Chakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal) is a rice-dal based sweet dish, that is more of a snack than a dessert. It is made of rice similar to the payasam, but has the consistency of khichdi and is made using jaggery. Venn Pongal (White Pongal) has the same basic ingredient as the sweet pongal, but is its savory partner. Venn Pongal is a very popular tiffin/snack in South India. Of all the dishes that I know (or rather I can think of as I am typing this), Venn & Chakkari Pongal are two dishes that go well as a pair – a sweet one to balance the savory one.
Both Pongals have essentially the same base. Roast equal parts of rice and moong dal and pressure cook with 3 times their quantity of water. Mash the cooked mixture well. For sweet pongal, make jaggery syrup using the same quantity of rice (in my case, I used 1 cup of rice, 1 cup of moong and 1 cup of jaggery) to a hard-ball consistency. Add the mashed rice-dal mixture to the jaggery syrup and mix them well. Once it mixes well, fry golden raisins and cashews in ghee and add / garnish the sweet pongal.
For the savory variety, make the thalippu (tadka / seasoning) with a tablespoon of oil and mustard seeds, cumin-pepper mixture, asafoetida, curry leaves and cashews. Add this to the mashed rice and dal, and mix this well. You can serve this with sambar and/or coconut chutney.
- While making chakkarai pongal, add a ripe banana while pressure-cooking rice & dal for more flavor.
- Add cardamom / nutmeg powder and saffron, while cooking rice for chakkarai pongal for additional flavor.
- Cook the rice-dhal mixture with water-milk combination, in 3:1 ratio approximately.