One of the delicious culinary dishes of South India, especially Tamil Nadu, Ven Pongal is a rice-based pudding. Reflecting the overflowing spirit of Pongal festival, making of Ven Pongal is considered an auspicious activity and believed to bring riches to the family.
This food delicacy is an obvious choice for feasting and special occasions; not only this, it is also served as prasadam at many South Indian temples. People over there enjoy it most with raitha (curd-salad) and tamarind gravy. This palatable dish makes a good breakfast as well as lunch. Cooked in combination with lentils and flavored with cumin and pepper, Ven Pongal is known for its peculiar taste that comes with the liberal use of nuts and ghee.
Preparing Ven Pongal takes about half an hour. The procedure is quite simple; if you have not tried it before, you can do this time with the following cooking method to help you:
Ingredients for Ven Pongal
A cup of grained rice
!/4 cup moong dal (lentils)
A tablespoon of ginger paste
A pinch of heeng (asafoetida)
Salt to taste
A tablespoon of cumin seeds
¼ spoonful of peppercorns
1 tablespoon of dry ginger
2 tablespoonfuls of cashew nuts
A big spoon of ghee/oil
Curry leaves (finely chopped)
6-7 cups of water
Method of Preparation
Wash rice properly to remove any impurities and extra starch lingered to their surface. Wash moong dal also. Now heat some oil in a frying pan and roast moong dal in it for some time. You do not have to deep fry the dal; cook it until it is light brown.
Now add the roasted dal to washed rice in a pressure cooker. Add 3-4 cups of water and a pinch of salt to it. Cook them for about 15 minutes. Keep them aside.
Warm some ghee in pan; add cashew nuts to it and allow them to saute until they turn crispy. Empty the contents of the pan into a vessel.
Mix peppercorns and cumin, crush them both. Pour some ghee in the pan again and heat it a little. Add the crushed mixture of cumin and peppercorns in it. Allow them to saute a bit. Lower the gas flame; add chopped ginger pieces, curry leaves. When you are done, throw some turmeric powder and coconut gratings to the mixture. Stir properly and mix asafoetida powder a minute or two before removing the pan from the gas stove.
Now, your seasoning is prepared. Add it to the cooked mix of rice and lentils. Mix thoroughly until it acquires a uniform consistency. If some ghee is left in pan, do not discard it, but put it over Pongal.
Keep in mind that if you do not use fair quantity of ghee, the Pongal so formed will be too hard to eat and you will not be able to relish it. Also, if there is excess water in cooked rice-lentil, dry it by keeping them at low flame.
Serve the dish with raitha, roasted papad or coconut chutney.
A Slight Variation
There is another way of making Ven Pongal … You need to roast rice and moong dal separately in oil. Do not deep fry them. After that seasoning is prepared, add rice and lentils to it in a pressure cooker. Add 3-4 cups of water and cook well. While serving, add some spoons of hot ghee.
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