Sunday, June 1, 2014

Pongal for Brunch!

If you live in Tamil Nadu, you can't stay away from pongal. You don't need to! It is one of the most popular breakfast items, usually served with coconut chutney and sambar. Often a vada is thrown in to make it an irresistible combo...the soft pongal contrasted with the crisp vada. You can alternate between the two, giving your taste buds a rollicking time. Both are spicy, peppered with whole black peppercorns. Ginger and green chillies lend extra zest to them.

At home, we like to have pongal for brunch. It is a wholesome meal. My favourite accompaniments are a crisp roasted papad and a bowl of plain home-made curd. I am happy to share my recipe here. No claims of authenticity, though! I am sure every family has its own recipe with some variations. The ingredients are:

1 cup rice
1/2 cup yellow moong daal
Finely chopped or grated ginger(1-2 teaspoons)
Curry leaves (15-20)
Green chillies (2-3)
Roasted, coarsely ground cumin seeds(1/2 teaspoon)
Whole peppercorns (20-25)
Cashew nuts(10-12)
Ghee(1 tablespoon)
A pinch of asafoetida(hing)
Turmeric Powder(1/4 teaspoon)

Wash the rice and daal together and drain them nicely. Take ghee in a pan and fry the cashew nuts lightly in it. Keep them aside. Now put some hing,curry leaves, green chillies, peppercorns, finely chopped ginger and turmeric powder in the same ghee and add the washed rice-daal mixture to it. Roast it lightly. Add salt and coarsely ground cumin seeds. Transfer the contents to a pot which goes in your pressure cooker. Add 6 to 7 cups of water to the contents. Cook this in the pressure cooker as you normally cook khichadi. When cooked, garnish it with the lightly fried cashew nuts.

Pongal is supposed to be very soft and mushy. That is why the rice daal mixture:water ratio is 1:4 or 1:5. Enjoy it with your favourite accompaniments!

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