Ven Pongal is so easy that nobody can really screw it up too much. But I have managed to do that too, multiple times. The very first time that I made pongal I used puzhungal arisi (parboiled rice) instead of pachai arisi (raw rice) and guess what; it makes no difference to the taste. The puzhungal arisi pongal tasted just as good and from then on, we have been making pongal with puzhungal arisi in our house. That was one goof-up that turned out well. This is extremely rare for me. As I’ve told you earlier I am generally not lucky with these things.
There are only 2 components to making a pongal, cooking the rice and dal and then tempering it. So where do you think I messed up next? Yes, while tempering the pongal. One time the whole black peppercorns were not fried well enough and were so pungent that they burnt a formula one track down everybody’s throat. The second time, I was so bent on ensuring that the peppercorns were fried well that I burnt them. This was partly because I wasn’t using enough ghee/oil to temper. I always feel uncomfortable using too much oil/ghee and I hadn’t used enough to temper the peppercorns. The peppercorns need to be fried like pooris in generous amount of ghee/oil. Lesson learnt: Don’t skimp on ghee while making pongal and let the peppercorns fry well. I now make pongal decently well. Here is proof.
Preparation time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 mins:Serves: 4-5
Rice – 1 cup
Yellow Moong dal (Paasi paruppu) – ½ cup
Water – 4 cups + 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Ginger – 1 inch piece finely minced
Whole black peppercorns – 1-1/2 tsp
Green chillies – 2 slit lengthwise
Curry leaves – 1 stem
Cashewnuts – a handful
Jeera/seeragam – 2 tsp
Jeera powder – 2 tsp
Coriander leaves chopped for garnishing
Ghee – 4 tbsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
1. Rinse rice and moong dal together in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Add 4 cups water and salt and pressure cook for 2 whistles or 15 minutes. Remove from fire and set aside.
2. In a kadai, heat oil and ghee together, add cashewnuts, ginger, green chillies, curry leaves and black peppercorns and sauté till the cashewnuts turn golden brown about half a minute. If the peppercorns aren’t well-fried they can be too pungent, if over-fried they taste burnt, so be mindful of that. Add whole jeera a little before the cashewnuts turn golden brown and let them splutter. Remove from fire and tip the entire tempering mixture onto the pongal and mix well. Add jeera powder and coriander leaves and mix well.
3. To avoid the pongal from getting dry and lumpy over time, heat the half cup water till it boils and tip it onto the pongal. Mix well. Add a little extra boiling water if you feel the pongal needs to be softer.
Coriander chutney – Ingredients
Coriander – 1 bunch
Ginger – ½ inch piece, peeled and chopped
Green chillies – 2-3 chopped
Split black gram dal/Ullutham paruppu – 2 tsp
Coconut – 1/2 a coconut grated
Tamarind extract – 1/2 cup
Salt to taste
Oil – 2 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Split black gram dal – 1 tsp
1. Pick the coriander leaves and wash them well. You could keep the tender top portion of the coriander stems also.
2. Soak a cherry sized piece of tamarind in half a cup of water for 10 minutes. Extract the juices and discard the pulp. This tamarind extract will be quite dilute.
3. Heat oil in a kadai/skillet, and add the black gram dal. When the dal starts colouring, add the green chillies and ginger and let fry for half a minute. Add the coriander leaves and sauté till it wilts and is fired well, around 2 minutes. Remove from fire.
4. In a mixer/food processor, add the sautéed coriander mixture, grated coconut, tamarind extract and salt and process till almost smooth or your desired chutney consistency. Add extra water if necessary.
5. To temper, heat oil in a kadai and when hot add mustard seeds and let them splutter. Then add the black gram dal and fry till they start colouring. Then tip in the ground chutney and mix well. Remove from fire. Serve with idli, dosai, pongal or upma.
1. You can substitute pudina for coriander to make pudina chutney. You could also use coriander and pudina in any ratio to make coriander-pudina chutney. I’ve tried all these combinations and all of them taste good. The coriander chutney is our default chutney for ven pongal or rava idli.