Ah. Biryani. That mouth-watering melting pot of flavors and spices. Who doesn’t like biryani? Shockingly, me. I have never been a fan and always wondered at the euphoric reaction it elicited among everyone, including my husband. But, during this quarantine period, I decided to conquer some of my misconceptions and biases (one reason for my dislike for biryani is its name) for certain foods. And, biryani tops the list. Others are kadalai curry, vadakari, korma (i really like the aroma, just not a fan of the actual dish, go figure that), aappam (again, I love the looks, the concept, just not crazy about actually eating it). Anyway, I started with searching for a good recipe for biryani and watched a youtube episode of Revathy Shanmugam’s Kavignar Veetu Samayal and decided to give it a try. Jackpot! Not only did I actually love it and not because I was super hungry, but I even ate it as a leftover. Finally, my search for a biryani I could love is over! This will be, for sure, my go to recpe for biryani. I made the side dish she made as well, and loved it also. Have provided the link in the notes section – for those who can follow Thamizh. Now, on to the recipe.
Akkara adisil is the quintessential Iyengar dessert, and there are no two opinions about how it should be made – it’s basically rice and moong dal cooked in lots of milk and ghee, and a healthy dose of jaggery or unrefined sugar.
The key to this dish is to cook the rice and dal in a mix of water and milk, preferably whole milk.
Story behind the dish:
Legend goes that Andal (Gotha Devi, the lone female among the 12 Aazhvars) longed to become one with Krishna. She obsereved a nonbu (penance, fast) during the month of Margazhi and offered him neivedhyam every day. On the 27th day, she made this dish, cooked rice and dal in milk, sweetened with jaggery, and dripping with ghee, and offered as neivedhyam. She was granted her wish on this day, which is known as Koodaravalli. Yestreday, our local temple performed Andal Kalyanam, and I had taken this as prasadam.
Ven pongal (white pongal) is a simple and soothing comfort food. The main ingredients are white rice and split moong dal, with very few spices/seasonings. It is easy to digest and therefore makes a great comfort when you’re sick and craving something warm. It is made during the month of Margazhi/dhanur (roughly mid December- mid Jan) in the early mornings. My memories of school days during this time is going to the temple early in the morning to get the hot prasadam of pongal (sweet and savory).
A point about pongal: If you don’t have fresh ginger, curry leaves, black pepper, cumin, cashews, and ghee, don’t even attempt it because none of these ingredients are optional for a good pongal.