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Venn Pongal by ShubHyderabad, Telangana, IN
Pongal is both the name of dish and a festival in South India (usually falls on 14 January) celebrating the first harvest of the year. A sweet version of this, made using rice, lentils, jaggery and milk is made during the festival. I've featured the savoury version here which is commonly eaten for breakfast. I love topping it off with extra pepper and freshly grated ginger for that extra bit of warmth on a cold day, and for me, it is comfort food that reminds me of my mother's cooking. This combination of rice and lentils has other Indian cousins - Bisibelebath (with added vegetables) and Khichdi - also very popular comfort food.
Serve Tabouli with Romaine lettuce leaves, toasted pita bread triangles, and olives.
In a pinch: I have a few friends who can’t eat wheat. Quinoa is a perfect substitute for Wheat Bulgur! Use 1 cup uncooked quinoa. Follow recipe on the box. Let cool. Place in a bowl. Add above ingredients follow recipe directions. Mix well. Cover and chill until dressing is absorbed. Enjoy!
In a pinch: No spinach? Arugula or bib lettuce will work as well.
There are often fennel (aka anise) bulbs in our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box. Eating it raw in salads can be uninspiring. However, cooking fennel brings out its subtle flavor and blends well with spinach and apples. I hope this salad makes you a fennel fan, if you’re not one already!
Apparently, there is a distinction between male and female fennel. Males are round, less fibrous and best eaten raw. The female version is long and recommended for cooking. From my experience, either one is fine.