Ven Pongal / Ghee Pongal / Khara Pongal

Ven Pongal, Ghee Pongal or Khara Pongal is a traditional South Indian Breakfast Recipe and popular temple prasadam made with rice and lentils. It is also made during Pongal Festival in the month of January. Easiest breakfast recipe that can be made under 30 mins, can feed a crowd. Step by Step Recipe with tips to make best pongal at home.

Ven Pongal / Ghee Pongal / Khara Pongal

Please believe me, if I tell you that a spoonful of piping hot Ven Pongal with chutney is a gateway to Food Coma! Ask any South Indian, their choice of weekend breakfast and pat comes the reply – “Suda Suda” Ven Pongal, Gothsu and/or Thengai Chutney. Trust me there is no match when it comes to this humble comfort food from the South Indian Cuisine.

While Ven Pongal is a popular breakfast down South, it is specially made for Pongal or Thai Pongal (South Indian Harvest Festival) celebrated in the month of January every year.

With growing focus on health, many cook Pongal with Millets and/or Dalia too. Equally delicious but for me, nothing beats the taste of the Original, especially during festivals – The One made with short grain rice and lentils.

You can check out the recipe of Samba Godhumai Rava Pongal which is made with Samba Wheat Dalia or Cracked Wheat.

About Pongal Festival

  • Pongal is one of the most important festivals celebrated in South India. The festival is dedicated to the Hindu Sun God, “Surya” and also marks the beginning of Uttarayana (the 6 month transition phase of the Sun Northwards).
Restaurant Style Ven Pongal
Pongal Festival dedicated to Surya Dev or Sun God
  • Along with South India, this day is celebrated as Makar Sankranti in Western parts like Maharashtra and Gujrat, Lohri in Punjab amongst Hindus and Sikhs and Bihu by the Assamese Community.
  • The name “Pongal” means boiling over or overflowing. In olden days, when space was not a constraint and it was the age of “joint families”, Pongal festival was celebrated in a huge courtyard. They would purchase new vessels or Ponga Pannai that are usually mud / clay vessels and cook over a chulha.
  • But now a days, its mostly steel or brass utensils. Tieing of the fresh turmeric plant around the vessel is a must and drawing figurines of “sun” and “moon” with a chuna / limestone paste, signifying the importance of the sun and moon in our life.
Our ancestral 100 plus year old Ponga Paanai that is tied with fresh turmeric leaf and has rice cooking on Pongal Dal
  • Rice is cooked in the vessel and is allowed to pour over or pongu with all the members in the background shouting Pongal O Pongal. The rice is then cooked and served to all as part of lunch. Sweet and Savory i.e. Sakkarai Pongal and Ven Pongal both are made.

In India, no festival is complete without some food attached to it. The sharing of food and sweets strengthens our bonds, in our otherwise busy lives.

While North Indians take pride in their humble Dal Khichdi, Ven Pongal is the South Indian equivalent.

This is a no fuss breakfast, just soak the rice and lentils, dump it in a pressure cooker, prepare a tempering and just mix, eat piping hot (very important). If you have no time for accompaniments, it can be just eaten as it is too.

Ven Pongal is a breakfast that attracts all age groups. Also a popular temple prasadam. If you wonder how can anyone eat rice for breakfast, well let me tell you, Pongal is usually served in a small portion because it is cooked entirely in ghee and has nuts too.

Temple Style Ven Pongal
Ven Pongal – A Popular Temple Prasadam in South India

Ven Pongal Ingredients and Preparation Style

  • Pongal consists of two main ingredients – Rice and Lentils (Yellow Moong Dal or Pasi Paruppu in Tamil) along with select ingredients like Cumin Seeds, Black Pepper (aids digestion and helps with seasonal change), ginger and curry leaves.
  • One thing you shouldn’t compromise is Ghee. Ghee or Clarified butter makes the Pongal so delicious and no matter who tells you, never skip Ghee for Oil.
  • The consistency of Pongal depends on you. The recipe that I share today is the perfect consistency served in restaurants and also as temple prasadam.
  • Like Khichdi, people prefer making Pongal slightly runny too, especially when down with fever or cold to simply slurp and eat. For runny consistency, add water accordingly, while pressure cooking. Check Additional Tips Section below for more details.

In restaurants, especially in South India, Pongal is served with a Vadai or Medu Vada accompanied by Sambar and Chutney. For Weddings, Pongal is usually served with Kathrikkai Gothsu which is a spicy, tangy gravy with eggplants and freshly ground masala.

Everyone has their favourites when it comes to accompaniments. Mine is the gothsu and chutney while Narayan favors the Sambar and Chutney combo. For our wedding, we had Pongal as part of breakfast, which was served with Sambar, Gothsu, Chutney all 3 accompaniments as we both wanted it that way. Win Win I say!

Ven Pongal Served with chutney and filter coffee
Piping hot Ven Pongal with Thengai Chutney and Filter Coffee – Life is Good!

Tips for Best Pongal Recipe

  • I add the ginger while cooking the lentils and rice, making the dish truly aromatic. Usually it is added as part of tempering.
  • I add peppercorns at two stages and in 2 ways – One is I mildly roast and then coarsely pound it while the other, I prefer adding as a whole, while tempering. You have to bite the peppercorn while chewing the rice and lentils, tastes phenomenal.
  • Adding salt while pressure cooking rice and lentils which enables even seasoning.

Step by Step Ven Pongal or Ghee Pongal Recipe

  • Measure 1 cup (1 cup is 125 ml) and Dry roast (low flame) pasi paruppu or Yellow Moong Dal until you get a nice aroma. Do not roast too much or brown the dal. Keep aside for cooling.
  • Now measure 1 cup (1 cup is 125 ml) of rice. Wash both the rice and the roasted dal couple of times and soak them in some water for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, rinse the water used for soaking, add 4 ½ cups of water, salt to taste and grated ginger. Cover and pressure cook this until the rice and dal are mushy.
  • Dry roast peppercorns (30 peppercorns) and then coarsely pound them in a mortar and pestle.
  • Roughly chop the cashews and keep aside.
  • Once the pressure cooking is complete, release the pressure, remove the lid and slightly mash the rice and lentils using the back of your spoon (important step to be done when the rice and dal is hot).
  • Prepare the tempering by heating a small tempering pan, add ghee followed by cumin seeds, whole peppercorns, cashews and curry leaves. Add the tempering to the mashed dal and rice, along with the coarsely pounded black pepper. Mix well and serve immediately.

The Recipe is made with gluten Free ingredients – Rice and Dal. However, hing or asafoetida is added here. You can skip the same for gluten free version. It is not, however, Vegan as it contains Ghee or Clarified butter.

Side Dish or Accompaniments for Ven Pongal

  • Thakkali Chutney (Spicy Tangy Tomato Chutney) that tastes really good with hot Pongal. Since the chutney has shallots, the combination is a perfect weekend breakfast.
  • Kothamalli Chutney – Instead of simple coconut chutney, you can add some coriander leaves and make it more aromatic.
  • Pudina Chutney – Mint leaves and lentils chutney go superbly well with Pongal. Brings out a burst of flavors in your mouth and the mint aids in digestion too.

Additional Tips

  • You can adjust the quantities of Pepper, Cumin and ginger according to your taste and preferences.
  • I usually make Pongal with equal portions of rice and dal as I love the soft texture.
  • Short Grain Rice Variety is a key to good Ven Pongal. Do not substitute with Basmati as the aroma of ghee is more important here than the rice. Any short grain variety like Sona Masuri, Kolam, Ponni are great for this recipe.
  • You can make this recipe using brown rice too. The amount of soaking time and water would slightly increase.
  • Water quantity for pressure cooking depends on the desired consistency of Ven Pongal. Some like it in a porridge consistency while others prefer the restaurant style consistency, the one I share here. I make it depending on when we are eating this.
  • For breakfast usually I follow this process and water quantity whereas if I am sick and need comfort food, I add additional 1 1/2 glass of water and make it liquid consistency for easy consumption like a chunky soup.
Ven Pongal

Ven Pongal / Ghee Pongal or Khara Pongal

Ven Pongal, Ghee Pongal or Khara Pongal is a traditional South Indian Breakfast Recipe and popular temple prasadam made with rice and lentils. It is also made during Pongal Festival in the month of January. Easiest breakfast recipe that can be made under 30 mins, can feed a crowd. Step by Step Recipe with tips.
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Course: Breakfast, brunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, South Indian, Tamil Nadu Recipes
Keyword: Ghee Pongal, Khara Pongal, Restaurant Style Ven Pongal, Temple Style Ven Pongal, Ven Pongal Recipe, Ven Pongal Recipe in Pressure cooker
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Soaking the lentils: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 3 people

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Rice (1 cup is 125 ml measurement) Check Notes below
  • 1 cup Yellow Moong dal or Pasi Paruppu (1 cup is 125 ml)
  • 4 1/2 cups Water for Pressure Cooking Extra as required for soaking
  • 1 tsp Grated ginger
  • 30 nos. Black Peppercorns (Roasted and Crushed coarsely) See Notes Below
  • Salt to taste
  • FOR TEMPERING
  • 2 tbsp Ghee or Clarified Butter
  • 10 nos Black Peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp Jeera or Cumin Seeds
  • 7 nos. Cashews (roughly chopped)
  • Curry Leaf Sprig
  • A pinch of Asafoetida or Hing

Instructions

  • Measure 1 cup (1 cup is 125 ml) of dal and Dry roast (low flame) pasi paruppu or Yellow Moong Dal until you get a nice aroma. Do not brown the dal. Keep aside for cooling.
  • Now measure 1 cup (1 cup is 125 ml) or rice. Wash both the rice and the roasted moong dal, couple of times and soak them in some water for 15 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes, rinse the water used for soaking, add 4 ½ cups of water, salt to taste and grated ginger. Cover and pressure cook this until the rice and dal are mushy.
  • Dry roast peppercorns (30 nos.) and then coarsely pound them in a mortar and pestle.
  • Roughly chop the cashews and keep aside.
  • Once the pressure cooking is complete, release the pressure, remove the lid and slightly mash the rice and lentils using the back of your spoon (important step to be done when the rice and dal is hot).
  • Prepare the tempering by heating a small tempering pan, add ghee followed by cumin seeds, whole peppercorns, cashews and curry leaves. Add the tempering to the mashed dal and rice, along with the coarsely pounded black pepper. Mix well and serve immediately.

Notes

Tips for Best Pongal Recipe

  • I add the ginger while cooking the lentils and rice, making the dish truly aromatic. Usually it is added as part of tempering.
  • I add peppercorns at two stages and in 2 ways – One is I mildly roast and then coarsely pound it while the other, I prefer adding as a whole, while tempering. You have to bite the peppercorn while chewing the rice and lentils, tastes phenomenal.
  • Adding salt while pressure cooking rice and lentils which enables even seasoning.
Notes
  • You can adjust the quantities of Pepper, Cumin and ginger according to your taste and preferences.
  • I usually make Pongal with equal portions of rice and dal.
  • Short Grain Rice Variety is a key to good Ven Pongal. Do not substitute with Basmati as the aroma of ghee is more important here than the rice. Any short grain variety like Sona Masuri, Kolam, Ponni are great for this recipe. I have used Kolam Rice.
  • You can cook Pongal using brown rice too. The amount of soaking time and water would slightly increase.
  • Water quantity for pressure cooking depends on the desired consistency of Ven Pongal. Some like it in a porridge consistency while others prefer the restaurant style consistency, the one I share here.
  • I make it depending on when we are eating this. For breakfast usually I follow this process and water quantity whereas if I am sick and need comfort food, I add additional 1&1/2 glass of water and make it liquid consistency for easy consumption like a chunky soup

Interested in South Indian Temple Prasadam Recipes? Try This!

This post has been revised (originally posted in January 2018) with step by step pictures, photos and plenty of tips.

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Vidya Narayan

Views: 1911

Vidya Narayan

Hi Everyone, I am Vidya Narayan & Welcome to my blog MasalaChilli. Born in a Traditional Palakkad Iyer (South Indian) Family with strong value systems to an exceptionally strong and independent Single Mom, spent most of my childhood studying well (as most Iyer girls do).

This Post Has 25 Comments

    1. Thanks dear. Wishing you and family a very happy Makar Sankranti.

  1. This looks so lipsmackingly delicious! Love to dig a spoon into this…

    1. Thanks dear, This is South India’s response to Risotto, I always believe. Rich and creamy, every morsel tastes heavenly. Will definitely treat you the next time you visit home.

    1. Wishing you a happy Pongal / Makar Sankranti as well. Glad you liked the post!

  2. I had this pongal only once and I loved it…Now i have the recipe..will give it a try..lovely pictures..

    1. Simple ingredients make awesome food! Thank you so much!

  3. The husband and I love venn pongal. I make it slightly more runny, though, with just black pepper powder and no whole peppercorns. Your version looks great, too. 🙂

    1. I guess Ven Pongals for South Indians are always a fav. thank you so much for stopping by.

  4. Nearly 14 years ago when I had just moved to Bangalore with my daughter, after a long day of setting up the apartment and getting to know the area, the only thing available to eat at a nearby small take away was ven pongal. Had no idea what it was back then but we bought it anyway. Only thing I knew was it didn’t have meat and it was food. Whether we found it comforting because were we so hungry or because it was tasty, I don’t know.Ven Pongal is a healthy and filling dish.

    1. Glad it revived some old memories for you. In South India, people prefer to have rice as breakfast too. One small portion of ghee laden pongal is enough to keep you going throughout the day and it is nothing but simple ingredients in the pantry. When we are hungry, even the most simplest of meals is satisfying. Thank you so much dear. Your posts somehow reach my spam folder. Have to fix this!

    1. Welcome!

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