Pongal is also the name of a popular dish from Tamil Nadu and also a multi-day festival which starts from Sakranti in January (usually on the 14th or 15th). There are specific dishes reserved for different days of the festivities. There are multiple sweet (Sakkarai Pongal) and savory Pongal variations available but my favorite out of the lot is Khara or Venn Pongal. Both Khara and venn mean savory.
I used to eat a lot of Pongal when I lived in Bangalore but missed it when I relocated to Delhi. Surprisingly, I did not get authentic Pongal in many places that I tried or maybe I was just missing Bangalore. Who knows, eh?
However, this drive of finding authentic Pongal made me try this recipe at home. Such a simple recipe delivers fabulous results. I make my Pongal with a lot of ghee and black peppers and that makes the recipe out of this world. Both my husband and I are big fans of this.
Let me show this step-by-step recipe of how to make Khara Pongal. This is a no onion-garlic version since it’s usually offered to the deities during the Pongal festivities. Hope you like it. Of course, feel free to create your own version of it.
PREPARATION TIME: 10 minutes
COOKING TIME: 45-50 minutes
DIFFICULTY SCALE: Low
- Rice – ½ cup
- Moong dal/yellow lentil – ½ cup
- Curry Leaves – 2 twigs
- Ginger – one small piece, grated
- Green Chillies – 2, slit
- Cashews – a few
- Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Sesame seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Asafetida – 1 pinch
- Black pepper – 8-9, freshly ground
- Turmeric powder – ½ teaspoon
- Dried Coriander seeds – ½ teaspoon
- Ghee – 2 tablespoons
- Salt – to taste
- Take the moong dal in a non-stick pan and dry roast it on low flame.
- Keep tossing the dal to make sure that it doesn’t burn. This releases aromatic oils in the dal and makes the Pongal delicious.
- Allow the dal to cool for a few minutes.
- Now mix the dal with rice and wash them properly.
- Add this dal-rice mix to a pressure cooker and add 1.5 teaspoons of salt to it. Add half a tablespoon of ghee as well. This will ensure a lot of flavor in the Pongal.
- Keep the cooker on high heat till one whistle and then cook it on simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Then take it off the heat and allow the steam to release.
- Once the steam is almost released, take a small tempering pan and place it on medium heat.
- Dice the cashews into halves using a knife.
- Add 1.5 tablespoon of ghee to it. Once the ghee is hot, add the cashews to it and fry them until they turn light brown. Dish them out and keep them aside.
- Now add cumin seeds to the pan and allow them to crackle.
- Then add slit green chilies and grated ginger and some curry leaves. (Chilli seeds usually splutter in hot oil/ghee, so do this step carefully.)
- Add roughly crushed black pepper, sesame seeds, a pinch of asafetida, turmeric powder and coriander seeds to it.
- Add the tempering to the boiled rice and dal mix and add the fried cashews on top.
- Serve hot with coconut chutney.
You could also add a tablespoon of ghee on top like my husband likes to add. J