Pongal is one of the most popular harvest festivals of South India. It is a four- day long festival that falls in the month of Thai every year and marks the auspicious beginning of Uttarayan – the sun’s journey northwards for a six-month period. The word ‘Ponga’ literally means overflowing and is named so because of the tradition of cooking the new rice in pots until they overflow, which is symbolic of abundance and prosperity. While raw rice and moong dal is used to prepare pongal at every household on the occasion, here are a few varieties that you should know about:

Sigapparisi Karuppatti pongal (made using palm sugar)

This particular variety is made with combination of red rice and karuppatti. It is delicious and healthy, especially those suffering from diabetes. This rice can be replaced in the place of raw rice while preparing pongal. Palm sugar is not sugar-free or low calorie sweetener; it is a low GI (Glycemic Index) sweetener. It is good for problems relating to breathe, like asthma, cold, cough, Anemia, Leprosy, typhoid, and high blood pressure. Even red rice is a type of unpolished rice that has higher nutritional value than white rice or polished rice.

Fruit pongal

Do you enjoy a fruity twist in your dessert? Then you can try making a fruit pongal. Just pick your favourite ones like apple, pineapple, papaya, jackfruit, musk melon, strawberries, mango and chikku. Chop and blend to create a pulp. Then make the usual sakkarai pongal and add the fruit pulp right at the end right before garnishing with roasted nuts and raisins.

Aval pongal

This is very easy to make and can be made on a busy weekday morning as well. It is made with a combination of aval and moong dal. The only effort is to keep the ingredients ready, we can prepare with minimal effort. Aval or flatten rice pongal fills your tummy but is not heavy food. Serve this delicious pongal with some piping hot sambhar and a tangy chutney.

Kalkandu pongal

Kalkandu (sugar candy) pongal is served along with lunch during Chettinad weddings. The pongal made using kalkandu is rich and creamy. It is also made during pooja at home. Children specially enjoy this taste of rice with milk and sugar candy.

Wheat pongal

The entire world is moving towards wheat in quest for a healthier alternative to rice. So if you want to enjoy the traditional pongal but also intend to watch your health, then opt for wheat variant. And if only you have to choose, go in for samba wheat. The nutrient value of wheat is retained even after processing it into flour. However, if you wish to get the maximum benefit out of wheat products, it’s advisable to choose wheat products that are made from whole-wheat flour rather than the refined varieties