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No Onion Or Garlic: Ven Pongal Recipe

Food & Recipes

No Onion Or Garlic: Ven Pongal Recipe

Some Indian communities do not use onion and garlic in their cooking. Especially during certain religious days and fasts such as Navratri fasting, onion and garlic isn’t added to the food.

In Ayurveda, India’s classic medical science, foods are grouped into three categories; Sattvic (the mode of goodness), Rajasic (the mode of passion) and Tamasic (the mode of ignorance). It is believed that each of these groups of foods affect our consciousness when we consume them.

Onions and garlic are members of the Alliaceous family (Alliums), along with leeks, chives and shallots. This group of plants are classified as Rajasic and Tamasic, which means that they increase passion and ignorance. Dr Robert E. Svoboda, a well-known authority on Ayurveda said ‘Garlic and onions are both Rajasic and Tamasic, and  forbidden because they root the consciousness more firmly in the body.’

Ven Pogal recipe is a south Indian breakfast, and is a porridge made up of rice and yellow moong lentils.

Preparation time: five minutes

Cooking time: twenty minutes

Total time: twenty five minutes


Main ingredients:

  • ½ cup seeraga samba rice or regular rice
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1/8 tsp asafoetida
  • One inch ginger, chopped
  • 3 – 3.25 cups of water or add as required
  • Salt as required


For tempering pongal:

  • One tsp cumin seeds
  • One tsp black pepper, whole or crushed
  • Ten – twelve small to medium curry leaves
  • Ten – Twelve cashew nuts, whole or halved
  • Two– Three tbsps clarified butter (ghee)


Roasting moong lentils for pongal:

  • Pick ¼ cup of moong dal first to get rid of stones if any. Then heat a small pan and add the moong lentils.
  • On a low flame stirring often, roast the moong lentils till they become aromatic.
  • The moong lentils only need to be roasted till they become aromatic. No need to brown them.
  • Now take place them in another bowl or you can use the same pan for rinsing.
  • Add ½ cup rice in the bowl containing the roasted moong lentils.
  • Rinse both rice and roasted moong lentils a couple of times with water.

Cooking rice and moong lentils for pongal:

  • Drain very well and then add them to a pressure cooker.
  • Now add the following ingredients; ½ tsp cumin seeds, 1/8 tsp asafoetida, 1 tsp chopped ginger and salt to taste.
  • Pour 3 – 3.25 cups of water. The amount of water to be added depends on the consistency you want and also on the quality of the moong lentil.
  • Pressure cook on a medium to high flame for seven – eight whistles or eleven – tweleve mins.
  • Let the pressure settle down on its own and then you remove the lid to check how well it’s cooked and consistency.  Then add ½ to one cup hot water and mix very well.
  • Both the rice and moong lentils should be cooked very well. If you want, you can even slightly mash the mixture. If cooked well, then cover with the lid and keep aside.

Making Ven pongal recipe:

  • In another small pan, heat two– three tbsp of  ghee which gives a good taste and flavour.
  • Add one tsp cumin seeds and let them splutter. Then add ten – twelve cashews and fry them till they become light golden.
  • Once they become light golden, then add one tsp black pepper and ten – twelve curry leaves. Stir very well and fry till the curry leaves become crisp. The black pepper should also be fried well.
  • Now pour this entire mix on the pongal and mix very well.
  • Cover the lid (with the vent weight/whistle on the lid) and keep ven pongal aside for five – six minutes. This allows the tempering flavours to infuse with the pongal and the aroma to stay in. Then remove the lid and serve ven pongal hot with coconut chutney.





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Garima is from India and lives in Nigeria. She studied Biomedical Science from London and has been teaching science. She loves crocheting, cooking and teaching.

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