Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Moonu/Moonru Raja Pongal | Karaikal Special Pongal Recipe | Gluten Free and Vegan Recipe

Hi Supermoms,

'Pongal' in Tamil language literally translates ' Over Flow' . Milk is boiled in an earthern vessel / pot and is made to boil over, signifying 'abundance '. Pongal is an ancient festival that has references in Tamil literature that dates back to 4000 years. A thanksgiving festival that is named after the main dish that is prepared - "Pongal". The primary ingredients to make this dish are rice, sugar and milk. 

Every year, I make Sakkarai Pongal ( Sweet ) and Ven Pongal ( savoury ) on this special day. This year, I wanted to try a different Pongal  and I stumbled upon the "Muunru Raja Pongal ' recipe by Lourdes Thirouvanziam Louis and was so intrigued. Though the author mentioned about Pongal festival and how this recipe is popular in Karaikal and Puducherry, it was not clear why a 'Pongal' recipe was made on the Epiphany day. 

I found this recipe is very similar to Paal Pongal ( Milk Pongal) , except that this was cooked completely in coconut milk. I found the final texture like a payasam( Kheer). Of course, you can cook longer till it becomes more thick.  I adapted the recipe, made my little additions and the pongal was so delicious. But I was still not sure if I have to give this name to the Pongal or simply call it " Thengai Paal Pongal'.  The name of the Pongal kept me thinking. I had a very interesting discussion with my father about the name "Moonru Raja ' and wanted to share some insights given by him . 

"Tamil Nadu was ruled by three great rulers , the 'Moovendar' and their kingdoms were the Chola Nadu, Pandiya Nadu and the Chera Nadu. The Chola Nadu was the rice bowl as the popular saying goes " Chola Nadu - Soru Udaithu, Nelkalanzhiyam '. The Pandya Nadu is the sugar bowl and the Chera Nadu was rich in Dairy Supply. As this festival was celebrated across all the three kingdoms, the main produce from these three kingdoms - Rice, Sugar and Milk were combined to make one great dish 'Pongal' to offer as a thanksgiving dish ".

This Pongal tasted so delicious. Everybody had two helpings. Freshly harvested rice is used to make this pongal. If you do not have it, you can soak regular raw rice for one hour and then make this Pongal. You can make it using regular milk too. 

Recipe Adapted from 'The Pondicherry Kitchen' by Lourdes Thirouvanziam Louis 

Moonu/Moonru Raja Pongal | Karaikal Special Pongal Recipe:

Preparation time : 15 minutes
Cooking time : 20-25 minutes
Serves : 2
1 cup = 250 ml cup

Ingredients :

1/2 cup raw rice( washed)
1/2 cup sugar
1 small size fresh coconut ( extract 3 cups of coconut milk
2 cardamoms ( powdered)

For tempering :

1 teaspoon ghee ( you can use coconut oil if you are vegan)
6-7 raisins
4-5 cashew nuts

Method :

1. Heat coconut milk in a heavy bottom vessel or earthen pot .

2. When the milk starts boiling , add the washed rice.
3. Keep stirring and let the rice completely cook.

4. Add sugar and cardamom powder and allow it to cook over low flame , till the rice is soft .
5. Switch off .
6. Heat a small pan or ladle with coconut oil ( or ghee) and add the cashews and raisins.
7. When the cashews turn light brown and raisins puff up , add it to the Pongal.

Your delicious Pongal is ready to be served. This Pongal is best enjoyed steaming hot. 

Wishing you all a very Happy Pongal .

Happy Cooking !

With love,


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