Creamy Ven Pongal (Rice and Lentil ‘Risotto’)

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on January 13, 2011

Tamil people of South India celebrate Pongal in January. During this harvest festival we combine two of south India’s staples, rice and lentils, into a luscious, comforting and creamy risotto like dish. The day of Pongal is one of worship and thanksgiving  where we make offerings to the Sun god and thank him for the year’s harvest. The day after pongal is maattu pongal, literally ‘cow pongal’, honoring cows and other working animals.

A Pongal Tradition

When I was a child, pongal was always a much anticipated festival day. We woke early, dressed up and headed downstairs to a smokey open wood fire. Two decorated brass pots of pongal would already be bubbling away – one sweet (with coconut, cardamom and jaggery), and one savory (recipe below).  My grandmother the matriarch, was in charge of making the pongal. My father would always scold her for using too much ghee in pongal, and the second he turned away, shed add another dollop!

Pongal in India – sweet and savory pongals in brass pots on an open fire in my grandmother’s house

The trick to a creamy pongal is to cook it in whole milk, rather than water. If you’d rather keep the dish light, substitute the milk with water. Remember that the amount of water you’ll need in this recipe will vary depending on the rice you are using.


 

More pongal recipes..

Chef in you’s pressure cooker pongal recipe

Ven pongal recipe by Archanas kitchen

Another ven pongal recipe on a life time of cooking blog

Kara pongal or khara pongal recipe using chillies and coconut on Aayi’s recipes

Creamy Ven Pongal Recipe

serves about 4

1 cup short grain rice (substitute with basmati)
½ cup split moong dal (mung beans)
½ teaspoon oil
4 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or butter
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
6oz fresh ginger, peeled
1/8 teaspoon asafoetida
4 curry leaves
3 cups whole milk
2 cups water
Salt
2 tablespoons cashewnuts, lightly roasted in a few drops of oil or ghee

Rinse and drain the rice and dal and set aside.

You will need to use a large, deep pot or saucepan for this recipe. If you use a small pot, the milk will boil over and make a mess.

Heat oil and ghee in the pot . Add mustard seeds to oil & ghee. When they splutter, add cumin and peppercorns, and stir 30 seconds. Cut the peeled ginger into 2 or 3 chunks. Add ginger chunks, asafetida, and curry leaves to the oil and stir about 30 seconds or till the ginger and curry leaves are fragrant.

Add the rinsed rice and dal, and stir well. Pour in the milk, water and salt and bring to a boil. If the milk begins to froth and boil over, stir it till it settles down.

Once the milk boils, reduce heat to low, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes. Stir occasionally so that the milk doesn’t boil over and make a mess.

Pongal is done when the rice is very soft and creamy. Depending on the rice you are using, cooking times may vary. You may also need to use more water, depending the rice you are using.

If most the liquid gets absorbed, but the rice still isn’t cooked, just add more water and continue cooking till rice is soft.

Serve hot, topped with roasted cashews and sambar on the side.

Happy Pongal!

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Comments

comments

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sharmilee January 13, 2011 at 1:50 am

Wow looks truely yummy….Perfect

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2 Priti January 13, 2011 at 2:20 am

Looks delish…I never added milk in ven pongal….shall try.

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3 Nithya January 13, 2011 at 2:42 am

WOW.. looks super yummy and appealing :) I have been having this pongal every morning for the past one month. Its the month of margazhi and this is served as the prasadam at the temple I visit everyday :) I’m drooling at the pics.

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4 Prerna@IndianSimmer January 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

Wow, that photography of pongal being cooked in pots is gorgeous! LOVE pongal!

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5 Monali January 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

These pics are absolutely amazing! Can’t wait to try this recipe!

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6 sally January 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

Looks so creamy and delicious!

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7 Manasi January 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

Happy Pongal / Sankranti to you!
I love sweet as well as savory Pongal. True comfort food and I SO agree with ur Grandmother, adding that extra dollop of ghee is just the thing:)

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8 satya January 13, 2011 at 8:41 am

ven pongal so yummy …. the pictures make it so tempting … with pongal right around the corner this pongal recipe looks so delicious…btw wish you a very happy pongal
Satya
Super Yummy Recipes

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9 Laavanya January 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

That looks so very good and creamy… I hardly make ven pongal in this consistency because Arun likes it on the drier side – looks so very tempting.
I always make with ponni raw rice.. have you used boiled rice?

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10 Katrina (gluten free gidget) January 13, 2011 at 4:38 pm

That looks so comforting!

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11 El January 13, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I found your blog accidentally, and I simply love it!
Thank you for the great recipes and advice on taking pictures, it was very helpful :)

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12 Oxter Infotech January 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Thanks for your pongal recipe for this 2011 pongal festival. We wish you all a very happy pongal and tamil new year :)

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13 Anu Menon January 13, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Pongal Aashamsagal Sala :)

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14 Plateful January 14, 2011 at 9:55 am

Hey Salsa, Happy Pongal!

I’m new to your blog but I have to say that your pics are incredible! I love your styling, use of props…and just about everything..! And oh your pointers on ways to improve food photography is so informative. I really appreciate all your efforts. Well done and keep going.

I’ve started my own food blog and I’d welcome your thoughts and suggestions, if any. Thank you.
-Nashi

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15 sangeeta January 15, 2011 at 8:58 am

I was in Chennai for two weeks and loved the different types of pongal there … this one is so like our khichdi .

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16 Viswa January 16, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Love the “Koni saaku” background.. Ingenious. Ever think of doing this professionally? You should create a portfolio..

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17 Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets January 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

You’ve reminded me of a downside of trying so many new recipes all the time — I rarely remake recipes I try, even if they’re fantastic. I made pongal 2 1/2 years ago and LOVED it but never remade it. Especially now that you’ve shared the secret to creamy results, I gotta give it another go!

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18 Oxter Infotech January 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

I did tried cooking pongal this time ya… came nice but not sure is it up to the mark as you said..

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19 pavithra January 19, 2011 at 11:09 am

Happy Pongal Sala !!! I do make exactly same way.. Love it so much. Pictures are gr8 asusual :)

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20 Cynthia January 20, 2011 at 9:36 pm

Oh that looks awesome!

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21 veggietestkitchen January 23, 2011 at 10:25 pm

wow, I’ve never heard of this dish (full disclosure: i’m an Indian). you could probably make it with soy milk, yah? it looks like the American dish grits. have you had those?

thanks for sharing. I’m glad you’re back to posting!

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22 yummymorsel January 26, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Wow, absolutley delicious. Just love pongal with all the ghee. Yummy!

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23 Jenny Holm February 3, 2011 at 11:30 am

I saw you at the food blogger happy hour last night but we never got a chance to talk. I realized I already follow you on Twitter (I’m @eatwithpleasure) and just discovered your blog via vegetarianirvana. I will be coming back often! You take stunning photos and your recipes are already inspiring thoughts of dinner. I hope to get a chance to speak in person at a future event!

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Thanks for your message, Jenny! So sorry we couldnt connect yesterday. But lets remedy that and do lunch or coffee soon!

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24 Kulsum at JourneyKitchen February 4, 2011 at 2:46 am

Love your pictures Sala. But that picture of cooking in pots on Pongal is so humbly reminding of the festival. Lovely recipe

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25 Akila March 3, 2011 at 4:57 pm

Love your Pongal pot pictures! My mom tried making hers this year on an electric stove and couldn’t get it to froth like it does with the gas stove.

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26 Binitha August 1, 2012 at 1:03 am

Hello Sala,

I tried your receipe for Ven Pongal/Risotto today. Needless to say, It was yummy..ilicious and creamy. Sajosh lovedddddd it. Cooking pongal with milk is a new knowledge for me. Thanks a bunch Sala for sharing family secrets:)

From Portland

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27 vidula January 21, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Love your pongal recipe.. I have tried so many other pongal recipes.. Your recipe is THE BEST! Thanks for sharing!!

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