We love being the nature lovers and this walk amidst the beauty of nature helps us begin our day on a positive note, to unwind ourselves, preparing us for the hectic, tumultuous work packed day that lies ahead of us. As we walk through the foggy mornings, geared with binocs, which happens to be my husband's favorite gadget off late, we pause at the chirp by the birds we hear. DH takes his time and pleasure in bird watching, a hobby that keeps him active and going through the day. I am clueless on what species they belong to, but I do get a regular dose of knowledge from him in this aspect. An excitement on his face is worth capturing a hundred clicks when he spots rare species!
While that keeps him occupied, I spend my time to see the beauty of nature through greenery, flowering trees, fruits, cactus, even weeds, in various shapes, forms, bounty colors that leave me amazed on how God has made this world such a beautiful place. I love these walks through trees lining the layout streets, be it the banyans, the almond trees or the floral beauty of bougainvilleas which adorn the fences of the villas, the withering leaves in different shades of greens and browns make me happy and the time spent worthwhile.
Back home, this creates a mood for me to make dishes that are comforting and immensely satisfying. Warm dishes which compliment the cold weather that we have now. Dishes which are traditionally simple, infused with flavors from earthy spices like ginger and pepper which create an aromatic breakfast when served on the table. The spices are naive and basic, making the dish humble. An addition of a dollop of ghee or clarified butter creates a magic and adds steep exotic flavors in this dish.
Broken Wheat Pongal
1 cup moong daal
1 cup broken wheat
2 tbsp clarified butter/ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp chopped ginger
3 chopped green chilli
1 tsp whole peppercorns
A sprig of curry leaves
Salt to taste
A handful cashew nuts
Wash and clean the moong daal and broken wheat and keep it aside. Lightly crush the whole peppercorns and keep them aside.
Next, heat two tbsp of ghee in a wide mouthed pressure cooker pan. Add cumin seeds. When the cumin seeds turn fragrant, add chopped ginger, green chillis, torn curry leaves and whole and broken pepper. Stir and fry them for a few seconds.
Now, add the moong daal and the washed broken wheat to the above spices. Add sufficient water to this. Add salt to taste. Close the cooker and allow it to whistle thrice. If you do not have a pressure cooker at hand, use a regular cooking pan and cook the daal and wheat till they turn soft and mushy.
Meanwhile, roast cashew in the ghee and keep aside. Once the cooker cools down, add and garnish with the roasted cashews.
Traditionally, rice is paired along with moong dal to make this Pongal. However, I made an attempt to use broken wheat as a substitution for rice. It barely makes any difference. This dish is best served hot with tomato raita or any chutney of your choice. I like to call it our 'South Indian Khichdi' which does good when one is ill and down with poor health.
Subtly flavored earthy spices complement each other so perfectly. We are at the fag end of the winter season and this is such a comfort dish I love to binge on, a dish that brings out warmth with every bite, perfectly suited to bid goodbyes to the winters, welcoming the sunshine that the summer will bring along.