1 cup rice (I used Basmati but use any kind, medium being the best choice. You want your Pongal, like your risotto, to be starchy so that it ends up being nice and gooey)
½ cup mung dal (the yellow kind)
¼ tsp turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds, coarsely pounded
1 tbsp grated ginger
¼ cup cashew pieces, broken into small bits
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp oil
Salt to taste
½ cup rava or sooji
About 1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil to pan-fry the cakes.
Cook the rice and dal together until very soft. I usually do this in a pressure cooker (I add four cups of water and let the cooker go for five minutes after it reaches pressure). But you can also do this on the stovetop. It will take much longer, but it will get there. Make sure you monitor it, like you would a risotto, and add water if it dries up. Pongal by itself can be more gooey, but because you want to shape this into cakes you want a slightly firmer (albeit not dry) consistency.
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add the cumin, pepper, ginger and cashew and stir until the cashew pieces just start to turn golden. Add this to the rice-mung dal mixture and stir it in until everything's well mixed.
Once the mixture cools, start shaping your cakes. I press them into balls and then flatten them on the palm of my hand. You don't need a separate binder-- the dal and rice are glutinous enough to hold firm.
Place the rava in a dish and dredge each cake so you have a light coating on each.
Heat the oil in a cast-iron or nonstick skillet and add the oil, spreading it evenly in a thin layer.
Pan-fry the cakes, about two to three minutes each side, or until a golden-brown crust forms.
Serve hot with the gotsu (recipe below) or with chutney.
Recipe by Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes at http://holycowvegan.net/crispy-pongal-cakes-with-sweet-potato/