The Tamil harvest festival — a Thanksgiving of sorts– is determined by the Hindu calendar and this year it falls on January 14. Pongal’s always especially welcome because it brings with it two of the most delicious dishes you’ll ever eat that are also named Pongal — Venn Pongal, a salty, cumin-scented, risotto-like preparation of rice and mung lentils, and Sakkarai or Chakkarai Pongal, a sweet, cardamom-scented pudding made primarily– again– of rice and mung beans.
Over many years of cooking for my readers– and my Tamil husband Desi– I’ve tried and tested many vegan versions of Pongal. Traditionally both the sweet and savory Pongal recipes include tons of ghee, but my vegan avatars are just as delicious and far healthier — not to mention more compassionate, which just seems right for a celebration of any sorts, doesn’t it? For all you gf’ers out there, all these recipes are also gluten-free.
So here they are, including a recipe for fun Crispy Pongal Cakes, a delicious way to makeover leftover Venn Pongal. Try them, to make your Pongal just a little bit more special.
Pongal Vazhthukkal, all!