Made from rice and lentils, this satisfying South Indian breakfast recipe, Ven Pongal or Khara 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 in a bowl garnished with cashews and curry leaves
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Ven Pongal is a ghee-laced dish and 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: 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 friend’s 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.

Watch How to Make Ven Pongal

What is Pongal?

Ven Pongal is a savory 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. You can also make this pongal with millets in place of using rice. 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 northern Indian cuisine.

Pongal Festival

Pongal is a four-day-long harvest festival in South India. It is celebrated as a thanksgiving festival for a bountiful harvest. It is known by many names across India, such as Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Bihu in East India, 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 Naivediyam in Tamil. Ven Pongal and Sakkarai Pongal are regular offerings to gods in Southern India.

Ingredients

Rice: I have used Sona masoori white rice, but you can also use Seeraga samba rice ir Ponni rice for this recipe. 

Yellow Moong Dal: Use dehusked, split yellow moong dal.

Spices: For this recipe, you need just a few spices – whole black peppercorns, cumin seeds, asafoetida (hing), and salt. You can use crushed black pepper if you don’t want whole black pepper while eating.

Ghee: Adding a generous amount of ghee gives flavor and aroma to this dish. However, if you are vegan, replace it with a plant-based oil of your choice.

Herbs/ aromatics: Ginger, curry leaves, and green chilies are used. They add lots of flavor to the dish and make it delicious.

Cashew nuts: I like to use cashew nuts. If there are any allergies, you can skip it.

pongal in a bowl topped with sambar

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 is 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 Ven Pongal

Ven Pongal can be made both in an 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 it.
  • Then add the moong dal and rice to a 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 and black peppercorns (whole or lightly crushed) along with asafoetida, curry leaves, and cashews.
ven pongal steps to make in instant pot collage
  • Sauté these ingredients till the cashews are lightly roasted. Take out half a portion of the tempering and reserve it for later.
  • Then add slit green chili 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 the sealing position.
Ven Pongal made with rice and moong dal ready in instant pot
  • 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.
Khara pongal in a bowl topped with tempering of roasted cashews, black pepper corns and curry leaves

Stovetop Ven Pongal

Follow the same steps as above to get the dal and rice ready for pressure cooking.

  • In a stovetop pressure cooker, 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 chilies 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.
  • Roast the moong dal for an authentic nutty flavor to the final dish.
  • Pongal thickens as it cooks. Add hot water when reheating to adjust the consistency.

Variations

You can also cook many variations of this Khara Pongal like:

  • Make pongal 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.
Khatta Pongal in a bowl garnished with cashews and curry leaves

Common Questions

Which rice is best to use for Pongal?

You can use both ponni raw rice and parboiled rice to make this dish. Seeraga Samba rice is also a good alternative when trying to eat healthy.

How to serve Pongal?

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.

How to reheat pongal?

To reheat refrigerated Ven Pongal, add a couple of tablespoons of hot water, mix well, and microwave it for a minute.

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5 from 17 votes

Ven Pongal

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.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • (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.
    Roast Moong Dal in instant pot
  • 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.
    added cashews in intant pot
  • When the ginger turns golden brown, add rice and moong dal. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
    Rice, dal and tempering in the instant pot
  • Add water and salt. Close lid with vent in sealing position. 
    Dal rice and water to pressure cook in the instant pot
  • 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).
    Cooked pongal in the instant pot
  • Open the instant pot, and serve pongal. Top with reserved tempering with roasted cashews. Enjoy hot with sambar and chutney!
    Ven Pongal in a bowl garnished with cashews and curry leaves

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.

Video

Notes

Vegan Pongal: To make this pongal vegan, use plant based oil of your choice in place of ghee.
Consistency: Adjust the consistency of the ponagl by adding hot water to it as needed. The pongal will thicken as it cools.
Reheating: To reheat refrigerated Ven Pongal, add a couple of tablespoons of water, mix well and microwave it for a minute.

Nutrition

Serving: 311gCalories: 396kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 10gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 29mgSodium: 965mgPotassium: 301mgFiber: 10gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 189IUVitamin C: 104mgCalcium: 48mgIron: 5mg

Additional Info

Course: Breakfast, Main Course
Cuisine: South Indian
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegetarian
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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15 Comments

  1. This is one of my all time favorite recipes. I make it again and again. It is just so comforting and easy, and I love having a batch available to snack on throughout the week. Thank you for sharing this sure to be lifelong favorite!

  2. good recipe but takes way longer than 30 min! it takes 10 min just for the instant pot to get pressurized! please update with accurate timing

    1. Hi Janani – I have not tried with brown basmati rice. If I were to try, I would suggest 22 minutes of pressure cooking for brown rice.

  3. Meeta , I made the Ven Pongal using your recipe. It was delicious and the consistency was perfect . Thank you !

  4. I will be using this recipe tonight for celebrating Pongal.

    Is 5 cups of water for 1 1/2 cups of Rice+dal too much?

  5. I have a hectic start everyday so I use True elements Pongal mix which can be made instantly. Try it once its really good.