Khara or ven pongal is a rice lentil dish that is often prepared in south Indian homes to offer to GODS during puja. It is also a comfort food and is made often to enjoy with sambar or chutney. Instructions for stovetop & Instant pot included.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips.
1inchginger (peeled, grated or paste or sliced or chopped)
1sprig curry leaves
1green chilislit (optional, skip if offering to god)
How to make the recipe
Add ½ cup dal to a pot or pressure cooker.
Dry roast on a low to medium flame till it begin to smell nice & aromatic. Do not brown or discolor the moong dal. This step is optional however pongal gets a real aroma from the roasted dal.
Add ½ cup rice to the roasted dal. Wash them at least three times. Drain the water completely. Pour 3 to 3¼ cups water. Add ½ teaspoon salt. Cook the rice & dal to a soft texture.
For pressure cooking: If cooking directly in the pressure cooker, then cook for 2 to 3 whistles on a medium flame. If cooking in a bowl, then place it in the cooker and pressure cook for 4 whistles. When the pressure releases naturally, open the lid.
To cook in pot: You can also cook the rice & dal in a pot until soft & mushy. Add more water if needed as it cooks.
Open the cooker when the pressure drops. If you prefer, you can mash up the cooked rice & dal a bit to get creamy consistency. It should be mushy and soggy. If it is too dry, add some boiling water to bring it to a consistency you like. It should not be very runny or dry. Add more salt if needed and stir.
Making ven pongal
Heat a small pan with 2 tablespoons ghee. Split open 10 cashew nuts & fry them till golden. Remove these to a plate for garnish.
To the same pan, add ½ teaspoon cumin seeds & ½ teaspoon crushed pepper. When the seeds splutter, then add curry leaves, slit green chili (optional) & ginger. Saute well until the tempering turns aromatic & curry leaves turn crisp. Then add hing. We also add a pinch of turmeric & it is optional.
Pour this to the cooked pongal. Mix and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes so the flavors are absorbed. Serve ven pongal hot with coconut chutney or sambar.
Instant pot pongal
Rinse rice and dal a couple of times and drain the water. Press SAUTE button and pour ghee to the steel insert.
Fry the cashews until golden and remove them to a plate. Then add cumin seeds and crushed pepper.
When they splutter, add ginger, curry leaves, green chili (optional) and hing. Saute for 30 seconds.
Then add turmeric, moong dal and rice. Saute for 2 to 3 mins until the moong dal begins to smell good.
Pour 3 cups water and add half teaspoon salt. Deglaze the pot by scrubbing the bottom with a spatula.
Press CANCEL button and secure the instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release valve to sealing.
Next press PRESSURE COOK button and set the timer for 9 mins. When the IP is done, it beeps. Let the pressure release naturally.
Stir and taste test. Add more salt if needed. If the consistency is too thick, pour some hot water & give a good mix. Garnish ven pongal with more hot ghee and fried cashews.