Rava Kesari Recipe| How To Make Kesari Bath

What is Rava Kesari?

Rava Kesari, a sweet treat made using rava (aka sooji or semolina), is one of the most commonly prepared desserts in South India. Also called, simply, Kesari or Kesari Bath, it is almost always present as part of the lunch/dinner platter on festivals like Diwali and Navratri, poojas, weddings and other religious and social occasions. You will find this dish occupying pride of place in several restaurants in Tamilnadu and Karnataka, too. There is no wondering why this dish is so hugely popular – fragrant and delicious, gooey with ghee, well-made Rava Kesari is a shortcut to heaven (in a good way!), especially when served piping hot.

Is Rava Kesari different from Sheera and Sooji Ka Halwa?

Rava Kesari is similar to the Sooji Ka Halwa or Sheera of North India, but there are subtle differences. Rava Kesari is softer and less dry than Sheera. The colour of both is different too – Rava Kesari has a pretty, orange hue (all thanks to food colouring!) as opposed to the natural brown shade of the Sheera. Fruits like pineapple and mango are often added to Rava Kesari, to make it more flavourful and delicious.

Home-made Rava Kesari with no artificial colours

The version of Rava Kesari we make at home, however, has lesser ghee than its restaurant counterparts. It is also free of synthetic food colouring; I use saffron to give it a beautiful yellow hue. It isn’t exactly a guilt-free indulgence, but a hot favourite at home and I make it quite often. I love how easy it is to make – it just takes 15-20 minutes from start to finish!

How to make Kesari Bath or Rava Kesari, my way

Today, I am going to share with you how to make Kesari Bath from scratch, my way. You must try out this fuss-free dessert this Diwali, if you haven’t already.

Here we go.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1/2 cup fine rava (semolina or sooji)
  2. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons ghee
  3. 2-1/2 cups water
  4. 2 pinches of saffron (kesar) threads
  5. 13/4 cup sugar or to taste
  6. 10-12 cashewnuts
  7. 1 tablespoon raisins
  8. 2 pinches of cardamom powder

Method:

1. Chop the cashewnuts roughly. Keep ready.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the rava, and turn the flame down to low-medium.

3. Saute the rava in the ghee till it becomes nice and aromatic, keeping the flame low-medium. This should take 6-7 minutes. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn.

4. While the rava is cooking, take the water in another pan. Place on high flame and add in the strands of saffron. Let the water come to a rolling boil, then turn the flame down to low-medium.

5. When the rava is done sauteeing, slowly add it to the hot water in the other pan, stirring constantly to prevent the formation of lumps.

6. Keep cooking on low-medium heat till most of the water has been absorbed by the rava, 3-4 minutes.

7. Add sugar to the pan. Mix well. Continue cooking on low-medium heat till the mixture begins to leave the sides of the pan. This should take 3-4 minutes. Stir intermittently.

8. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins. Turn flame down to low-medium. Let the cashewnuts start browning and the raisins plump up. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. When done, pour the ingredients over the rava mixture cooking in the other pan. Mix well.

9. Cook everything together till the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan, as stated above. Switch off gas when the mixture is still runny – do not overcook it. Your Rava Kesari is ready! Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fine sooji or rava (rather than the bigger, coarser type), for best results.

2. Adjust the quantity of sugar as per personal taste preferences.

3. You may increase the quantity of ghee you use. The above quantity was just perfect for us.

4. Make sure you saute the rava well in ghee, otherwise the kesari might have a ‘raw’ feel to it. You don’t have to brown the rava – just cook it till it starts emanating a nice fragrance.

5. You can use milk instead of water, in the above Rava Kesari recipe. Alternatively, you may use a mix of half water and half milk. I prefer using only water.

6. Make sure the cashewnuts and raisins do not get burnt, while frying them up.

7. Do not overcook the Rava Kesari. Just cook till it starts leaving the sides of the pan. Overcooking might make the kesari dry.

8. Orange food colour can be used in the above Rava Kesari recipe too. I have coloured the kesari naturally, though, using saffron.

9. Keep the Rava Kesari a bit runny, as it hardens quite a bit on cooling.

10. There’s a bit of multi-tasking involved in the making of this dish, as you can see from the above Rava Kesari recipe. Movements have to be quick so as to arrive at the perfect end result. It is best to keep handy all the ingredients needed to make the Rava Kesari.

11. The Rava Kesari is, mostly, cooked on low-medium heat. Regular stirring is essential, to get a lump-free, delicious Rava Kesari.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Aval Mixture| Low-Oil Poha Chivda

I hope you are gearing up to celebrate Diwali. I can’t believe it’s already time for the big festival, but it is! We have been busy cooking up various sweet and savoury dishes in preparation for Diwali, which arrives this weekend. Today, I present to you our family recipe for one of these Diwali-special foods – Aval Mixture aka Poha Chivda, a delicious snack made using beaten rice.

A bit of background about Diwali

Before we get to that, though, let me talk a bit about Diwali, for those readers who aren’t acquainted with it. Popularly called the Festival of Lights, Diwali is a Hindu festival that celebrates the return of Lord Rama with his wife Seeta to Ayodha, having won a hard-earned victory over Ravana. It is one of India’s biggest festivals, signifying the victory of good over evil, of light over darkness.

There are small variations in the way Diwali is celebrated in the various states of India, but the over-arching beliefs are more or less the same. Diwali means shopping, new clothes, dressing up to the hilt, lighting lamps, getting together with friends and family, prayers, gifts, bursting crackers, loads of food, spreading love and good cheer all around.

In Tamilnadu, Diwali day (or Deepavali, as it is called) sees families rising as early as 4 a.m. for a rejuvenating oil massage and bath, which is followed by the wearing of new clothes and jewellery. Then, it is time to head out to burst crackers, closely followed by a special lunch. The evening is spent meeting friends and family, serving and eating the sweets and snacks painstakingly prepared in the few days before Diwali. 7-Cup Cake, Rava Kesari, Omapudi, Aval Mixture, Ribbon Pakoda, Murukku, Kasi Halwa and Payasam are some dishes commonly prepared in our family for Diwali.

Aval Mixture or Poha Chivda

Aval Mixture or Poha Chivda is prepared using beaten rice or poha, and we make it with the minimal use of oil. There is no deep-frying involved, which makes this a relatively guilt-free festival snack. The cashewnuts and raisins, groundnuts and jaggery, that are added in make the mixture rich and special.

This Aval Mixture is slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and just the right amount of salty – making it a burst of flavours. It is a completely vegetarian preparation, suitable to those following a vegan or plant-based diet. If you are using gluten-free asafoetida (without any wheat flour added to it), this Aval Mixture recipe is gluten-free as well. In case you aren’t able to get hold of gluten-free asafoetida, you can just skip it altogether too, without any significant change in the taste of the dish.

Our family recipe for Aval Mixture, for #DiwaliDhamaka

Here’s how the Aval Mixture is made in our family. I share this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group, which is showcasing Diwali-special foods this week. Yes, the group theme this week is – #DiwaliDhamaka!

Ingredients (makes 3 cups):

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 3 cups medium-thick beaten rice (poha or aval)
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  5. 1/2 tablespoon red chilli powder or to taste
  6. 2-3 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

For the tempering:

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 1 tablespoon raisins
  4. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  5. 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  6. 4-5 dry red chillies
  7. 10-12 cashewnuts, halved
  8. 1-1/2 tablespoons groundnuts

Method:

1. Dry roast the groundnuts on medium flame till crisp. Ensure that they don’t get burnt. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.

2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the beaten rice.

3. Keep stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes, keeping the flame low-medium, or till the beaten rice gets nice and crisp. Do not overcook the beaten rice, or it will become too hard. Take care to ensure that the beaten rice doesn’t burn.

4. Transfer the fried beaten rice to a large mixing bowl or vessel.

5. Now, we will prepare the tempering. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan. Add in the mustard, and allow them to pop. Turn the flame down to medium. Add in the raisins, curry leaves, asafoetida, dry red chillies, halved cashewnuts and dry-roasted groundnuts. Mix gently. Fry these ingredients on medium flame, till the cashewnuts start browning, the curry leaves get crisp and the raisins puff up. Stir constantly. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Switch off gas.

6. Add salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and jaggery powder to the beaten rice. Mix gently but well, using your hands. Ensure that the seasonings are evenly distributed through the beaten rice.

7. Now, pour the tempering over the beaten rice. Mix it in, using a spatula. Your Poha Chivda is ready to use! Allow it to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container.

Tips and tricks

1. I have used regular refined oil and medium-thick poha (the type we use to make poha upma).

2. Make sure you use a large vessel to fry the poha. The pan should not be overcrowded. The poha should have enough space to move around in the pan. If you have a smaller pan only at hand, you can fry the poha in two or more batches, using a little oil at a time.

3. Some families dry roast the poha, and then proceed to add the seasonings and the tempering. We prefer making it the above way.

4. Slivers of dry coconut, chopped green chillies, fried gram (pottukadalai), chopped almonds are some other things you could add to the tempering. We usually don’t.

5. It is important to make sure that neither the poha nor the tempering gets burnt. Please do ensure this, otherwise the taste of the Poha Chivda might be compromised.

6. Some people deep-fry the poha before proceeding to add the seasonings and the tempering to it. You could do that, too.

7. Let the fried poha cool down slightly before seasoning it. Adding the seasoning and the tempering to very hot poha can cause it to go limp.

8. Powdered sugar can be used in the above Aval Mixture recipe, instead of the jaggery powder. Alternatively, you can omit the sugar or jaggery altogether. I prefer using jaggery powder.

9. Make sure you don’t overcook the poha, which might cause it to become overly hard.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam|Butterfly Pea Kheer With Beaten Rice

Best wishes on the occasion of Maha Navami!

I hope all of you are thoroughly enjoying the festive season, gorging on Navratri and Durga Puja specials, dressing up, meeting friends, and having loads of fun in general. The last few days have been crazy busy for us, with hundreds of festive errands that needed to be run. I’m loving every little bit of it, and so is the bub. 🙂 The bub has especially been enjoying learning the significance of each day of Navratri, not to forget the special foods that we have been cooking almost every day. The special food in question for today is Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam, kheer made using beaten rice or poha, naturally coloured blue with butterfly pea flowers.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop group has decided to share Dussehra dishes today, and this Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam is my humble contribution to the #VijayaDashamiTreats theme. Aval (poha) payasam (kheer) is something we commonly prepare at home each Navratri. The idea of using butterfly pea flowers (‘sangu pushpam‘ in Tamil) to colour the kheer came about when I saw Sangeeta using them to make mini idlis look absolutely gorgeous. It was through Sangeeta’s Insta post that I learnt about butterfly pea flowers being used to worship Maa Durga, of the Goddess’ love for them. What better dish could I prepare for Dussehra, then, if not this payasam?

Out came the precious stash of dried butterfly pea flowers I had picked up on our last holiday in Thailand, and this blue kheer came about. Oh, my! What a beauty! It was so much fun making and shooting this pretty kheer! Taste-wise, it still remains your regular home-made payasam, delicious as always, but the blue colour adds loads of thrill, magic and festivity to it. It did make the bub all agog with awe. 🙂 And, oh, did you know that these flowers possess several health benefits too?

You must definitely try out this Butterfly Pea Kheer too, especially if you have children in the house. I’m sure they would love it! Here’s how I made the kheer.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1/2 litre + 1/2 cup of full-fat milk
  2. 3 tablespoons beaten rice (poha or aval)
  3. 1/4 cup sugar
  4. 7-8 dried butterfly pea (sangu pushpam) flowers
  5. 1 tablespoon ghee
  6. Dried rose petals for garnishing, as needed (optional)

Method:

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the poha. Cook on medium flame for about a minute, or till the poha crisp up. Take care to ensure that the poha does not burn.

2. Now, add 1/2 litre of milk to the pan, along with the sugar. Keep cooking on medium flame till the milk thickens a little, 12-15 minutes. Stir intermittently, to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cream will form on the sides of the pan – scrape them back into the milk.

3. In the meantime, heat the remaining 1/2 cup milk in a small pan. Bring it to a boil, then add the dried butterfly pea flowers to it. Give the milk a quick stir, then switch off the gas. Set this milk aside for 10-12 minutes, or till the butterfly pea flowers leach their blue colour into the milk.

4. Pour the blue milk into the kheer cooking in the other pan, along with the butterfly pea flowers. Let everything cook together on medium flame for about 2 minutes. Switch off gas. Your Sangu Pushpam Aval Payasam is ready! Serve it hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per personal taste preferences. Garnish with dried rose petals before serving.

Notes:

1. Use good-quality full-fat milk only to make the kheer. I have used Nandini full-cream milk, here.

2. Cashewnuts and almonds fried in ghee can also be added to the kheer. I haven’t.

3. I have used dried butterfly pea flowers that I picked up at Big C in Thailand, to make this Sangu Poo Aval Payasam. You can use fresh butterfly pea flowers instead, too, if you can get your hands on them. Butterfly pea flower powder is also readily available online these days – you could use that to make the payasam too.

4. Adjust the sugar as per personal preferences. The above quantity was just right for us.

5. Don’t overcook the beaten rice. Just cook it for about a minute, let it crisp up, then add the milk and sugar to the pan. Overcooking the beaten rice will make it hard to chew.

6. I have used the thin variety of beaten rice (aka poha or aval) – the kind we use to make poha upma – to make this payasam.

7. You can filter out the dried butterfly pea flowers before adding the coloured milk to the pan. I let them stay in, as the flowers are very much edible.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Karuppu Mocchai Sundal| Purple Hyacinth Bean Stir-Fry, South Indian Style

Navratri and sundal are synonymous with each other, in the south of India. The typical sundal is made using legumes like black chana, moong beans, hyacinth beans, dry green peas, black-eyed peas or kabuli chana, tempered simply with mustard and red or green chillies, with a good amount of coconut added in. Some families also add in a sundal podi – made using dry red chillies, chana dal, urad dal and the like. The sundal recipe I present to you today – Karuppu Mocchai Sundal – is made using dried purple hyacinth beans (yes, such a thing does exist!). I did not have sundal podi ready, so I took my mom’s advice and flavoured this with home-made dosa milagai podi aka gunpowder. I’m so glad I did, for the end result was beautiful!

That’s how them dried purple hyacinth beans look like!

Each time I go to my Mama‘s place in Madras, I sneak in a visit to the Pazhamudir Cholai in Nanganallur. For the uninitiated, Pazhamudir Cholai – literally ‘orchard of abundant fruits and vegetables’ in Tamil – is the name by which large vegetable shops are referred to in Tamilnadu. Most of these shops stock flowers, grains and pulses, various other items of household use, chocolates, ice creams and fresh fruit juices, apart from a vast variety of fruits, leafy greens and veggies. I adore the Pazhamudir Cholai in the Nanganallur area – situated very conveniently right next to a Murugan Idli Shop which serves some seriously delicious food. The shop is a treasure trove of unique food products, some indigenous to Tamilnadu, which aren’t easy to come across elsewhere. The food blogger in me is overjoyed to see things like baby bitter gourds, the longest of snake gourds, purple hyacinth beans, fresh black nightshade berries, moringa flowers, and greens like Maderaspatana, Vallarai and Pirandai. I picked up a pack of dried purple hyacinth beans (‘karuppu mocchai‘ in Tamil) here on my last visit, a novelty to me. Some of these beans went into the making of this Karuppu Mocchai Sundal, a delicious prasadam that all of us enjoyed heartily.

Hyacinth beans – also called lablab, lima beans, field beans, avarai (Tamil) or mocchai (Tamil) – usually have green pods, which bear green-coloured seeds (yellowish when dried). However, there is also a purple version of these beans available – the fresh pods are a pretty purple in colour, and they bear deep purple seeds. The blackish-purple seeds can be dried too, in which case they need overnight soaking before cooking. The presence of anthocyanins is what gives these beans their purple colour, similar to black rice, purple corn, purple cabbage and cauliflower, blackberries and blueberries. The high-protein beans lose their purple colour upon cooking, though, but they do possess a certain characteristic scent which might not be agreeable to everyone. The dosa milagai podi I used in the Karuppu Mocchai Sundal helped mask the smell of these beans greatly. The sundal was absolutely flavourful and very lovely!

Now, without further ado, let’s check out the proceedure to make the Karuppu Mocchai Sundal. I’m linking this recipe with My Legume Love Affair (MLLA), an initiative started by Lisa’s Kitchen, to familiarise people with the several types of legumes that exist. This month, it is the 132nd edition of MLLA, and it is being hosted by Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. 1 cup dried purple hyacinth beans or karuppu mocchai
  2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  5. 3-4 dry red chillies
  6. 2 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
  7. Salt to taste
  8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  9. About 3 tablespoons dosa milagai podi or as needed
  10. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or as needed
  11. Red chilli powder to taste
  12. 1/3 cup fresh grated coconut or to taste
  13. A dash of lemon
  14. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Soak the dried purple hyacinth beans for 8-10 hours or overnight, in enough fresh water to cover them completely.

2. When the beans are done soaking, drain out all the water from them and discard. Transfer the drained beans to a wide vessel, and add in enough fresh water to cover the beans completely.

3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook the beans for 4-5 whistles or till they are well cooked. They shouldn’t get overly mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

4. Drain out all the water from the cooked beans, once the pressure has gone down completely. Reserve the water for future use.

5. Heat the oil in a pan. Add mustard, and allow it to pop. Add in the dried red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the cooked and drained hyacinth beans to the pan, along with salt, red chilli powder, jaggery powder and turmeric powder. Mix well.

7. Cook on medium flame till all the water from the beans dries up and all the ingredients are well combined together, 3-4 minutes.

8. Add the dosa milagai podi and grated fresh coconut. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a minute more. Switch off gas.

9. Add in lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Karuppu Mocchai Sundal is ready – serve it warm or at room temperature.

Notes:

1. Use fresh, soft water to soak the hyacinth beans.

2. Make sure the beans are well cooked but not overly mushy, before proceeding to make the sundal.

3. Coconut oil or gingelly oil (nalla ennai) works best in the making of this sundal.

4. If you don’t have dried purple hyacinth beans, you can use the regular dried yellow ones instead. Follow the above proceedure for the same, too.

5. Adjust the quantity of coconut you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

6. I have used home-made dosa milagai podi to flavour this sundal. Since the podi is quite mildly spiced and sweet, I have added some red chilli powder and jaggery powder to the sundal. Adjust the quantity of dosa milagai podi you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

7. If you have sundal podi ready, you may use it in the above recipe, instead of the dosa milagai podi.

8. The water used to cook the beans in is rich in nutrients. Do not discard it. This water can be used to make rasam, soups and gravy-based dishes.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Ven Pongal| Khara Pongal

I wasn’t always a fan of Ven Pongal, the peppery rice-and-lentil confection that is so very popular in South India. Growing up in Ahmedabad, it always meant to me boring food for the sick or the elderly, with nothing – absolutely nothing – to its credit. It was only after I moved to Bangalore that I tasted some really well-made versions of Ven Pongal, and realised just how beautiful it can be. My love for this savoury pongal grew with time, helped along by the fact that the husband appreciates it a whole lot. Trial and error taught me to perfect this dish, and it is soul-satisfying comfort food for me today.

Ven Pongal, also called Khara Pongal, is a thing of great joy when made right. No wonder it is such a popular breakfast dish down South (Psst: We love having it for lunch or dinner too!). You will also often come across Ven Pongal being served as ‘tiffin’ in weddings and religious events, in South India. It makes a frequent appearance as prasadam in temples, and in homes as an offering to the Goddess Durga, for Navratri. This is one of the types of pongal prepared for the Pongal festival in January, alongside the sweet version.

We prefer the Khara Pongal runny, moderately spiced with coarsely crushed pepper, slit green chillies and cumin giving it a flavour boost. I don’t use any milk in it, or cashewnuts – we love it in all its simplicity. More so because it is so very easy to prepare and so light on the tummy!

I share below my way of making Ven Pongal, the way my family likes it. I have also included tips and tricks to get the taste and texture just right. Do try it out this festive season – I would love to hear how you liked it!

Ingredients (serves 4-5):

  1. 1 cup rice
  2. 1/4 cup moong dal
  3. 2 tablespoons ghee
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 2 dry red chillies
  7. 2 green chillies
  8. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  9. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Method:

1. Take the rice and moong dal in a wide vessel. Wash well under running water, a couple of times. Drain out all the water.

2. Add 4-1/2 cups of water to the rice and moong dal in the vessel. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for about 5 whistles, or till the ingredients are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Meanwhile, coarsely pulse the black peppercorns in a small mixer jar. Keep aside.

4. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down completely, open it and get the cooked rice and moong dal out. Mash them well, using a potato masher. Keep aside.

6. Heat the ghee in a large pan or kadhai. Add the mustard, and allow it to sputter. Now, add the slit green chillies, dry red chillies, asafoetida, cumin seeds and curry leaves. Let the ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds, taking care not to burn them.

7. Now, add the cooked and mashed rice and moong dal to the pan. Also, add in about 1 cup water, salt to taste and the coarsely crushed black peppercorns. Mix well.

8. Turn the flame down to medium. Let everything cook together on medium heat till well integrated and the pongal starts to thicken. If too thick, add some more water. Switch off gas when done – should take 3-4 minutes. Your Ven Pongal or Khara Pongal is ready. Serve hot with a simple coconut chutney, gojju or raita of your choice.

Notes:

1. Sona Masoori or Kollam rice work best in the making of this Ven Pongal. Any non-fragrant variety of rice would work.

2. Don’t skimp on the ghee. A good amount of ghee is a must in Ven Pongal.

3. Some people dry roast the rice and moong dal till fragrant, before proceeding to make the Khara Pongal. We don’t.

4. You may use a little less moong dal if want the Ven Pongal to be a bit less sticky. I prefer the above proportion of rice and moong dal. Some people prefer using 1/2 cup of moong dal for 1 cup of rice.

5. Some people prefer using whole peppercorns in Ven Pongal, while some others prefer using coarsely crushed cumin and peppercorns. I like keeping the cumin whole, but coarsely crush the peppercorns.

6. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Ven Pongal you require. The above recipe yields runny pongal, the way we like it in our family. Please do keep in mind that the Ven Pongal thickens considerably upon cooling – hence, it is best served hot.

7. Age-old Ven Pongal recipes do not suggest the use of green chillies or dry red chillies. They use only black peppercorns for spicing up the pongal – either whole or coarsely crushed. I, however, like adding in green chillies and dry red chillies.

8. Slivers of coconut, broken cashewnuts and finely chopped ginger can be added to the tempering too. I usually avoid these.

9. Make sure the rice and moong dal are well cooked and mashed, before proceeding to make this Khara Pongal.

10. Some households cook the rice and moong dal in a mix of water and (boiled and cooled) milk. We usually use only water.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!