Author Notes: If Yogurt rice occupies the # 1 spot in a South Indian’s list of food faves, then ‘Venn Pongal’ is usually with in the top five list of comfort foods. Almost every South Indian reading this recipe probably has some story about a weekend brunch comprising of a large dollop of steaming hot & thick porridge of rice & tasted moong dal, with a side of crisp Medu Vada with an almost unlimited supply of tangy piquant Coconut chutney to go with it. The added bonus was licking the plate clean!
Back to Venn Pongal, as I said, Its a mix of well (even slightly overcooked) rice & moong dal ( which is the quickest cooking of all the lentils in the typical South indian pantry). The toasted lentils gives the final dish a subtle nutty flavor and that complements the rich aroma of melted ghee (clarified butter) that is used to finish the polenta. The dish is spiced with Cumin & black peppercorn and ginger & curry leaves round off the flavor profile.
This fusion offering combines comfort foods from 2 southern regions of the world, The US of A & India. —Panfusine
cup dehusked mung beans
cup white cornmeal grits
pinches turmeric powder
whole black peppercorns
teaspoon cumin coarsely powdered
teaspoon black pepper powder
inch fresh ginger root, finely grated
sprig curry leaves (torn & stem discarded)
Cashew nuts, broken up + some extra for garnish
Salt to taste
- In a skillet, toast the mung beans till they turn a golden brown & begin emitting a nutty aroma. add water to the skillet and partially cook the mung beans. remove from heat & set aside
- Combine the grits,partially cooked mung beans, water & turmeric cook till the water is absorbed & the consistency is that of a thick yet ever so slightly runny porridge.
- In a small skillet heat 1 tbsp of ghee and add the whole peppercorns. Stir for a minute before adding the other ingredients, except the remaining ghee.
- Stir well for a minute until the spices give off their characteristic aroma. Add to the polenta mixture and mix well till thoroughly combined. Finish with a tablespoon of ghee,
- Stir well & pour out into a greased pan. Leave to cool & set.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of ghee & toast the cashew nuts till golden. Garnish with these prior to serving.
- When the polenta sets, cut into triangles & garnish with the toasted cashews.
This dish is traditionally paired with a smoked eggplant relish known as ‘gothsu’