Pongalo Pongal!! Pongalo Pongal! Wish you all a very happy Pongal / Sankranthi / Uttarayana / Lohri / Magh Bihu!
Don’t you love the festive spirit around any Indian festival? I do. And I particularly love the way the local markets overflow with bountiful veggies, fruits, banana leaves, flowers, fresh mango leaves and other items ethnic to each festival. Now for pongal, we have sugarcane shoots being sold everywhere in addition to all the other stuff…all of this makes for one heady aroma during a visit to the market. Each vendor shouting out his/her rate to try and attract as many buyers as possible, people making a beeline everywhere, bargaining to get the best deals, their shopping bags full to the brim while they still manage to stuff things in as they shop along…No mall, no supermarket, no air-conditioned, organised shopping experience can equal this infectious festive environment of the local market place, and even if I have to elbow my way every time I shop for all the necessities during festivals, I will do it time and again, because I simply love the experience! If you would like to read about the festival and a little about the rituals, lookie here.
This year, I’m making the sweet and savoury versions of Pongal as always, but with a small twist to the savoury version – I’m using red rice instead of the usual white rice. Since I’m still on my weight-loss program, we try to eat as healthy as possible. I don’t want to fiddle with the meagre amount of Chakkara pongal I’m going to make ‘cos the hubby doesnt really have a sweet tooth, which leaves only me and the Chakkara pongal (in the midst of my diet, but my sweet tooth won’t let me make compromises here). However, I knew Venn pongal would definitely work with red rice. I tried this for breakfast last month, and we really liked it. The hubby even said that I should make only red-rice venn pongal henceforth. That was incentive enough for me to jump and ask “Can I make this even for the festival next month?”, to which he nodded his head in approval. As you can see, I truly believe in the saying ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach’, so I always make sure I’m headed in the right direction 😉 Our man was so in love with the new variation of pongal that he even offered to help me take pics of it for the blog. Considering that he is otherwise quite oblivious of what’s happening on the blog, that was quite something. I recently switched to a DSLR camera, and ever since, whenever I settle down for a photo shoot with my food, he comes running pronto to see how the pics are turning out, and to also give me some ‘expert advice’. See how a camera can bring about a change of heart! 😉
So here is my healthy version of Venn pongal for you lot this year. For something that’s healthy, it definitely tastes just as good. However, if you’re still looking for the recipe of the regular Venn pongal, you can find it here. And the recipe for Chakkara Pongal/Sweet Pongal is here. My Chakkara Pongal recipe has been featured this week on the ‘The Jerusalem Post‘, a pretty popular online English daily. The article can be found here.
Red-rice Venn Pongal
- Red-rice – 1 measure
- Moong Dal (split) – 1/4 measure
- Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
- Jeera/Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
- Pepper – 10-15 corns; coarsely pounded/powdered with 1 tbsp jeera (alter to suit your taste; I like it a little fiery)
- Salt – to taste
- Ghee – 1-2 tbsps (feel free to use more if you feel like making it rich; I save the make-it-rich bit for Chakkara Pongal!)
- Cashew – 10-12 pieces
- Water – as required, for pressure-cooking the rice and dal (I normally add slightly more water while cooking rice and dal for my pongal, because I like the consistency of my pongal to be like that of porridge).
- Slightly dry-roast the moong dal for 2 minutes, till fragrant. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- Pressure-cook the rice and roasted moong dal along with a pinch of asafoetida and adequate water till done. Set aside. (Red rice takes a tad bit longer to get done as compared to regular white rice, so keep a watch on that cooker).
- In a wok, heat 1 tbsp ghee. Roast the cashew till golden brown, remove from the hot ghee and set aside.
- To the ghee in the wok, add a pinch of asafoetida. Add the jeera and allow to splutter.
- Add the cooked rice-dal mixture. You may want to add some warm water to adjust the consistency if it is too thick.
- Add the coarsely powdered pepper corns and jeera, and salt. Stir well.
- Add the remaining tbsp of ghee. Allow to cook on a medium flame for 2-3 minutes and remove from flame.
- Garnish with roasted cashew. Serve hot with a generous dollop of ghee for that extra special taste.