Soak rice and dal separately in water for about 15-20 minutes.
In Southern parts of India, especially in Tamil Nadu, Pongal is a festival of harvest and calls for a humble yet mouth-watering rice dish called pongal. The dish is traditionally prepared in earthen pots and is believed that the true essence of making this dish lies in its overflowing from the pot - symbolic with overflowing prosperity and harvest. The dish, due to its simplicity and ease of making, has earned a place in the southern menu. It`s made its way as breakfast or tiffin in most of the restaurants and houses. Earthen pots have been replaced with pressure cookers or heavy bottom vessels - hence pongal requires minimal yet careful tending to in order to be prepared well.
In a pressure cooker or a big heavy bottom wok or kadhai add the oil and ghee and once hot add all the ingredients for tempering.
Remove moong dal from water and fry it with the tempered ingredients till you get the aroma of fried dal.
Add the desiccated coconut, crushed pepper corn and all the seasoning ingredients and mix well.
Remove rice from water and give it a good stir ensuring the rice is blended well with the other ingredients.
Add 5-6 cups of water if using a pressure cooker or a little more if cooking in a wok or big pan.
Your final result should be well blended and super soft mushy rice.
Remove from heat and set aside.
In another wok add ghee and the garnishing ingredients. For a rich pongal you could add more ghee than suggested or simply replace it with vegetable oil if you are conscious about all the fat.
To the sauteed and browned garnishing add the rice mixture and garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve hot with varieties of chutney or piping hot sambhar
1) Pongal tastes better when served hot.
2) If using a pressure cooker - different rice would require different amount of water hence the water quantity could vary between 6-8 cups. Read the instructions well for the brand of rice you use. If you like your pongal to be lighter you could increase the water quantity by a cup or reduce a cup if you`d like it semi-solid.
3) Ghee adds to the flavour of pongal so ensure you do not replace it completely.
4) The dish is traditionally made in earthen pots which enhances the flavour. However, pressure cooker or a heavy bottom vessel will also do the job.