Skip to main content

Venn Polenta

If Yogurt rice occupies the # 1 spot in a South Indian's list of food faves, then 'Venn Pongal' is usually with in the top five list of comfort foods. Almost every South Indian reading this post has some story about a weekend brunch comprising of a large dollop of steaming hot & thick  porridge of rice & tasted moong dal, with a side of crisp Medu Vada with an almost unlimited supply of tangy piquant Coconut chutney to go with it. the added bonus was licking the plate clean!
 I had been toying with the idea of bringing out a series of dishes using grits & Yellow corn meal for sometime, but the push to get going never came until Shaila Ballal Nigam posted her delish recipe for Cornmeal Dhokhla a week ago. I promise that I'll recreate that recipe & post it.... as soon as I finish up this batch of hominy grits that I have on hand!
Back to Venn Pongal, as I said, Its a mix of well (even slightly overcooked) rice & moong dal ( which is the quickest cooking of all the lentils in the typical South indian pantry).  Precooking the lentils  makes sure that the cornmeal can cook to perfection without under cooking the lentils. the toasted lentils give final dish a subtle nutty flavor and that complements the rich aroma of melted ghee (clarified butter) that is used to finish the polenta. The dish is spiced with Cumin & black peppercorn and ginger & curry leaves round off the flavor profile.

 Cornmeal or Grits is a staple used widely in Africa & the Americas. for details, check out (yeah yeah, you know where!!) Polenta is a classic Italian dish made from yellow cornmeal.

Necessity being the mother of invention never applied more than using corn maize as a substitute for rice. My first recollection of this was in the 70's when South Indian housewives living in Kenya used maize meal as a rice substitute for making Idli/ Dosa batter, & they probably still do even today. Just soak the same amount of cornmeal as rice  in water & add to the Urad dal batter.

For the Venn Polenta you need: (4 servings)

1/2 cup cornmeal grits (the white variety)
1/4 cup cooked Moong dal, slightly toasted
a pinch of turmeric
 2 cups water

8-10 whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp cumin coarsely powdered
1/4 tsp Pepper coarsely powdered
6-8 curry leaves, torn
Salt to taste
1inch piece fresh ginger root, finely grated
5-6 cashew nuts, broken
3 tsp ghee.

Combine the dal, grits & the turmeric to the water & set to cook on the stove top. cook till the water is absorbed & the consistency is that of a tick yet ever so slightly runny porridge.

In a small skillet heat 1 tsp of ghee and add the whole peppercorns. stir for a minute before adding the other ingredients (except the remaining ghee)Stir well for a minute until the spices give off their characteristic aroma. Add to the polenta and mix well till thoroughly combined. Finish with the remaining ghee,

Stir well & pour out into a greased pan. Leave to cool & set.
When the polenta sets, cut into triangles & serve with a chutney or Sambhar of your choice. I've paired this with Eggplant 'Gothsu' which will be posted immediately after this recipe.

Pair with a steaming hot cup of Filter coffee for a perfect weekend brunch! Bon Appetit!


Post a Comment

I'd love to hear feedback from you, your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

Popular posts from this blog

Sputtering back....

I seriously feel like this scene from the movie 3 idiots .. remember this one? The way I kept racking up drafts and eventually stopped doing that as well. Lulled into complacence by the quick high from Instagram posts. Recipe measurements hastily scribbled into a Moleskine notebook faithfully depending upon my moods. The truth is that I keep over thinking the backstories needed to make the post more interesting while in reality the truth is that ideas and inspirations just occur spontaneously (like little itches , sneezes or twitches) whenever the opportunity happens to strike. Some really cool ideas that scare the beejeezus out of me and yet prove to be utterly delightful and simple in the end. Others, that seem so trivial that I feel it wouldn't be worth crowing about -- even if there are enough other recipes in that genre that get so much publicity simply because the author happens to have the right marketing knack. So in the past 4 years that I've been

Product Review: Ninja Mega Kitchen system and a recipe for Masala Dosa

 One of the biggest reasons for attending conferences is the priceless experience of meeting fellow bloggers and get an invaluable exposure to all things  culinary. This includes vendors with new products to savor and get inspiration from. I had no complaints about whatever appliances I had for making traditional Dosa (Traditional South Indian rice & lentil crepes) batter, a sturdy tabletop stone grinder that you could add the Urad dal, turn the timer on , and 30  minutes later, come back to a container full of fluffy, batter with the consistency of whipped egg whites. The The cons of this is the cleaning up, of the various parts, the roller, the grinding bin, the multiple trays on which the rollers need to be placed while transferring the rice & lentil batter, the invariable drips of thick batter on the counter.... you get the point, It takes quite a bit of time. I was pleasantly surprised when the appliance company, Ninja asked me if I'd like to try any of their

Pickling & preserving the Buddha's Hand!

 Got your attention with that sacrilegious sounding title on this post, didn't I? Well, I'm as spiritual as the next person out there, and never in my life will I ever commit that variety of Blasphemy, so nothing to fret about. I still wonder why these curious looking citrus entities (other than the obvious visual reason) were called such. It turns out that these fruits are used as a religious offering to the Buddha. My neighboring Whole Foods Market (which is quite some distance away, in Princeton) had a stock of these weird looking citrus and I must have been the oddball customer who immediately went cuckoo on spotting them. Since I had never seen one before, I immediately went for the biggest fruit with the most tentacles (since they were sold as individual units rather than by weight) The first three 'tentacles' were peeled off for their zest, dried in the oven and went into making a citrus salt for my Food52 Secret Santa .     Making