Rock sugar also known as rock candy or kalkandu in Tamil is a confectionery composed of large sugar crystals. In the United States, you can find them in different colors and flavors. In India, they are usually diamond shaped crystals or large crystals which can be broken down easily. In the States, you can find these in Indian grocery stores. German rock sugar available in Teavana can also be used in this recipe. This simple lentil and rice based dessert is quite popular in South India especially Tamilnadu and is made on Harvest festival day to signify abundance and prosperity. The traditional sweet pongal recipe uses brown sugar or jaggery but this variation with rock sugar is equally delicious. For a vegan version, substitute coconut milk or water for regular milk in the recipe and leave out the clarified butter.
1 cup rice
1/2 cup moong dal
1 cup milk
1 cup rock sugar
1 tablespoon raisins
1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
few strands of saffron soaked in warm milk
2 tablespoons clarified butter/ ghee
1. Dry roast moong dal in a pan for 5 minutes, set aside.
2. Heat clarified butter in the same pan, add cashews and raisins and fry till raisins become plump and cashews turn golden brown.
3. Clean and wash rice along with roasted moong dal.
4. Cook rice and dal along with 3 cups of water and 1/2 cup of milk in a pressure cooker for 5 whistles.
5. When the pressure is completely released, open the cooker and add 1/2 cup of milk and rock sugar. Mix well, rock sugar will start to melt in the heat. If you are using large crystals of rock sugar, powder it and then add it to the rice-lentil mixture.
6. Add powdered cardamom and saffron, mix well.
7. Add roasted cashews and raisins along with clarified butter(add more if needed), mix well. Serve warm.