in the South, the period abounds with harvest rituals. It is even called Khichdi Sangran, since across the country people cook khichdi, a mixture of rice and dal. Here are two recipes to try out.

Shakkara Pongal

Ingredients:
Rice - one cup
Moong dal (yellow variety) - one cup
Jaggery - one cup
Sugar - one cup
Milk - one cup
Cut pieces of dry coconut - half cup
Ghee one cup

Cashews, raisins and almonds fried in ghee according to taste

Cardamom (elaichi) - two-three cloves

Procedure:

Fry the pulses in ghee till they turn reddish. Wash the rice. Now place rice and dal in pressure cooker with enough water to cook to a semi-solid consistency.

After removing from the heat, mix in all the ghee let it cook with dry fruits. Allow it to thicken. Then add the sugar and jaggery, stirring continuously and allowing excess water to evaporate. As soon as the mixture begins giving off ghee, it is ready. Add powered cardamom at the end.

Khichdi

Ingredients:

Urad chilka and rice in equal measure
Sliced onions (optional)
Ghee
Cloves, cumin, carom

Procedure:

Soak the ingredients in water. Heat ghee, add cloves (sabut long), cumin seeds (zeera) and carom seeds (ajwain). Fry sliced onions if using. Add the drained rice-dal mixture and fry till fragrant. Add boiled water (one-and-a-half times the amount of rice-dal) and cook covered till grains are tender. Add more water if required.

With inputs from Jyothi Murthi

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