Ven Pongal, a delicious South Indian breakfast version of khichidi, made of moong dhal (green gram lentils) and rice, pressure cooked and tempered with cumin and pepper in ghee, garnished with coriander leaves and fried cashew nuts.
Roast the moong dal (green gram) in a tsp of ghee so that it darkens and you get the aroma of the dal and ghee (about a minute). It can easily catch at the bottom of the pan and burn, so keep stirring gently. Transfer the dal into a bowl and keep aside.
Rinse the rice 3-4 times till the water looks clear, add the dal and the water, salt and turmeric. Just a pinch of turmeric should do.
Pressure cook for 2 whistles. You want the pongal just soft, not mushy. Turn off the heat and let the cooker release pressure on its own.
Halve the cashewnuts.
Chop the curry leaves, chilli and ginger and coarsely grind the peppercorns. Reserve 2-3 peppercorns for the garnish.
Once the cooker is ready to be opened, heat half the ghee in a frying pan on a low flame. Fry the cashew nut halves till golden ( they always say this in recipes, but somehow mine turn a pinkish beige and then quickly get to a dark brown tinge 😒) remove the cashew from the pan and set aside.
Continuing with a low flame, fry the raisins in the remaining ghee for 10 secs and remove from the pan when they puff up.
To the ghee left over in the pan add jeera/ cumin seeds and sauté for 10 secs.
Add the pieces of chilli and let them scald all over.
Add ginger, sauté, add curry leaves and when the sputtering is done, add the ground pepper.
Open the pressure cooker and stir the rice dal mixture just once so that it combines well without getting mushy.
Temper with the fried jeera ginger pepper mixture along with the ghee it was fried in.
Melt the balance ghee ( reserved in step 6) and add to the Pongal, stir gently so that the ghee mixes with the Pongal.
Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the fried cashew and raisins and reserved peppercorns.
Serve with chutney and sambar