Thursday, September 23, 2010

Put pressure on the basics, Pongal!

"machi ,here's a blog request machi. hope you are back in shape now and feeling better. since you are still at home, why don't you ask your mom to make pongal and you take pics of that and write a combined blog with your mom!! . i was looking at some recipes online and most of them seem to mess it up like mad. i was thinking of your simple recipe which is super effective. guess these guys don't know what pongal is !!"
                                 - Vivek , 4th September 2010

When I read this mail, I was thinking, how can someone mess up Pongal?! It is one of the easiest traditional breakfast a person can make. Ven Pongal derives its taste and nutritive value from the simple ingredients that go into it and it is best served as a hot steaming breakfast. Even when I am writing this, my visualization takes me to my college canteen where Pongal is served, just the way it should be, with sambar and coconut chutney.

Pongal is one recipe that also depends on "kai manam" or the hand that cooks it. It will taste differently even when cooked with the same ingredients but with a different pair of hands. There is no quantization of the ratios and each person can adapt what his tongue likes. So my recipe is going to be more specific to how I like my pongal and of course which has won the hearts of several people!

Add just one table spoon of ghee (clarified butter) to the pressure cooker. Fry a few cashews until then are golden brown and then add whole black pepper. Add cumin seeds, finely chopped ginger and fresh curry leaves. A pinch of hing and turmeric powder can be added now. Add in 2 cups of rice and half a cup of moong dhal into this and mix well. Add 2 cups of water more than how much the rice will usually consume. That is to say, 8 cups if you use raw rice, 6 cups if you will use basmathi. Add salt and pressure cook until done. Serve with sambar or gotsu and coconut chutney.

After opening the pressure cooker, top up with another spoon on ghee and mix well. Too much of ghee will make the pongal unpalatable and no one wants to sleep right after breakfast! Adding chopped green chili is not advisable at all, it is not pongal anymore! Vary the levels of pepper and ginger to attain different levels of spiciness. Make sure that the rice and lentils get blended well when you cook it. Pongal is smooth, the rice should not be like how is it in vegetable rice. If you are going to make it in an open vessel, then to boiling water, add chopped ginger, black pepper, curry leaves, cumin, hing, turmeric, salt, rice and lentils. Finally when the rice and lentils are cooked, add cashews roasted in a little excess of ghee and mix well. Only in this sequence you will ensure that the rice and lentils gets cooked well. With the pressure cooker, things are different, quick and you can afford to be lazy!


  1. en da naayae, en veetla saaptiyae pongal eppadi da irunduchu?

  2. true. true :) the taste of pongal depends on the person also..You remember , how we are all addicted to vasu's Margazhi ven-pongal.. so, yummy, that i try all the time to prepare like her. But, it is sad that vasu nowadays put cashews like pepper, and vice versa, and adds ghee like that extra water that you have mentioned :(
    anyways, i am preparing rava pongal tonight !!

  3. @Harish: your pongal top da!
    @Amma: Mazgazhi pongal was totally addicting!!

  4. @harish...avan avan problem avan avanukku...

  5. Awww pongal.. yummy :) Very nice write up and so true that it depends on who makes it. :) You know!! I eat it with sugar. ;) we also make a version of onion chutney as a combi with pongal. And I don't add hing and turmeric to pongal. May be should try next time :)