Ven Pongal: An authentic South Indian breakfast. Rice and lentils cooked together, till soft and seasoned with few ingredients like cumin-pepper-ginger-curry leaves & cashews. Ghee is a key ingredient and the extra dollop of ghee before serving does wonders to the taste.
Believe me, it’s quite a filling breakfast so I generally make them on weekends for brunch. We savor this dish with Kathirikai Gotsu or Tiffin Sambhar and Chutney. In restaurants Pongal is usually served with Vadai. I am choosy about Vadai from restaurants but love home-made ones!
The very word Pongal reminds of the festival “Pongal”, the harvest festival.
Patupavadai(Silk Skirt), Color kolams(Rangoli), Sugarcane, Kanu pidi (Its is a tradition that the women and young girls of the house pray for the well-being of their brothers), used to be fun. Since Pongal festival is right around the corner (Jan 14), we thought this would be the best time to post this recipe.
Back in South India, in many temples pongal is served as prasadam (food distributed after offering it to the deity). I remember, I used to go to temples more out of the craving for the prasadam than out of devotion!
Level: Easy but its tricky too to get the right consistency. Sometimes the pongal becomes very dry or very watery. But there is always some trouble-shooting ideas.
1 cup Raw rice
1/3 cup Moong dhal/Pasi paruppu
4 and 1/2 cups water
1 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 tbsp ghee
1/4 tsp peppercorns
2 1″ ginger piece, roughly chopped
3 green chillies (adjust as per preference)
12 cashews (broken into small pieces)
Few strings of curry leaves
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1 tsp of ground pepper-cumin powder (i add this cause we don’t prefer biting into too much peppercorns)
Salt – to taste
Wash Rice and Moong dhal thoroughly. Dry roast moong dhal for about 4 minutes. Let it not get burnt.
On medium heat, in a pressure cooker add the rice, roasted moong dhal and cumin seeds. Add 4 and 1/2 cups of water.
Pressure cook for 5 whistles. After the pressure is released, immediately mash the rice and dhal with back of a ladle.
On medium heat, in a Large Pan, add 2 tbsp ghee. Once hot add peppercorns, green chillies, ginger and cashews. As the color of cashews begin to change, add asafoetida, ground pepper-cumin powder and curry leaves.
Add the mashed rice and dhal mixture. Add salt and remaining ghee. Mix well and remove from heat.
Serve hot with Kathirikai Gotsu or Tiffin Sambhar and Chutney
If it is too dry/thick then hot water to bring it to desired consistency.
If it is very loose, Continue cooking on low flame for extra time, mix continuously until you get the desired consistency. Keep stirring else Pongal may get burnt or may have a burnt flavor.
We do not prefer biting into a lot of peppercorns so I add a teaspoon of coarse ground pepper and cumin powder in the ghee before rice-dhal mixture is added. The freshly ground powder gives additional aroma.
I know a lot of Maamis in India use Vanaspathi(Dalda) for making pongal but I would not recommend. The pongal served in restaurants do add that “restaurant style” tag but knowing the benefits of ghee why compromise.