The term pongal, means the savoury version of the dish, and is also called Ven Pongal. (The sweet version, which I have already posted is the Chakkara pongal). It can be called the south Indian version of the khichadi as it has rice and moong dal to qualify for the title. However, unlike khichadi, it is eaten for breakfast, or as a ‘tiffin’ item, has no vegetables and is rather rich, with lots of ghee and cashews added to it. At south Indian weddings, and other celebrations, breakfast is not complete without pongal, idli and vadas. Rice is replaced with rava (sooji) to make Rava Pongal, which is awesome too.
Other than being a breakfast dish, ven pongal is also the choice naivedyam in the mornings at Vishnu temples in the month of Margazhi (Dec-Jan). I still remember the days of my childhood, when I used to accompany my father and elder brothers on the prabhat–pheri in the chill mornings of Nagpur and get a prasadam of hot pongal when we finally reached the bhajan sabha. Some days the pongal would be full of cashews and dripping with aromatic ghee, flavoured with pepper and jeera and on other days it would be dry, and one had to search hard for cashews!
Eaten as a tiffin, pongal is accompanies by coconut chutney or even tomato chutney and sambar.
I am sharing here the recipes of ven pongal, as the savoury pongal is known and a flavoursome chutney, which has minimal ingredients and super-simple to make.
Ingredients for ven pongal:
- Rice 1 cup
- Moong dal ¼ cup
- Water 3 cups
- Salt to taste
For the tadka:
- Peppercorns 12-15
- Jeera ½ tsp
- Ginger 2” piece grated or chopped fine
- Curry leaves 2 sprigs
- Hing ¼ tsp
- Ghee 2-3 tbsp
Cashew nuts 10-15 (broken into half)
- Dry roast moong dal till it turns golden brown.
- Wash rice and dal and pressure cook with 3 cups water and salt to taste. Cook for 3 whistles or till it turns soft. The grains should not be separate. Once the pressure is fully released, mash the pongal well.
- Heat the ghee and first fry the cashew nuts till it turns golden brown. Remove and keep aside.
- In the same ghee first add the peppercorns and jeera and when they pop, add the ginger, curry leaves and hing. Saute for a few seconds and pour over the pongal.
- Garnish with cashew nuts. Serve piping hot with Tomato-til chutney.
Note: You can crush the peppercorns and jeera and add to the tadka too, but this is more interesting and visually appealing too!
- Tomatoes 3-4 large chopped roughly
- Groundnuts 3 tbsp
- Til 1 ½ tbsp.
- Red chillies 1-3 (or according to taste)
- Oil 1 tsp for sautéing
- In a kadhai, dry roast groundnuts till they turn brown.
- In the same kadhai roast the til till it pops and changes colour slightly.
- Add the oil in the kadhai and first saute the chillies and then add the chopped tomatoes. Add salt and cook till the tomatoes turn slightly mushy. Don’t overcook. (See Pic)
- Now coarsely powder the groundnuts and til. Put it in a bowl.
- Grind the tomatoes and chillies and add to the powdered nuts. Mix well. Adjust salt.
- Flavoursome chutney is ready to serve.
Wish you all a very happy Makar Sankranti/Pongal!