Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Dal And Rice Ven Pongal, The Centerpiece Of A Meatless Feast

   When I was planning my Pongal Feast for Foodbuzzs' 24 x 24 last week, I knew I couldn't have a true Pongal feast without... a Pongal. When I had a Pongal dinner last year, the dessert served was a soupy rice pudding made with a particular kind of rice served during Pongal celebrations, but since I was planning a Kerala vermicelli pudding for dessert, I needed my Pongal Rice to be my main dish. I settled on a savory blend of rice and dal studded with cashews, known as Ven Pongal.
   This dish is a fabulous centerpiece and it goes from pantry to table in about an hour and a half. You gotta love that. With all the stuff that I was preparing for my dinner that night, which I would be doing single-handed and sister-in-lawless,  I really needed something that would mind it's own business on the burner and be able to cook on its own. This is that dish.

Dal and Rice Pongal

   In a heavy skillet or saucepan, dry roast 1 cup of rice for about 5 minutes. Set it aside
Dry roast 1/2 cup of moong dal for about 5 minutes. Set it aside.
Mix them together and put them in a pan or pot with:
  4 and 1/2 cups of water
  1/2 tsp of turmeric
Bring the whole thing to a boil. Let it boil for about 15 minutes.
Turn down the heat, put a cover on the pan and let it cook for another 40 minutes or so until the rice is soft. When it's done, don't drain it, just set it aside.
Meanwhile, make a spice powder. In a spice blender or food processor, grind up:
 1 tsp of cumin seeds
 1 tsp black peppercorns
 Set the spice powder aside.
 In a small heavy skillet melt 2 Tbs of unsalted butter. When the butter is hot and foamy toss in:
 2 Tbs of cashews split in half
Saute them until they're lightly browned. Set them aside.
Once the rice and dal are done, heat 2 Tbs of unsalted butter in a small heavy pan and toss in:
 The ground cumin and peppercorns
 A 1 inch piece of grated fresh ginger
 4 or 5 curry leaves
 Saute them for about a minute, then add them to the rice and dal mixture, salt to taste, and finally sprinkle in 2 and 1/2 Tbs of grated or flaked unsweetened, dried coconut.
 Scatter the toasted cashews over the whole thing, sprinkle the dish with chopped fresh cilantro and serve it up.
 Add a couple of vegetable sides and a nice cooling raita and you're golden, just like this delicious rice and dal dish.
   Okay, a serving note. When carrying heavy clay pots filled with tasty food around, watch out for lolling huskies, like this one.
   Patsy has a bad habit of installing herself in the line of foot/food traffic. Here you can see her right behind my seat in the dining room. I always watch out when I'm carrying heavy or hot things around so that we don't have any accidents. I'm usually very careful. Except this evening. while carrying my laptop down the hall I wasn't paying attention. I thought I'd left Patsy back in our office, but she'd sneaked out and had decided to stretch herself across the hallway. I tripped over her and my laptop went up in the air. I caught it in what seemed like slow motion, and went sprawling down. Where did she go? She went running and I found her under our bed grinning up at me. I was relatively undamaged, my laptop in one piece. Another husky plot foiled, and I am here to tell the tale.


  1. Oh, I love the cashews in this - might be dinner for Friday! Glad you caught the laptop - that should be on tape!

  2. This looks delicious. Cilantro and cashews - two of my favorites. I'm forever tripping over our Golden Retriever...never far from the food.

  3. Holy crap, I am glad you caught your laptop! I am usually knee high in cats, so I know what you mean about having to watch your step. This is a nice dish -I love toasted cashews on anything!

  4. Very nice looking dish, aroma must be wonderful:)
    Kathy check out my new post...lovely biscotti,thanks:)

  5. Oh, this looks wonderful! I love cashews! :D

  6. Ar yes... dogs. they like to get into our way because they are our boss!

  7. @penny aka jeroxie,
    no kidding, I thought they were supposed to get up for us!! I feed her!

  8. @Trix,
    me too! I'm buying a new computer this week,but hey, my old one still works.

  9. @Belinda @zomppa,
    Thanks, it;s a great dish..and yes, i seemed to see myself as i floated through the air clutching my thanks to Patsy

  10. Dogs DO love to get in the way don't they? But they're always too cute to warrant any anger, anyway!

    This feast looks MAGNIFICENT!

  11. Nice Ven Pongal Receipe and step by step directions. Here is another version of Ven Pongal with coconut chutney . Would love to hear your feedback!

  12. @B@DesiGrub,
    thanks so much! Can't wait to try it

  13. Your dog sounds like my younger female dog. ALWAYS under my feet in the kitchen.

    I love all Indian rice pilaf/lentil combos, whatever you want to call this class of dish. It looks fabulous.

  14. I never thought meat less feast could be this mouth watering! Yummy....



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