Aval in tamil, poha in hindi and rice flakes in english is also called flattened rice or beaten rice. This is an easily digestible snack as well as a whole meal. Aval can be soaked in water or milk to make it softer. When soaked it swells to nearly double the quantity. It can be an evening snack with sugar or jaggery or a breakfast dish in the form of uppuma or even aval dosai/dosa. When I host, I make aval sarkkarai pongal as a dessert served hot.
Vellam/Gud or Jaggery is a traditional unrefined whole cane sugar. It is considered healthier than refined sugar since it retains more mineral salts (Wikipedia). It contains various essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins of the sugarcane juice and is also high on calcium which is required for maintenance of bone strength. Being rich in iron, it prevents diseases like anemia and also contains essential nutrients like magnesium and potassium. Magnesium is vital for the proper functioning of the nervous system and potassium regulates blood pressure and heart functions. (www.agriculturalproductsindia.com)
Karuppatti is another form of unrefined sugar made from palm sap. It is darker in colour than vellam and is traditionally considered healthier. I remember when we went to our grandparents’ house for vacation, elders use to have karuppatti kaapi/palm jaggery coffee or kadunkaapi or black coffee with palm jaggery.
In these fast paced modern days, usage of vellam or karuppatti is reduced to desserts. There is a real health need to go back to the old tradition of using jaggery in our day-to-day eating habits.
vellam and karuppatti
Aval Sarkkarai Pongal (serves 2)
Aval Sarkkarai Pongal is rice flakes or poha halwa made with jaggery. Palm jaggery or karuppatti can also be used.
- aval/poha/rice flakes – 1 cup (thicker variety)
- vellam/gud/jaggery – 3/4 cup (grated)
- grated ginger – 1/2 tsp
- ghee/clarified butter – 4 tbsp
- cashew nuts – 2 tbsp
- cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
- freshly grated coconut – 1/2 cup
Method of Preparation
- Wash aval two or three times, soak in water for 20 minutes and strain the water away
- Heat vellam/jaggery with 1/4 cup water and let jaggery dissolve
- Add grated ginger to jaggery and make a medium thick pouring syrup
- Strain the syrup
- Heat a pan with 2 tbsp ghee and add jaggery syrup and flattened rice
- Stir till aval soaks in all water and the syrup is well coated on the aval
- Add freshly grated coconut and stir till it mixes well
- Add cardamom powder
- Fry cashew nuts in 2 tbsp ghee
- Pour it over the finished aval pongal and mix well.
aval sarkkarai pongal
Some useful tips
- Dissolving jaggery in water and straining helps in removing sand or other impurities from jaggery
- Boiling grated ginger helps the juice and spice of ginger to get into the syrup; dry ginger powder can also be added
- Straining the jaggery syrup is done after boiling it with ginger so that ginger doesn’t come in the pongal
- 250gms jaggery with 2 tsp grated ginger or dry ginger powder and 1/2 cup water, can be boiled, strained and stored in the fridge for even 3 months.
- This syrup can be used for other jaggery based desserts and also as a substitute for white sugar in juices or porridges
- Thinner variety flattened rice would give halwa consistency easily; the thicker variety is useful to have a coarse texture – One can choose as the family prefers
- This pongal I have made is coarse in texture – Hence, a metal ladle is preferred. Wooden spatulas might mash the aval too much
- Thinner variety aval need not be soaked for more time
- Usage of coconut and ghee can always be altered.