Ven Pongal also known as Khara Pongal is a South Indian breakfast made with rice & yellow moong lentils. It’s very easy to prepare and is real comfort food.
If I have to name one food from the South Indian cuisine that is my all time favorite then this Ven Pongal and Dosa would tie for the No.1 spot. This pongal is very special to me. It has been my dad’s favorite and I seem to have taken off from him. I am so obsessed with this dish that every time I reach my hometown Bombay, my MIL makes this for me on the very same day. In fact, even when we were discussing our wedding day menu, I had insisted that we serve Ven Pongal with Coconut Chutney for breakfast. I have even ensured with the priest that I was not to be fasting on that day because that would mean that I would miss this delicious breakfast spread. Thankfully our priest told me that I could eat on my own wedding day! Phew!!
Just to explain what the big deal is and why we South Indians prepare this dish. Pongal –the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu which also marks the first day of Tamil month. This coincides with Makar Sankranti in North India. Pongal is a Tamil word which means to spill over. Traditionally new harvest rice is cooked in milk in a clay pot and people let the rice-milk mixture boil and spill over. When the rice starts to boil and spill over people gather around and shout the verse “Pongalo Pongal”. Once it’s cooked, it is offered to the Sun God thanking him as he is the chief energy behind agriculture and a good harvest. We have been doing this ritual for generations. Personally, I enjoy this festival more in our village than in the city.
My grandma would make the most tastiest Ven Pongal which she would serve with lots of ghee. The aroma of ghee mixed with crushed black pepper and cumin seeds was tantalizing. The recipe is one of the most simplest you will ever find. Sharing my family recipe with you today. Traditionally it was prepared outside the house on a stove in a clay pot. However since people migrated to cities, the recipe too has an adapted version. Wash and boil moong dal and rice with salt, milk and water in a pressure cooker. Once done, mash it lightly with a spoon. Crush cumin seeds and black pepper coarsely and add it to the rice mixture. In a tadka pan, add ghee. Once the ghee is hot, fry minced ginger and curry leaves for a minute.
Pour this onto the rice. Give it all a good mix. Drizzle some more ghee on top. By this time, your kitchen will be filled with a nice aroma. Serve this Ven Pongal with freshly made coconut chutney. That is the best and ideal combo for this dish. The pepper gives it the required spice and cumin seeds and ghee give it the flavor. This makes a hearty breakfast which can keep you for a couple of hours.
I feel that the Pongal I make at home never tastes like my mom’s or MIL’s. Although the recipe is exactly the same, the taste never is. I crave for having this dish made by them more than me making it. There are certain dishes which are just impossible to replicate especially when you have tasted the best. This pongal is also given to children by reducing the pepper content. The rice and lentils make it a nutritious meal for young kids plus it is easy to digest. Since it is one of my favorite meals, I do not wait for this Pongal festival to have it. In fact, now even KR is trained to make it for me whenever I am craving for it! 😉
- 1 cup rice
- 1/2 cup moong dal
- 2.5 cups water
- 1/2 cup milk
- Salt as required
- 1 tbsp crushed cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp crushed black pepper
- Half inch ginger, minced
- 4-5 curry leaves
- 1 tbsp ghee
- Additional ghee for serving
- Wash and boil moong dal and rice with salt, milk and water in a pressure cooker. Once done, mash it lightly with a spoon. Crush cumin seeds and black pepper coarsely and add it to the rice mixture. In a tadka pan, add ghee. Once the ghee is hot, fry minced ginger and curry leaves for a minute.
- Pour this onto the rice. Give it all a good mix. Drizzle some more ghee on top. By this time, your kitchen will be filled with a nice aroma. Serve this Ven Ponagl with freshly made coconut chutney.
- Freshly and coarsely ground black pepper tastes the best in the recipe. Avoid using pepper powder if possible.
During this festival, there is a sweet version of pongal that is prepared as well. Every year, I try to give the sweet pongal a fruity twist. Last year I made Cherry flavored Sweet Pongal and this year I prepared Pineapple Pongal. Do check out both these recipes. Some South Indian breakfast recipes that you can try are Rawa Paniyaram in Appe Pan, Vermicelli Oats Idli, Potato Dosa, Semolina/Rawa Uttapam with Cabbage, Mini Masala Idli and Mysore Masala Dosa.
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