Feel like a hamster in a cage.
This is what my friend texted me today, after I met her for a brief second yesterday at school.
She is a mother of three, juggling her time taking care a middle school-er, an elementary school-er and a toddler.
I can totally understand what she is going through.
Life just gets busy.
Well, my life is not as busy as hers, but my brain sure is.
It is one of those weeks when there are so many things happening, all at the same time and all of them need individual attention and everything seems to be a priority.
One part of my brain is contemplating on a presentation looming in front of me. It is a 20 minute presentation about India that I agreed in a weak moment - I have to talk about India in front of fifth graders at Sonshine's school. What was I thinking? mm?
Of course there is another part of my brain planning the list of things to buy for this week's meals. Do you meal plan?
Ooh! there is a new thread of thought! It is about what to shoot this weekend. Hmm... May be some french toast? Appetizer for Super Bowl?
Oh God! What do I make for dinner? I have some mushrooms; so sauteed mushrooms, perhaps? (This is the most prominent of all the thoughts, most of the days).
<Notification from FaceBook> Ooh, somebody has texted me. How lovely, it is from my blogger friends. Wonder what they have to say?
<Totally distracted by the incoming messages, forgets all the other things happening, starts chatting.>
<Hunger pang> Oh god! I am so hungry.
Wonder what time it is?
"What is for lunch, honey?", asks my husband.
Let's think! (like my brain needs a poke to think, ahem!)
I reply back, "how about some pongal?"
"Yes, please!" comes back the reply.
Roast dal, soak <get back to chatting>, cook <bye bye friends, jot down ideas for the presentation>, season <enjoy the aroma>.
12:45 - we are enjoying our lunch.
Now, I can get back to the India presentation
May be back to contemplating what to cook for dinner?
A few notes about the Pongal recipe and the photos
My love for pongal (khichdi, ven pongal or khara pongal, call it by any name you want) started when I tried it at a restaurant in Bangalore. They used to serve this (porridge sorta pongal) with onion raitha. Hot hot ghee laden pongal with onion raitha became my staple every time we visited this darshini style restaurant in Bangalore. My husband was not a big fan of pongal at that time. He converted when he had pongal at a yoga center at Bangalore. He had gone for a yoga cleansing session and they served this light, fluffy pongal after the yoga session and he says it was divine. It is only after that he started liking it. But he was more of a thicker-pongal fan where as I liked more of porridge consistency for my pongal. So, we compromised and agreed upon more of a rissotto like consistency.
When I started making it, I never got the consistency right. It would either be too watery or too thick. Then I saw my sister-in-law's mother-in-law (and yes, that is a very close relationship in our family) prepare pongal and I learned how to make pongal from her. A few months ago, I learned a tip from one of the food groups I am member of - to add milk while cooking dal and rice. This makes it even more delicious.
To all my vegan friends, to make it vegan, skip the milk(use water in its place) and ghee (used while tempering; use oil in its place) to make it vegan. But ghee does add a nice aroma and richness to this otherwise simple dish.
Pongal is a nutritious meal, loaded with carbs as well as proteins. This is typically served as a breakfast recipe in south Indian households, but this being such an easy and healthy recipe, I prepare this for lunch as well as for dinner. Sonshine loves this, since it consists of three of his favorite things - rice, dal and ghee - all in one dish. Typically served with a kootu (a gravy dish made with different sorta vegetables; my friend Meena was kind to share her kootu recipe), which makes it a complete meal. I just serve it with a simple onion raitha and/or coconut chutney. (There are some religious days on which I do not eat onion or garlic. Pongal with coconut chutney works well for such situations, I skip the onion raitha)
Hey, about the photos... do you see two similarly styled images? did you like what we did with those two photos? We were playing around in Photoshop and ended with an instagram-ish sort look and feel for one of the photos (see above). Compare it with the original image and let us know which one you liked better.
Did you know that there is a festival in South India (mainly in Tamil Nadu) which has the same name as this dish - Pongal?
Sweet isn't it?
All my Tamilian friends are gearing up for Pongal and would be relishing this khara pongal on the festival day.
I am planning to join them (remotely, of course) by making this for breakfast. Will you join me?
Khara Pongal Recipe
- ½ cup rice
- ½ cup moong dal
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder or ground turmeric
- 1 cup milk optional
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter/ghee
- 10-12 raw cashew nuts
- 10-12 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
- ½ teaspoon about 15-20 black pepper corns
- 1 inch ginger; julienne
- 1-2 tablespoon grated coconut fresh or frozen and thawed
- Preheat the pressure cooker for a minute over medium heat.
- Add moong dal to the pressure cooker and fry till it starts to brown and turns aromatic.
- Wash the roasted moong dal along with rice and drain the water.
- Soak rice and moong dal mix for about 15 minutes (you can soak it in the pressure cooker itself).
- Drain after 15 minutes and add 1 cup of milk and 3 cups of water along with turmeric powder (or ground turmeric) and salt to taste.
- Close the pressure cooker lid, put the whistle on and cook over high heat till it releases the first whistle (steam).
- Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and let the steam escape completely (this will take about 8-10 minutes).
- Open the pressure cooker, adjust the seasonings and let it simmer over medium heat for a few minutes.
- In a separate pan, heat ghee over medium heat.
- Using a mortar and pestle, roughly crush half of the black pepper.
- Fry the raw cashew nuts in ghee till they start to brown.
- To this ghee, add the black pepper (crushed as well as whole), cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the grated coconut and ginger and roast till coconut starts to change color.
- Pour this seasoned ghee over the simmering pongal.
- Serve hot with onion raitha and/or coconut chutney/kootu.