Sunday, 13 January 2013

When pongal?

Ven Pongal

When pongal?


Breakfast, lunch, tiffin, dinner, naivedya/prasad, picnic, party, convalescence, feasts… this simple but soul satisfying dish is versatile.

Ven Pongal is made during the harvest festival of Pongal in South India. Pongal comes from the Tamil word “to swell or overflow” which signifies the cornucopia post the harvest season.

In Maharashtra, a similar khichadi like dish is made on Bhogi, the first day of Sankranti, along with bajra bhakri with sesame seeds, with a dollop of butter or ghee and a side of lekurvali bhaji (literally bhaji with a lot of children!).

The entire menu for the Pongal/ Sankranti feast reflects all the seasonal produce that is harvested and that is good to keep warm during winters. The generous amounts of ghee and butter that are used are totally justified.

The skinned variety of moong dal is usually used in pongal, but I wanted a trade- off for the ghee, so I compromised with split whole green gram dal and didn’t regret it one bit. 

The dal with the skin added a lovely texture to the smooth rice whose flavour was enhanced when bits of chopped ginger and pepper, unexpectedly but delightfully, cropped up in a mouthful! 

Happy Pongal! Happy Sankranti! Happy Lohri!


1 cup Basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
½ cup split whole green gram dal, soaked for 30 minutes
1 tbsp Chana Dal
1 tsp Whole black pepper corns
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

For the tempering

2 tsps Fresh ginger, chopped 
½ tsp Cumin powder
A pinch of Hing
2 tbsp Ghee
8-10 Curry leaves


7-8 Cashew nuts, fried


Heat a heavy bottomed pan or pot and add the oil. Fry the cashews and keep aside. In the same oil, add the chana dal, peppercorns, drained soaked rice and split green gram dal. Roast the rice and dal for a minute and then pour 4 cups boiling water into the mixture. When the mixture starts to boil again, add salt to taste. Cook the pongal just as you would cook a soft rice dish. If required, add a little more boiling water. Cook covered towards the end.

In a small frying pan, heat oil and ghee and add finely chopped ginger and sauté till golden, then add the curry leaves, hing and cumin powder.  Pour this mixture over the pongal, mix well, adjust the tastes and cover again to rest it a bit.

Garnish with the fried cashew nuts and serve hot with a dollop of ghee and a coconut chutney and/or sambar.

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