Ven pongal - a savory rice and moong dal porridge seasoned with lots of black peppercorns and ghee. It is a comfort food, a filling meal and offering to deity. Ven pogal is also called khara pongal or katte pongal.
Pongal is a popular breakfast from Indian state of Tamil Nadu. There are two versions of pongal; ven pongal the savory version and sakkarai pongal the sweet version. Savory version is one of the most common breakfast items in Tamil Nadu, besides idli, dosa and vada.
Both khara pongal and sakkarai pongal are common preparation during Sankranti/Pongal festival and also as offering to goddess during Dhanurmasam, a month leading up to Sankranti.
Katte pongal is usually served with tiffin sambar and coconut yogurt chutney. Though pongal is a common breakfast preparation in South India, it is a fuss free, easy lunch and dinner preparation as well.
- Rice - use any short grain rice such as sona masoori or ponni raw rice. If you do not have these, use basmati or any rice that you have on hand.
- Moong Dal - roast dal on medium flame until light golden color. Highly recommend this step for flavorful pongal. Dal should be 1-2 shades lighter than in the ingredient shot.
- Black Peppercorn - use whole peppercorns and roast them in tempering to mellow down the sharp spice. If you can not take the eat of whole peppercorns, coarsely crush pepper.
- Butter or Ghee - be as liberal as you can to take the taste of pongal to a next level. You can add 2-3 teaspoons extra butter than mentioned in the recipe.
- Other Ingredients - cashew nuts, green chilies, ginger, curry leaves, oil, cumin, asafetida and turmeric.
Easy method to cook this rice lentil porridge is to use a pressure cooker and the fastest is Indian pressure cooker. When not pressed for time, my go to appliance is Instant Pot pressure cooker. I have instructions for both the cookers and also the saucepan method.
There are two steps in this preparation, rather three steps. First roast dal until golden brown. Cook rice and dal to a very soft consistency and finish it off with a tempering. This is the method I prefer and recommend.
However, you can also make it a one pot dish by preparing tempering and cooking dal and rice in the same pot, and finishing it off by drizzling generous amount of butter on the top.
Instant Pot Recipe
For ease of convenience, I prefer Instant Pot pressure cooker over stovetop pressure cooker. Preparation is similar even for stovetop method. Regardless of which method you choose, first step is to roast moong dal.
Roast moong dal in a pan on medium flame, until dal is light golden brown. Color of the dal could change a shade or two in a matter of seconds. Hence, immediately transfer to a plate and let cool.
Wash roasted dal and rice, pressure cook with 1:4 rice+dal to water ratio in Instant Pot. Cook on manual/pressure cook mode for 6 minutes and let pressure release manually. Open the lid and mash using back of a spoon.
Roast broken cashews in some ghee and keep aside.
To the same ghee pan, add oil and roast black peppers for a few seconds until peppers change color.
Then add ginger, green chilies, cumin, curry leaves and let these roast for a few seconds (above pic). Add turmeric powder, asafetida, mix and remove from fire.
Pour the tempering over cooked rice dal mixture, add roasted cashews, remaining ghee, salt and mix it all together.
If pongal consistency is too runny select saute mode and simmer for few minutes. If it is too thick, add somme water and cook on saute for few minutes.
Stovetop (Pressure Cooker & Saucepan) Recipe
Preparation is similar to electric pressure cooker method mentioned above. Roast moong dal on medium flame until light golden color and cool completely. Wash dal and rice and take 1:4 rice+dal to water.
Indian Pressure Cooker - cook rice and dal for 4 whistles or until rice and dal are soft and mushy. In my Hawkins cooker, 4 whistles works just fine. Let the pressure release naturally.
Saucepan or a vessel - take washed rice, dal and water in a sauce pan. Once the rice mixture comes to a boil, reduce the flame to medium or medium low and cook half covered until the mixture is soft and mushy. Add more water, if required. This will easily take at last 30 minutes.
Roast cashew nuts in ghee and keep aside. Prepare a tempering by roosting peppercorns, sautéing green chilies, ginger, and curry leaves. Check recipe card below for detailed tempering instructions.
Pour tempering over cooked rice and dal, add cashews, salt and remaining butter and mix well.
One Pot Dish
- In Instant Pot, on sauté mode roast moong dal. If using stovetop pressure cooker or a saucepan, roast dal in it. Transfer to a bowl and cool. You can skip this step if you wish.Wash dal and rice.
- Then take some ghee, roast cashews and keep aside.
- Add oil to the ghee and prepare tempering. If you have not roasted moong dal, already, roast it now, in the tempering and then add rice. If you already did it, add washed rice and dal.
- Take 1:4 rice + dal to water ration and pressure cook. In Instant Pot, cancel sauté mode, pressure cook on manual/pressure for 6 minutes and 4 whistles in Indian pressure cooker.
- Let the pressure release naturally. Mix well, to make it mushy, add salt, cashews and some ghee. Give a proper stir and serve hot.
- I do not recommend following one pot dish method when cooking in a saucepan, though you can follow the above steps if you wish to. Washing an extra pan tadka (tempering) pan should not be a hassle when you painstakingly baby sat the saucepan cooking rice dal mixture!!
- Highly recommend dry roasting dal before cooking.
- Use whole peppercorn and roast them properly in tempering to reduce the spice level. If you can not eat whole peppercorns, use half whole and half coarsely crushed peppers.
- Be generous with ghee. You can add more ghee than mentioned in the recipe card.
Store leftovers in the fridge for 1-2 days. Reheat in microwave oven or on stovetop, in a pan. Pongal will thicken when refrigerated. Sprinkle some water if required, when reheating.
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This post was originally published in Sep 2015. Post is updated with new content and images.
Ven Pongal ~ Khara Pongal
- 1 Instant Pot
- 1 Frying Pan
- 1 Spatula or a Spoon for mixing
- 1 Knife & Cutting Board
- ½ cup Rice
- ¼ cup Moong Dal
- 3 cups Water
- 6 whole Cashew Nuts broken into 2-4 pieces
- 2 tablespoon unsalted Butter or Ghee
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoon Oil
- 2 Green Chilies
- ½ teaspoon Black Peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon Ginger finely chopped
- 4 Curry Leaves
- ¼ teaspoon Hing ~ asafetida
- Pinch of turmeric
- Roast moong dal in a pan, on medium flame until dal is light golden brown. Once the pan is hot, color of the dal changes color in seconds. Hence, immediately transfer to a plate and let cool.
- Wash roasted dal and rice. Use 3 cups of water, 1:4 rice+dal to water ratio.
- Take rice, dal and water in inner pot of Instant Pot. Cook on manual/pressure cook mode for 6 minutes and let pressure release manually. Open the lid and mix rice dal mixture to make it mushy.
- For stovetop pressure cooker and saucepan instructions, check in post instructions above the recipe card or check the notes below.
- In a pan take some ghee and roast broken cashews until light golden in color and keep aside.
- In the same pan, add oil to prepare tempering. First roast black peppers for a few seconds until peppers change color. This is important to mellow down the spice level of peppercorns.
- Then add ginger, green chilies, cumin, curry leaves and let these roast for a few seconds.
- Add turmeric powder, asafetida , mix and remove from fire.
- Wash rice and moong dal, cook in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water for 4 whistles, until rice and dal are soft and mushy.
- Pour the tempering over cooked rice dal mixture, add roasted cashews, remaining ghee, salt and mix it all together.
- Let the pressure release naturally.
- Take some butter in a pan and roast cashews until golden brown. Remove from butter and keep aside.
- In the same pan add oil and add tempering ingredients except turmeric.. Fry for a few minutes until green chilies change color and ginger is lightly roasted.
- Add turmeric powder and remove from the fire.
- Pour tempering over cooked rice dal mixture, add cashews, remaining butter or ghee and give a good stir.
- Serve hot with sambar & chutney.
- Indian Pressure Cooker - cook rice and dal for 4 whistles or until rice and dal are soft and mushy. In my Hawkins cooker, 4 whistles works just fine. Let the pressure release naturally. For more detailed instructions, check stovetop instructions above.
- Saucepan or a vessel - cook washed rice and dal in 4 times the water the quantity of rice+dal. Once the rice mixture comes to a boil, reduce the flame to medium or medium low and cook half covered until the mixture is soft and mushy. Add more water, if required. This will easily take at last 30 minutes.
- One Pot Dish - the details in above.
- Roasting Dal - highly recommend dry roasting dal before cooking.
- Peppercorns - use whole peppercorn and roast them properly in tempering to reduce the spice level. If you can not eat whole peppercorns, use half whole and half coarsely crushed peppers.
- Ghee - be generous with ghee. You can add more ghee than mentioned in the recipe card.