- Red Rice - 1 1/2 cups
- Jaggery - 2 1/2 to 3 cups (I used the round ball kind)
- Cashew nuts – halved, a generous handful
- Ghee – melted, 1 cupful
- Wash the red rice at least in three changes of water. Soak the washed rice for half an hour prior to cooking.This helps the rice to cook to a soft texture.
- Break the jaggery you are using into large pebble sized pieces.Take the measured jaggery in a heavy bottomed pan, pour enough water to cover the jaggery ( I needed 1 1/4 cups of water), and bring the solution to a boil. Stir lightly. When the water just starts boiling switch off flame. Wait for all jaggery to dissolve. Use a large fine sieve / colander to filter the impurities in the jaggery solution.
- Mix in the jaggery water and cooked rice, cook on high flame stirring briskly. Once they are mixed well, reduce flame and keep stirring continuously, mashing with the back of the ladle as you go along.
- Add a couple of tablespoons of ghee as the pongal bubbles away.The pongal is done when it looks like a homogenous,semi-solid, glossy mass.
- Fry the halved cashews in the rest of the ghee, pour with love over the pongal. Your delicious, healthy, fit-for-the-Gods pongal is now ready!
- It is very important to cook rice to a soft mush for the pongal. Once the jaggery and cooked rice are combined, the rice will not cook any further and you could end up with a chewy or a ‘biting hard grainy’ texture.
- In India, the term red rice is used loosely to denote brown rice, unpolished rice, or hand pounded raw rice. So it means rice where the grain is dehusked but bran is retained to a full or partial degree.
- The benefits of rice bran are several. The bran is very rich in fibre –
- Hence it is recommended to avoid conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, or heart disease.
- For diabetics, and for patients of coronary heart disease, too, eating red / brown rice is recommended . It helps bring blood sugar levels down and prevents cholesterol formation in arteries.
- Fibre helps easy normal bowel movements, so regular eating of red rice guards against constipation, piles, prevents diverticulosis, and several studies show results that a regular high fibre diet guars against colon cancer too.
- Besides fibre, rice bran is rich in iron, manganese, selenium, and most of the B complex vitamins. We stand to lose all these in white polished rice.
- Apart from red rice, this recipe contains jaggery, another ‘unpolished’ food. Jaggery has higher levels of iron and trace minerals than refined sugar. Jaggery is also sweeter, hence you can use lesser quantity in a recipe. Due to this jaggery is a safe sugar substitute for people with borderline diabetes (within allowed daily limits).
- Ghee added to this recipe does add to the fat content and to the richness of the dish – which reminds us to indulge in moderation!