Friday, January 14, 2011

Ven pongal- South Indian Festive rice!

One of the 28 states, Tamilnadu has historically been an agricultural state for India- It is also the leading producer of agricultural products in India (source- Wikipedia). Come January, the whole state gets ready to celebrate "Pongal" also known as harvest festival! The idea is to thank god for the bounty harvest and is celebrated at harvest time.

When you talk about Pongal festival, you definitely gotta talk about the food delicacies prepared- sakarai pongal and ven pongal! These are rice based dishes and come in sweet (sakarai pongal) and salty flavors (ven pongal). Ven pongal is not just prepared for the festivities- It is a popular dish in many south Indian homes and is often served as breakfast/tiffin. It is rich in flavor and takes minimal effort. Rice cooked with lentils and combined with pepper, cumin seeds and curry leaves provides the flavors. Highlight of this dish?cashewnuts sauteed in butter/ghee simply catapults this dish to a different height! Don't believe me? Check out-


1 cup rice
1/2 cup moong dal (yellow lentils)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp whole black pepper seeds
1/2 tsp grated ginger
dash of asafoetida powder
chopped curry leaves (4 to 5)
2-3 tbsp ghee or butter (generally you work with ghee for this dish- but I had to substitute cooking butter)
Salt (according to taste)
oil to saute spices


Step 1 is to cook the rice with lentils- Wash the uncooked rice and keep it separate. Dry roast the lentils on a pan before mixing to your rice-Cook the rice with roasted lentils by adding 3-4 cups of water and salt according to your taste. Once cooked, keep it aside. Coarsely crush the peppercorns and cumin seeds. In a frying pan, add oil and saute ginger. Add the crushed pepper and cumin seeds with curry leaves. Mix in a dash of asafoetida powder and saute for a couple of seconds. Remove from heat and set it aside. In a separate pan, fry the cashew nuts in 1 tbsp of ghee/butter till they are crisp. Add the roasted spices and cashew nuts to you cooked rice and ensure that the spices have blended well. Mix in the remaining butter/ghee to your rice and serve!

What is ghee? Ghee is clarified butter and works great with the above dish- The nuts and ghee accentuates the flavor of pepper and cumin to make it a wonderful dish!

Happy Pongal to all! Sending this recipe to an event hosted by a fellow blogger- Pongal fest event


  1. pongal looks tasty ... wish you and your family a very happy pongal


    Super Yummy Recipes

  2. Hi!Very funtastic receipe.Engayo Poitte.Keep it up . Mom

  3. Delicious and all time favourite pongal..happy pongal wishes..

  4. It looks delicious! Thanks for sharing about the whole festival.

  5. i have had only sweet pongal....nice recipe for a savory version....yummy....

  6. Pongal looks really good, I've never had it, thanks for sharing it with me. I love the cashews on top. Happy Pongal to you and everyone.

  7. I am surely going to try this out, sounds delicious !!!

    US Masala

  8. That looks so delicious. I love flavoured rice. Your ingredients are very interesting, especially the addition of cashew and lentils. That must have given the dish a really interesting texture.

  9. This rice is beautiful as well as I am sure very flavorful from looking at the ingredient list!

  10. Hey, thks for your lovely comments @ Luxury Indulgence!

    I've not tried South Indian rice but this looks so delicious with all the spices.

    Looking fwd to more sharing, not just on cooking :) Do "Like" me @ my Facebook Fanpage!

  11. This looks and sounds absolutely delicious!
    Happy pongal to you!

  12. This looks so delicious and healthy!

  13. What a great dish. How fun to celebrate harvest and the bounty we enjoy.



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