I remember how my siblings and I thronged the Hanuman temple on all Saturdays, more out of the craving for the prasadam than out of devotion. The hot and spicy Ven Pongal imparted a special aroma when it was served in the dry banana leaf cups.
The prasadams (food distributed after offering it to the deity) at the temple of Lord Venkateswara at Tirupathi are relished with devotional fervor by one and all. The specially prepared Ven Pongal with a liberal amount of cashew nuts thrown in and dribbling with ghee is a covetable prasadam.
We had attended a feast at my mother’s place. After the Pooja, mother served the prasadam to one and all during the lunch. I was surprised to see my children lick away the prasadam – Ven Pongal- off the banana leaves, leaving the leaves clean and shiny !
Mother must have prepared the dish with great care and affection for it did taste awesome.
Ven Pongal is a very healthy and nourishing dish suitable for breakfast. With a chutney, raitha and a roasted papad it can make a sumptuous noon meal. Usually a spicy tamarind gravy is served with it.
Here is my mother’s recipe for a delicious and palatable Ven Pongal:
INGREDIENTSRice -1/2 tea cup or 125 gms.
Split green gram dal – ½ tea cup 0r 125 gms.
Cooking oil – 2 tsps
Salt - 1 ½ tsp
Cooking oil - 2 to 3 tsps.
Black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds - 2 tsps
Cashew nuts - as desired
Curry leaves - as desired
Asafoetida powder - 1 pinch
Grated fresh ginger -1 tsp
Fresh coconut gratings -1 tbsp
Ghee - 1 to 2 tbsp
1. Wash rice and dal together .
2. Add water and milk to the washed dal and rice and set in a cooker.
3. Add the split green chilly, salt and cooking oil.
4. Pressure cook until four whistles and allow it to cool.
5. Heat oil in a pan.
6. Add asafoetida, coarsely crushed black pepper and cumin seeds.
7. Add cashew nuts and roast until I turns golden in colour.
8. Add grated ginger, curry leaves and finally add the coconut gratings.
9. Remove from the stove and add this seasoning to the cooked Ven Pongal and stir well.
10. Ven Pongal is relished in a porridge like consistency. Cooked with less water or little oil makes it very hard.
11. Add a dollop of fresh ghee and let it melt on the hot pongal before serving.
12. Serve with chutney, raitha or gojju.