Made from rice and lentils, this satisfying South Indian breakfast recipe, Ven Pongal, is enjoyed with sambar and chutney. Deliciously seasoned with curry leaves, cumin seeds, and black pepper, this vegetarian and gluten-free recipe is a wholesome meal.
Ven Pongal is a ghee laced dish and is also a one-pot recipe, that makes up for a delightful lazy weekend brunch. It is served steaming hot with coconut chutney and sambhar. There are two versions of this pongal, the sweet and savory.
This pongal recipe is the savory version and is a good choice for breakfast, lunch or even dinner.
Today I am sharing my friends recipe for Ven Pongal. We have been enjoying the dish at her place for years, and finally I am making it at home. The kids and everyone in the family loved it.
What is Pongal?
Ven Pongal is a savoury South Indian Rice and Lentil dish and is known by many names such as Khara Pongal or Ghee Pongal. The sweet Pongal variation is known as Sakkarai Pongal. Both these variations have a smooth porridge-like consistency and are served piping hot.
The tempering of cashews, curry leaves, pepper and ghee gives this dish a wholesome and sumptuous taste. It is also quite similar to the khichdi, a popular dish of the northern Indian cuisine.
Pongal is a four-day long harvest festival of South India. It is celebrated as a thanksgiving festival for a bountiful harvest. It is known by many names across India like it is called Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Bihu in East India and Makar Sankranti in North and Western India, and Lohri in some parts of North India. Many special dishes are cooked using the newly harvested grains.
They are offered to the gods and are called as Naivediyam in Tamil. Both Ven Pongal and Sakkarai Pongal are a regular offering to gods in Southern India.
How to make Ven Pongal?
When making this delicious Pongal, it is a good practice to roast moong dal as it gives out a wonderful aroma and easily mashes when cooked along with the rice. When making Ven Pongal or Sweet Pongal, it is important that the dal well-mashed for a uniform taste. I usually roast the dal till it becomes aromatic and then make this dish as it enhances the flavor of the Pongal.
Black peppercorns are an integral part of this dish, and you either temper them whole or crush them a little bit before adding them.
But, the key to a great taste is the generous serving of ghee all over the Pongal.
Instant pot method
Ven Pongal can be made both in Instant Pot and stovetop pressure cooker. I have listed both options below, and you can choose your preferred method of making this Khara Pongal.
- Set the Instant pot to sauté mode and add the moong dal. Roast it until it becomes aromatic for a couple of minutes. Remove it from the pot and keep it aside in a dry plate/bowl. This step is optional, if you are in a hurry, you can skip this step.
- Then add the moong dal, rice to bowl or strainer and wash them well till the water runs clear.
- Next, start the Instant Pot in sauté mode and add a generous serving of ghee.
- Add cumin seeds, black peppercorns (whole or lightly crushed) along with asafoetida, curry leaves and cashews.
- Sauté these ingredients till the cashews are lightly roasted and take out half portion of the tempering and reserve it for later.
- Then add slit green chilli and ginger and sauté them till the ginger turns golden brown. Add the rice and moong dal to this mix and sauté for a few minutes.
- Add water and salt to the pot and stir all the ingredients together once. Then close the lid with the vent in sealing position.
- Set the Instant pot setting to rice mode which by default goes to low-pressure cooking for 12 minutes.
- Once the pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, you can release the remaining pressure manually
- Once the pressure is completely released, open the Instant pot and top it with the reserved tempering and roasted cashews. Enjoy it piping hot with sambar and chutney.
Follow the same steps as above to get the dal and rice ready for pressure cooking.
- Pressure cook the dal and rice along with the required quantity of water for 3-4 whistles on a medium-high flame. Once the pressure is released, check the consistency of the Pongal and add more water if needed.
- Take a medium-sized pan on the stovetop and prepare the tempering by adding ghee, then cumin seeds, black pepper, asafoetida, curry leaves and cashews. Roast them till the cashews become lightly brown.
- Then add the slit green chillies along with ginger. When the ginger changes color, your tempering is ready.
- Add the tempering to the cooked dal and rice and mix them well. Simmer for a few minutes for the flavors to soak in and enjoy it with Sambar and chutney.
Tips for perfect Khara Pongal
- The key to making a perfect Khara Pongal is good quality and quantity of ghee.
- You can lightly crush the peppercorns if you want your Pongal to absorb the flavor well.
- The ratio of water is according to your preference. Usually, Pongal has a porridge-like consistency, but if you like a dry version, just reduce the quantity of water.
You can also cook many variations of this Khara Pongal like:
- Making them with an equal amount of dal and rice which is also a good substitute for toddler food.
- You can even add the veggies of your choice to this Ven Pongal.
- Split green moong dal also works well with this recipe. You can make quinoa Pongal in the same way as described above.
You can use both ponni raw rice and parboiled rice for making this dish. Seeraga Samba rice is also a good alternative when trying to eat healthy.
Serve Pongal with a bowl of steaming hot sambar and freshly made coconut chutney. Just drizzle a little bit of ghee over the Pongal before serving as it will give out a delicious aroma.
Reheating: To reheat refrigerated Ven Pongal, add a couple of tablespoons of water, mix well and microwave it for a minute.
Here are other recipes you might enjoy:
- 1 cup Short grain Rice, I used sona masoori rice
- 1/2 cup Split Yellow Lentils (Moong Dal)
- 3 tablespoon Ghee or Oil
- 1 teaspoon Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns, whole or lightly crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon Asafoetida (Hing), optional, skip for gluten-free
- 10-12 Cashews
- 10-12 leaves Curry Leaves (Kadi Patta)
- 2 Green chili pepper, slit into 2, optional, adjust to taste
- 2 teaspoon Ginger, finely chopped
- 5 cups Water
- 1.5 teaspoon Salt
- (optional) Switch on the saute mode on your Instant pot and add the moong dal to it. Roast it until nice and fragrant for a couple of minutes. Remove it.
- Add the moong dal, rice to a bowl or strainer and wash them well.
- Start instant pot in sauté mode and heat ghee in it. Add cumin seeds, black peppercorns, asafoetida, curry leaves, and cashews.
- Saute till the cashews are lightly roasted. Take out half of the tempering and reserve for later. Add green chili and ginger.
- When the ginger turns golden brown, add rice and moong dal. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
- Add water and salt. Close lid with vent in sealing position.
- Change the instant pot setting to rice mode, which defaults to low pressure cooking for 12 minutes.
- When the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes, then manually release the remaining pressure (10 minute NPR).
- Open the instant pot, and serve pongal. Top with reserved tempering with roasted cashews. Enjoy hot with sambar and chutney!
Traditional Stovetop Method
- Follow the steps to roast the dal and then rinse rice and dal with water.
- Pressure cook the dal and rice along with the water for 3-4 whistles on medium-high flame. After the pressure is released, check consistency and add more water if needed.
- In a pan on stovetop, prepare the tempering. Heat ghee, then add cumin seeds, black pepper, asafoetida, curry leaves, cashews and roast till the cashews are lightly browned. Then add green chili and ginger. When the ginger turns golden brown, the tempering is ready.
- Pour the tempering on top of the cooked dal and rice. Mix and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Pongal is ready to enjoy with sambar and chutney.