I belong to Sourashtrian Community from Madurai which is popularly known as the “Pongals” 🙂 That’s the kind of relationship we share with this humble dish.
The story is no different in my house. We love our Pongal and it features in our menu atleast once a week. Normally, it is served with sambar, as it is the tradition in Tamil Nadu, occasionally with Chutney and rarely with Puliyogare Gojju (as my husband loves this combination).
Pongal is a simple rice and lentil based dish, tempered with some basic spices. It’s an awesome comfort food for us, especially on cold nights.
So, why is this called Pongal with a Twist? Well, the first twist is that it is made the way it is served in Karnataka, my husband’s home state as opposed to the regular Tamil Nadu style. When I first moved to Bangalore ten years ago, I got the shock of my life when I ordered Pongal at a restaurant. I wasn’t used to a watery Pongal served with Raita of all things!! Slowly, over the years, I acquired a taste for this style of Pongal and now, I love it, though not with Raita but on its own.
The second twist being that there is no rice in my Pongal today. It’s got Millet, Broken wheat and Oats, making it a healthier version of the typical rice based dish. We have been trying to incorporate millets into our diet as often as possible due to the better nutritional profile as compared to rice. The millet I have used today is Foxtail Millet or Thinai in Tamil. To this, I added some broken wheat and oats and made it a multi-grain dish.
The third twist being that I served it with “Loshto” which is a cross between a chutney and a pickle made with curry leaves and a traditional Sourashtrian dish from Madurai. Am glad I was in a very experimental mood today, otherwise I wouldn’t have discovered this combination! It was just made for each other and so comforting for a rainy day! 🙂
Since everyone knows to make Pongal, wouldn’t like to bother you with one more recipe and just like to mention a few notes.
1. Use any millet to make this in any combination with other grains or alone. I dry roasted the millet, dal, broken wheat, oats, all together until aromatic, washed thoroughly and pressure cooked them. Dry roasting the millet before cooking prevents it from clumping together.
2. I tempered with Jeera, crushed pepper, ginger, curry leaves and copra pieces (dried coconut) and hing in ghee and added it to the cooked grains and dal mix.
3. Since it is a Karnataka style pongal, it needs to be a bit watery. I used milk to dilute it.
1/2 Cup packed Curry leaves, washed and drained
4 Red Chillies, can adjust depending on heat
2 Tsp of Urad dal
A Marble sized piece of Tamarind
About 2.5 Tbsp of Oil, preferably Gingelly (Sesame) oil
Salt, to taste
1/4 Tsp of Mustard seeds and 1/4 Tsp of Urad dal and a pinch of hing or asafoetida to temper
1. Heat 1/2 Tbsp of oil in a pan. Fry the urad dal, red chillies and tamarind until the dal is golden and chillies swell up. Drain and set aside to cool.
2. In the same pan, add the curry leaves and fry with a bit of salt to help them crisp up faster. Let it cool.
3. Transfer all of the above to a mixie and grind to a smooth paste with some water.
4. Heat the remaining oil, add the ingredients to temper, pour the ground paste and a little water along and heat well, stirring it all the while. It will start thickening and coming together as a mass, leaving the sides of the pan. Adjust salt if necessary and switch off.
5. You can enjoy it straight away with Pongal, porridge or Kanji or anything you may please. It stores well in refrigerator for a week.