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Aug 25

Written by: Jennifer Kumar, Cultural Adjustment Coach
Saturday, August 25, 2007

Pongal Recipe and Cultural Tidbits

comments welcome


1          cup rice*
¾         cup mung dhal
Salt to taste

Pinch ing
Pinch turmeric (optional)
For tempering:
3 tbs     ghee
4          slices ginger 1/8 inch thick
1 tsp     cumin seeds
¼ tsp    peppercorns (about 10)
10         curry leaves
2 tbs     cashews


1.         In a pot put the rice and dhal with 2 – 2 ½ cups water, salt, ing, and turmeric.
2.         I like to boil this in an open pot, not a pressure cooker.  I turn on the burner and heat
the pan about 15 minutes or as it starts to boil.
3.         Soon as the boiling starts, you can stir it.  When it boils, it may rise and water spurt
out the sides on the stove.  If you keep stirring it,
the boiling will continue, but the foam
or spurts from the top will relax.
4.         Heat ghee and temper all the spices and cashews as listed under “tempering.”  When they begin to slightly smell or brown, not burn,
add this to the pongal pot while it’s still boiling.  Add water to the pan after dumping the mix into pongal and add the water back into
the pongal pot.
5.         Continue boiling the pongal until it softens.  Also cashews will soften in this process.  It may be necessary to add water to the pot as
it cooks to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot or burn
6.         When done the pongal will be soft and slightly watery.  Mix it, take it off the burner and keep aside. As it cools, it will solidify.  Hence
putting more water than required sometimes works
out well.
Notes:  Some people like to add 2-3 tablespoons additional ghee in the pongal as it cooks.  Pongal is eaten by some with lots of ghee.



Rawa Pongal by Kamala

*The photo to the right, by Kamala, is a Pongal made with rawa (sooji in Hindi or Cream of Wheat in English) and not rice. The Pongal made with rice or rawa have similiar looks. Some prefer to put more or less dhal (lentils) as per taste. Kamala's recipe for Rawa Pongal actually has less dhal than mine. Also with rava pongal, the rava has to be 'dry fried' first. This is not the case with dhal pongal.

**There are many kinds of pongal, this variety is otherwise called venpongal or salt pongal because much of it's taste comes from the salt and it is not sweet. Venpongal varities are generally eaten for breakfast with sambar and vada, but can be eaten with sambar any other time of the day also- for lunch or dinner as a quick meal. All varieties of pongal are also eaten for the main Thanksgiving Pongal meal in January. There is a sweet version called chakkra pongal or pongala payasam (more in South Kerala) that has jaggery or brown sugar added to make it sweet. This is often eaten as a desert.

***Pongal is a dish famous in all regions of India, with variations on the recipe and name of the dish depending on the local language. One other variant is kichidi. Sabudana or tapioca is also added into this dish in other areas.

comments welcome here

If you're looking for a pot with a dual purpose of cooking and serving sambar, stew, pongal or similar dishes, try the pot to the right! I got it a few weeks ago, and love it! When I saw the pot, I wanted to go back again and again for more sambar, mostly because the pot is so cute! I like how the pot handle's have a silicone coating on the inside part (think that is it). Because of that I did handle the pot without potholders.

These are just a few ideas I have experience with. I would like to learn more. If you have creative solutions to integrating American utensils into Indian cooking, please leave your comments below. I really appreciate you reading my blog and sharing your thoughts and experience with me!!

See more items to create your India inspired kitchen.

Tips on creating an Indian inspired kitchen - your ideas welcome!


Enjoy Pongal with Sambar powder from August 4, 2007.

Updated July 2009, January 2012.

Thank you for reading and visiting Alaivani.com.

Copyright ©2007 Jennifer Jayanthi Kumar


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