Instant Pot Ven Pongal

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Instant Pot Ven Pongal (khara Pongal) – This South Indian breakfast recipe made from rice and lentils is a great way to start your day. Pair it with sambar and chutney for a complete gastronomical experience.

Ven Pongal served in a black bowl and topped with sambar and chutney. A multi colored napkin is on the side along with a half visible bowl of coconut chutney.
Ven Pongal Recipe

What is Ven Pongal?

The first time I had Pongal was at a South Indian Restaurant in New York. Contrary to all my expectations of being served a bland mix of rice and lentils, what I received was bliss in a bowl.

With a smooth porridge-like consistency, the Pongal was freshly made, served piping hot, and topped with a tempering of cashews, curry leaves, pepper, and ghee. With the first spoonful, I was hooked to its savory taste and since then, it has become part of our weekly rotation.

This simple and easy dish is a common and popular breakfast dish from South India. It is not very different from Khichdi – popular rice and lentil porridge commonly cooked in the Northern part of India.

Ven Pongal is often served as prasad (offering to god) in temples and ashrams across the country. It also has a cultural significance during the Pongal festival.

What does Pongal mean?

Around mid-January, the day the sun transits into the sign of Capricorn is considered an auspicious one for Hindus across the Indian Subcontinent. It marks the beginning of a 6-month auspicious period called Uttarayana when the days become longer and warmer.

Also, it is around the same time crops are harvested in India and as a way to express gratitude to God for a good harvest, celebrations are held all over the country with regional variations.

In parts of Northern and Western India, it is celebrated as Makar Sankranti, in the East, it is called Bihu, and it is called Pedda Panduga in Andhra Pradesh, Sankranti in Karnataka, and Thai Pongal in Tamil Nadu. Like all festivals, special dishes are cooked on this day using the newly harvested grains.

In Tamil Nadu, Thai Pongal (also known as Pongal) is a 4-day festival. The word Pongal means boiling over. Boiling over milk is considered auspicious and signifies prosperity.

That’s why on the second day of Pongal, rice and milk are boiled in earthenware and are then allowed to overflow. Everyone shouts “Pongalo Pongal!” which means “May this rice boil over,” while praying for an abundance in harvest, fortune, and prosperity.

Jaggery, cashews, and roasted moong dal are added to the remnant milk and offered to God before serving the rest to the family members. This is the sweet version of Pongal known as Sakkarai Pongal, and the savory version is called Ven Pongal in Tamil Nadu.

Read more about the Pongal festival here –  

This post would be incomplete without a shoutout to my friends Preeti and Shobhna for answering my incessant questions on Pongal :-). Thanks a ton, ladies!

How to make Ven Pongal in an Instant Pot

Ingredients in Ven Pongal

Note – The classic recipe of white Pongal uses seeraga samba rice  – an aromatic variety of small-grained rice found in South India. If it is not readily available, feel free to substitute this variety with either Sona masoori or Basmati rice without impacting the cooking time.

An overhead shot showing ingredients used in Ven Pongal Recipe. Includes cashews, curry leaves, salt, ginger, moong dal, rice, cumin seeds, pepper, green chilies and asafoetida.
Ingredients used in Ven Pongal

The traditional recipe to Ven Pongal involves roasting rice and moong dal before pressure cooking with water, grated ginger, and salt till it turns into a soft, mushy porridge.

The next step is the tempering process – cumin seeds are added to hot ghee and when it starts to splutter, cashews, curry leaves, asafoetida, green chilies, and peppercorns are added to it.

Saute them for about a minute or so before pouring it over the Pongal. To amp things up, add a dash of freshly ground pepper and mix well.

To make it a one-pot recipe, start with the tempering process in the Instant Pot. Follow it by roasting the dal and rice for a couple of minutes. Then add water, salt, and ginger and pressure cook the mixture. Serve immediately.

It is a perfect recipe for families who are pressed for time but would like to enjoy a wholesome meal in under 30 minutes.

Step by step recipe with pictures

  1. Wash and rinse the dal using a colander and set aside.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to ‘Saute’ mode and adjust the setting to ‘More’. When the display reads ‘Hot’, add ghee.
  3. Once the ghee heats up, add cumin seeds and whole black peppercorns. Once the cumin seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves, asafoetida, green chilies, ginger, and cashews.An overhead shot of the Instant Pot Steel Insert with cashews being fried in ghee along with cumin seeds, ginger, green chilies, black peppercorns and asafoetida
  4. When the cashews turn golden brown, add the rice and dal and mix well. Saute them for a minute or two before adding water and salt. Mix well. Cover the lid. Close the vent and set it to the sealing position.
  5. Pressure cook under high pressure or use the Porridge mode and set it for 10 minutes.
  6. Once cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release on its own before opening the lid.An overhead shot of Ven Pongal cooked in an Instant Pot
  7. Mix well and serve immediately with sambar and coconut chutney.

Testers notes 

  1. For the best tasting Ven Pongal, don’t skimp on ghee. If you are vegan, coconut oil is a good option.
  2. Ven Pongal tastes best when had immediately because the porridge thickens quickly (in less than 30 minutes). To bring it back to its original consistency, add water and mix well. The amount of water depends on the quantity of Pongal. For instance, use a couple of tablespoons of water for a small bowl of Pongal.

Serving suggestions for Ven Pongal

Ven Pongal makes for a delightful dish when served with sambar and coconut chutney.

 
Ven Pongal served in a black bowl and topped with a tempering of curry leaves, cashews, cumin seeds and ghee. A multi-colored napkin is on the side along with a half-visible bowl of coconut chutney.
Khara Pongal Recipe

Other South Indian recipes that you’ll love

  • Lemon rice – Got leftover rice? Turn it into Lemon rice – a popular and flavorful South Indian dish that you can make in less than 15 minutes. It also makes for an easy lunch box option that you can either put together the night before or in the morning without any fuss.
  • Curd Rice (Thayir Sadam) – The delicate and mild-flavored curd rice (also known as thayir sadam or yogurt rice) is a befitting finale to a sumptuous spicy meal. Learn how to make this comfort food in under 30-minutes.
  • Udupi-Style Tomato RasamTomato rasam (Udupi saaru) is a delightfully tangy and spicy concoction that is often served with rice or savored as is. Learn how to make this simple yet tantalizing soup in your Instant Pot effortlessly. 
  • Red Chili coconut chutney – This red chili coconut chutney with its spicy, sweet, and tangy taste will awaken your senses. Pair it with idlis or dosas for a wholesome breakfast.


Got a new Instant Pot? Check out the links below to make the most of your pressure cooker -  
Ven Pongal served in a black bowl and topped with sambar and chutney. A multi colored napkin is on the side along with a half visible bowl of coconut chutney.

Ven Pongal Recipe

5 from 3 votes
Ven Pongal Recipe - This south Indian breakfast made from rice and lentils is a great way to start your day. Pair it with sambar and chutney for a complete gastronomical experience.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Breakfast
Method: Instant Pot
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
  

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Wash and rinse the dal and rice using a colander and set aside.
  • Set the Instant Pot to 'Saute' mode and adjust the setting to 'More'. When the display reads 'Hot', add ghee.
  • Once the ghee heats up, add cumin seeds and black peppercorns. As the cumin seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves, asafoetida, green chilies, ginger, and cashews.
  •  When the cashews turn golden brown, add rice and dal and mix well. Saute them for a minute or two before adding water and salt. Mix well. Close the vent and set it to the sealing position.
  • Pressure cook under high pressure or use the Porridge mode and set it for 10 minutes.
  • Once cooking is complete, allow the pressure to release on its own before opening the lid.
  • Mix well and serve hot with sambar and coconut chutney.

Notes

  1. Reheating instructions - To reheat refrigerated Ven Pongal, add a couple of tablespoons of water, mix well and microwave it for a minute.
  2. Vegan - Replace ghee with coconut oil
  3. If you prefer the traditional way of adding the tempering at the end, follow this process.
    • Pressure cook roasted dal and rice along with ginger and salt in a pressure cooker.
    • The next step would be the tempering process - cumin seeds are added to hot ghee and when it starts to splutter cashews, curry leaves, asafoetida, green chilies, peppercorns are added to it.
    • Saute them for about or so before pouring it over Pongal.

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Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowlCalories: 254kcalCarbohydrates: 36gProtein: 7gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 430mgPotassium: 54mgFiber: 2gVitamin A: 35IUVitamin C: 4.2mgCalcium: 25mgIron: 1.2mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

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Keyword : Festival food, Pressure cooker, South Indian, Authentic

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