This Pongal, try Rasam mocktails and kalkandu pudding brownies
Brownies made with rice and mocktails blended with tamarind. Weird things are happening this Pongal. And we hope you're up for the ride - although we can't promise a bullock cart.Here's the gist of what pub hopping can do for you this weekend, even if you skip the alcohol and stay 'farm fresh' through the evening.
Ready, steady, po?
Shot of payasam
We never thought we would ever come across a mocktail named Payasam. Until D Sampath Kumar, F&B Manager of the Savera hotel shared this Pongal-inspired menu with us, that is. This one is a blend of cream, sago, raisins and a hit of jaggery for sweetness. "Jaggery really changes the flavour of a drink," he shares with us, and adds, "as for our sugarcane juice, we are getting it freshly pressed right here at the hotel". Other creations like the Thai Pongal (fresh pineapple, sugarcane juice, lime juice) and Aruvadai (tender coconut water, honey and mint) also beckon our attention. At Bay 146, between January 13 and 16. Rs 325 upwards.
Cane you do it?
You don't need to learn the nuances of a pongal recipe to be able to cheer Pongal o Pongal anymore. Just raise your glass to this mocktail that comes with the same name. "We have a mocktail loaded with sugarcane juice and vanilla ice cream," says Sreeram K, restaurant manager at INK 303. "Give it a vigorous shake and it turns frothy and delicious. Then we garnish it with a generous topping of dried nuts," he says. Enjoy alongside harvest-inspired appetisers like a Millet potato tikki and Ragi tacos. At INK 303, available on January 13 and 14. Rs 199.
After two years of sugarcane-centric creations during Pongal, The Park Chennai decided to opt for a change this time around. "This season we are focusing on South Indian staples like jaggery and tamarind instead," says F&B manager Kiron Kumar, who promises these concoctions will leave your tastebuds tingling. Our picks include the Rasam mocktail (tamarind pulp, crushed garlic, tomato juice, cumin powder, asafoetida, curry leaves, pepper and salt) and the Pokiri Pongal (tomato juice, passion fruit pulp, pepper, lime juice and sugar). At The Leather Bar, January 12 to 14. Rs 350 plus taxes. "Try the 601 Elaneer payasam enrobed in a sakkarai pongal vadai if you want a little bit sweetness to follow your tang," he adds.
Subika GS, baker at Bisous a quaint little brownie shop that started in Chennai earlier last year says that pongal is her main inspiration for her new dessert. "Pongal at my place is usually two types of pongal - chakkarai pongal and kalkandu pongal. My favourite was the latter, and I work with brownies for a living with my brand Bisous. So the inspiration for my Pongal special brownies was rice and I created rice pudding blondies." Subika describes her brownies as a white chocolate brownie layered with creamy rice pudding (kalkandu pongal). "When you bite into it, you will get that custardy pudding with a bit of dense blondie. I'd like to think it tastes like heaven!"
Shaken and stirred
Keeping in check with the flavours of the season, Taj Club House decided to go all local with their usage of spices and fruits by creating the Apple Gravity and Thousand Lights - both Pongal-inspired mocktails. Amit Malhotra, F&B Manager says that it's a salute of sorts to Madras city. "Thousand Lights has a base of muddled ginger with lime juice and pineapple juice. It also has a dash of orange juice. The best part is that after it is poured into a glass, we smoke the top with cinnamon which resembles the morning after Bhogi, minus the scent of burning of course!" The other mocktail Apple Gravity is the ultimate spice mix with cinnamon, peppercorn, star anise, cloves and cardamon. "It's our signature mocktail for the season and has a very local flavour to it. Apart from these two, Taj Coromandel also has a sugarcane and ginger sorbet available on request for Pongal. Available through the month.
(None of the drinks above use alcohol)