Cynthia Shanmugalingam’s pongal
A recipe kindly shared by Cynthia of Rambutan.
This is a pongal, a simple, ancient Sri Lankan rice porridge. This recipe was my grandmothers, transcribed during the kind of impatient affection that Mum had for her, and then scanned from Mum’s iPhone in Tamil for me to try to read. There are all kinds of pongal, this is a savoury one, and it’s very nice with some fried cashews on top.
75g yellow or split mung dal
1 tbsp butter
150g arborio rice, rinsed and drained
1 tsp salt
300ml coconut milk
1⁄2 tsp asafoetida
2cm fresh root ginger, peeled and crushed or grated
1 tsp ground turmeric
Optional: 10 curry leaves and handful of cashews, fried in vegetable oil to serve
Pour the dal into a saucepan and rinse loosely under the tap, then drain well. Add the butter and cook over a low-medium heat for 5–7 minutes, stirring often, until it begins to smell toasted and aromatic, but hasn’t yet gone brown. Add the rice, salt and water, and turn up the heat to bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and forget about it for 15 minutes.
Then take off the lid, add the coconut milk, asafoetida, ginger and turmeric, and keep stirring as it cooks on the same heat for a few minutes until it achieves a creamy rice pudding consistency. If you find it a bit too thick, add a tablespoon or two of water, and stir for a couple of minutes to loosen it up, until you get the consistency you like. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and cover to keep warm. If using, place 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over a medium heat. After a couple of minutes, add the curry leaves and cashews, stirring regularly, until the leaves are crispy and the cashews are golden. Dunk the leaves and cashews over the pongal and serve.