A major harvest festival in southern india occurs in January when every house-front is decorated with intricate kolams, the Hindu designs of welcome, fashioned from rice or colored limestone.

On the second day of the festival the households prepares Pongal, a celebratory dish offered first to the gods, then to cattle and crows (believed to be returning souls), and finally to the villagers who partake of the feast. To be truly authentic in presenting this dish it must literally pongal (“overflow” in Tamil) as theis is a holiday that celebrates abundance.

Pongal (festive Sweet Rice)


1 cup rice
1/2 cup moong daal (mung beans)
2 cups milk
2 cups water
1/3 cup maple syrup & 1/4 cup honey
15-20 cashews chopped
1/2 cup ghee
2 cups raisins
1 cup fresh minced coconut meat
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
seeds of 6 cardamom pods, ground

  • Dry roast the moong daal lightly over a low heat in a heavy-bottomed frying pan.
  • Mix the daal with the rice and wash thoroughly.
  • Put milk and water in a heavy-bottomed pot and bring it to a boil.
  • Add rice and daal and cook, stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed.
  • Sir in the maple syrup over a low heat until dissolved.
  • Add 4 tsp pf ghee and stir until the consistency becomes sticky.
  • Remove pot from the heat and add the honey
  • Heat the remaining ghee in a frying pan and lightly fry the coconut meat, the cashews and the raisins for just 2-3 minutes. Add this mixture to the pongal along with the nutmeg and cardamom and serve warm.