A very happy Pongal to all!
For those wondering what this means, Thai Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Tamil Nadu (a South Indian state). Pongal in Tamil means “boiling over or spill over.” The boiling over of milk in the clay pot symbolizes material abundance for the household. Thai Pongal, celebrated at harvest time, is traditionally intended to thank the Sun God that helped create the material abundance.
Rice is added to the milk with some jaggery and this “Sakkarai Pongal” is then allowed to boil over. What you see in the picture below are the traditional dishes made for Pongal. Venn Pongal is the “salty” version of Pongal, simply put. It’s a type of rice porridge or “khichdi” with rice and lentils as the main ingredients.
As with all traditional dishes, there is an art to making this dish just right. I’ve had various types of venn Pongal, too dry, too pasty, too much ghee (clarified butter), not enough ghee:) and so on. I think Anusuya’s recipe of Venn Pongal is what I would classify as the “just right” kind. She makes the Pongal and then transfers it to a crock pot which, I think gives it that perfect consistency.
2 cups raw rice
3/4 cups moong dal
1 fistful red lentils (masoor)
7-71/2 cups water
Salt to taste
1/2 cup cashews
2 tbsp whole black pepper
1 1/2 inch Ginger crushed or sliced into small pieces
1/4 cup Ghee (clarified butter)
A sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp cumin seeds (jeera)
Roast the moongdal. Mix all the other grains, add the water and transfer this to a pressure cooker.
Pressure cook the mixture with salt to taste ( for the above amount you can add about 2 tsp salt) for about 5 whistles or about 10-15 minutes.
While the rice is cooking’ heat the ghee in a flat bottom pan. When hot, add the ginger and sauté lightly. Now add the cashews, powdered pepper, and cumin seeds. Fry till cashews are golden brown. Add the curry leaves and turn off the stove.
Open the lid of the pressure cooker after it has cooled a little, mix the rice and lentil mixture well with a ladle.
Now add the pepper, cashew, Ginger and the ghee to the rice. Garnish with the curry leaves. You can now transfer this to a crock pot and switch to “keep warm” mode.