Rinse the rice and cook it in your preferred way. I cooked my rice in the pressure cooker by adding 1 cup of water for three whistles. Let the pressure subside and set the rice aside.
Prepare the jaggery syrup/mix and mix with the rice-
Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a saucepan. Then add the jaggery and cardamom powder. When the jaggery melts, add the coconut and mix. We don't need to worry any about any consistency here. Make sure you melt the jaggery completely.
Now add the cooked rice and mix well. You will notice that the rice will be watery. That's normal. Just cook for 4 to 5 minutes over medium-low heat. Then turn off the heat.
As the rice cools down, it thickens completely. The rice will absorb all the water. So don't worry if you see some moisture in the rice.
Prepare the cashew tempering-
In a separate tempering pan, melt the ghee. When the ghee melts, add the cashews and roast until it turns till golden brown.
Add this roasted cashews to the vella sadam. Mix and enjoy! Serve it warm.
Adjust the jaggery amount as per your taste.
I used grated coconut for this recipe. But you can use small coconut pieces and roast it in ghee or oil and add it to the rice.
Along with cashews, you can use raisins and other nuts also.
The jaggery variety that I used didn't have any impurities, so I did not filter it. But if you feel your jaggery has impurities, before adding coconut, strain it once.
I usually add cardamom. But you can add a pinch of edible camphor and some grated nutmeg or cloves and make it more like sakkarai pongal. All these are flavor enhances, so adjust it according to your personal preference.
Make it vegan-
Unlike sweet pongal, we don't need any milk for this rice. So you can skip the ghee tempering and keep it vegan and nut-free. Or you can use vegan butter or margarine and do the tempering.