Paal pongal (milk pongal) is usually made on the day of Pongal festival. It is the most basic pongal that is also called as Vellai Pongal as it is completely cooked in milk till mushy.
Newly harvested rice is used to make this pongal in big Vengala Paanai (bronze pot). Paal pongal is always left to boil over from the pot as it is considered auspicious and symbolises prosperity. After worshipping Sun God with the cooked Paal pongal it is then served to cows which is considered to be the holiest animal in Hindu religion and mythology. Though we use farm machinery now-a-days, earlier bullocks were used for farming and is considered as a farmer’s best friend because it is impossible to practice agriculture without them in those days.
In our home the cooked paal pongal is spread into a circle on a plantain leaf which is used to line a bronze plate and 5 indents are made on that spread. Each indent is filled with jaggery, ghee, banana roundels, curd and milk which is considered as pure and auspicious.
Paal pongal has little taste on its own and is rather bland. So it is usually served along with Pongal Kuzhambu and 7 kari kootu. At night, the the left over paal pongal is then made into balls and dropped into clay pots filled with water for overnight. This is to prevent them from spoiling and also to prevent the milk from turning the paal pongal become too sour.
Next day morning, that is on “Maatu Pongal” the extra water is discarded, fresh curd is added to the pongal, and then a simple tempering is prepared of mustard seeds, green chilies, minced mango-ginger, grated carrot, curry leaves and coriander leaves and poured over the pongal and mixed well.
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It is served for breakfast along with pongal kuzhambu or pudhina thogayal for the kids and elders eat the same with poondu thogayal. It is considered inauspicious to waste the paal pongal and any left overs are served to the cows.
Normally paal pongal is cooked entirely in milk, but you can also use combination of water – 100 ml and milk – 150 ml for the below recipe. Buy rice that is specifically sold for pongal.
Paal Pongal Recipe details below:
- Raw rice - 1/2 cup
- Milk - 2-1/2 cups
- Salt - to taste
If doing in Vengala Paanai:
- Add milk in vengala paanai first and bring it to a boil. Let it boil over, then add washed rice and cook till it half done.
- Add salt and cook it is mushy and sticky.
- Keep mixing in between with a ladle.
If doing in pressure cooker:
- Wash rice and add it to the cooker, add milk, salt and mix well.
- Cook for 4 to 5 whistles over low flame.
- Let the pressure release on its own, open the lid and mash well with a spatula.
- Serve with pongal kuzhambu or 7 kari kootu.