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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Pongali / Ven Pongal (Milk Version)


The word "Pongal" in a nutshell embodies the essence of the harvest festival from the southern regions of India. For the uninitiated, the word stands for two things. A south Indian harvest festival also known as Sankranti and a dish prepared with rice and moong dal on that day. Talking about the latter, there are savory and sweet versions and they were originally meant to celebrate the harvest bounty like rice and sugarcane. The term"pongal(i)" generally refers to the savory version and also goes by regional names like khara pongal / ven pongal or huggi.
Besides being the quintessential item on a festival day, it also happens to be a popular 'prasadam' offered at south Indian temples and a much enjoyed breakfast option at homes. No surprises there considering that it tastes so divine. Rice and roasted moong dal are cooked until they reach a creamy consistency and are spiced with pepper, cumin, ginger and salt. When I want to make the dish extra special, I replace more than half of water used to cook rice and moong dal with milk. The resulting pongal would be more rich, creamy and tastier. Another important point to be noted while making a pongal dish is not to skimp on the usage of ghee. Besides making it calorie laden and luxurious, it turns the dish super yummy. 
 
Ingredients:
1/2 cup rice (Don't use Basmati variety.)
1/4 cup moong dal
1.5 cups water
A pinch of turmeric powder
1/2 tsp pepper corns
2 cups milk
1.5 tsp salt
Ingredients for tadka:
2 to 4 tbsp. ghee
1 tbsp. cashews
1 tsp ginger grated
1/2 tsp pepper corns, crushed coarsely
1 tsp cumin seeds
Few curry leaves
Method:
* Roast the moongdal on low flame for a couple of minutes and remove from fire. (This step is optional.)
* Wash rice in two exchanges of water and drain. Add rice, moong dal, turmeric powder, peppercorns and about 1 & 1/2 cups of water to a dish that can fit into your cooker. 
 
* Add water to the cooker base, place the dish into the cooker and cook for 2 -3 whistles. Turn off the stove and wait till valve pressure is gone.
 
* Alternatively, the ingredients can be cooked in a non stick pan / sturdy pot on stove top. (You can add equal quantity of milk and water while cooking.) However keep stirring in between and add any extra water/milk needed while the cooking progresses. Cook until rice-dal are done. 
* Now transfer the pressure cooked rice-dal mixture to a sturdy pot or a non stick pan and add salt. Mix and mash the mixture lightly with the back of a ladle and add the milk.

* Let the mixture cook leisurely on a gentle flame until the milk gets incorporated into the mixture and the pongal reaches a creamy texture.
* Mean while, heat ghee in a small pan and add cashews. Toast them until they turn golden, remove them with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Then add the grated ginger to the same ghee and fry until it starts to brown. Add the remaining tadka ingredients and sauté for a few more seconds. 
 
* Remove from heat, add it to the cooked pongal and mix well.

* Serve with chutney and / or sambhar.

These go to BM #43 under "Festival Special Theme". Check here to learn what other dishes are being cooked during this marathon.

9 comments:

Srividhya Manikandan said...

Mouth watering :-)

lavina agarwal said...

love it..it tastes just great!

Suja Ram said...

Delicious Pongal. I liked your elaborate write-up too.

Priya Suresh said...

Pongal is just inviting, very hard to resist.. Beautiful clicks.

nandoos Kitchen said...

lovely mouthwatering pongal

Srivalli said...

I love this version as well Suma...as you said pongal varieties are such sought out ones during festival time..

Harini-Jaya R said...

Wow love this creamy version of pongal. Never tried adding milk for ven pongal!

Pavani N said...

My husband loves the creamy and rich pongals served in temples. I usually skimp on ghee and he doesn't like that :-)
Your pongali looks comforting and delicious.

Padmajha PJ said...

This is how my mom makes pongal.So creamy and delish!