Recipe - Ven Pongal

Ven Pongal is a popular breakfast dish in Tamilnadu.   It is traditionally served in South India during Makara Sakranti - a 4 day Hindu festival that celebrates Surya Bhagwan (Sun God).  It coincides with the start of spring and the harvest.  Many different foods made from the new harvest (rice) are offered to God in thanksgiving and then shared with family and friends.   We serve it for lunch or dinner. Here's the recipe with a *Coconut Chutney that accompanies it:

  • Empty 1 cup Moong Dhal and 1 cup Rice (short grain, like Jasmine) into a bowl.
  • Wash till the water runs clear (lots of water for your garden).
  • Finally drain the water through a fine sieve/colander.
  • Spread on a plate and allow to dry for about 1/2 an hour.
  • Heat a heavy based pot and add 1 tbsp ghee and the previously washed dhal and rice.
  • Stir-fry the dhal and rice for about 5 minutes on a low flame.
  • In the meantime boil a kettle with about 4 cups water.
  • When your timer goes off, add 1 tsp sea salt and 1/2 tsp asafoetida and 4 cups freshly boiled water.
  • Cover, set your timer for 10 minutes and lower the flame to a simmer.
  • When the timer goes off turn off the stove and leave covered to rest for at least 10 minutes.
  • In the meantime, prepare the coconut chutney that accompanies this dish.

The Tadka:

  • Skin, then slice a thumb-size piece of ginger into juliennes and set aside.
  • Heat a small pan.
  • Then add 4 tbsp ghee (use home made or a good brand), lower your stove to simmer.
  • Now add 1/4 cup whole cashews, 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp black peppercorns.
  • Stir fry till the cashews start to change colour.
  • Then add 1/4 tsp turmeric1 red dry/sliced green chilli (optional), 8 curry leaves and 1/4 tsp asafoetida.
  • Stir fry for 30 seconds then immediately pour over the cooked rice.
  • Mix then place in serving dish.  Garnish with the prepared ginger juliennes.
  • Accompaniments usually served are the coconut chutney pickle and papad.  

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