Some foods are comforting, some are nutritious and some are simply divine! Pongal is one such dish which is comforting, nutritious and also divine.

Pongal is a popular rice based South Indian dish prepared during a harvest festival known as Pongal and is also prepared in temples as a Prasad (offering to God). Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over or spill over." The act of boiling over of milk in the clay pot is considered to denote future wishes for the family.

There are two varieties of Pongal, namely, Sakarai Pongal (sweet Pongal), Khara Pongal (spicy Pongal), also called Ven Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Huggi in Karnataka. The rice boiled with milk and jaggery during the Pongal festival is also called Pongal.

(Source: Wiki)
Today we will concentrate on spicy Pongal also known as Khara Pongal in Kannada. My favourite way of making Pongal is with good spoonfuls of Thuppa or Ghee, just the way my granny, aunts and my mother make it back in India. Whenever I make Pongal, I remember my Doddamma’s (aunt) word who prepares the best pot of Pongal every day as the Prasad back in our ancestral home. I just need to close my eyes and hear her saying “Make sure you don’t insult Pongal by using just a spoonful of Thuppa. Be generous with Thuppa when you make Pongal because it is God’s food. If you can’t make Pongal with lots of love and Ghee then it is not fit for you, your family and your God.”

I try to remember my Doddamma’s pearls of wisdom like these while cooking. Some foods are just divine and they are meant to be cooked that way. So don’t shy away from using generous amount of Ghee when making Pongal because it is God’s food! :)

Khara Pongal

Recipe: Khara Pongal (Rice & Lentils Medley)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4
Recipe Level: Beginner/Basic
Recipe/Post by: Sia

1½ cups Rice (preferably Sona Masuri or you can use Basmati as I have used here)
1 cup Yellow Moong Dal/Split Green Gram
½ cup Cashews
8 cups Milk + Water (I used 1 cup Milk + 7 cups Water)
2-3 Green Chillies, slit (Optional)
1 inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1-2 tsp Black Pepper Corns, lightly crushed or used as whole
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
3-4 tbsp Ghee/Clarified Butter
Salt to taste

Special Utensils:

A Pressure Cooker or Heavy Bottomed Pan with Lid

Ingredients for Khara Pongal: Rice, Moong Dal & Cashews

  1. Heat a pan and add yellow moong dal. Roast it on medium flame, sautéing continuously, till it turns golden yellow, about 3-4 mins. Let it cool completely.
  2. In the same pan add ½ tbsp of ghee and add cashews. Roast on medium to low heat till they turn golden. Keep them aside.
  3. Mix roasted moong dal and rice and wash it in cold water 3-4 times till the water turns clear. Drain all the water and keep it aside.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp of Ghee in a thick bottomed pan or pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds, pepper corns and curry leaves. When jeera starts to sizzle, add slit green chillies, ginger, rinsed rice and moong dal and mix well till every grain is coated with ghee, about 1-2 mins.
  5. Now add milk, water and salt to taste and mix well. Cover the pressure cooker lid with weight and cook it on medium-high flame for 20-30 mins or 3-4 whistles. Let the pressure be released completely before opening the lid, about 5 mins.
  6. If using thick bottomed pan, cover the lid and let it cook undisturbed for 10-12 mins on medium-high flame. By this time water will start to bubble and pour from vessel. Remove the lid; mix the rice and lentils. Once again partially cover the vessel with lid, leaving little gap to escape the steam. Let it cook this way for another 5-10 mins till the rice and dal is plumped up and doubled in volume. Remove the pan from gas.
  7. Mix in roasted cashews, 1-2 tbsp of ghee. Cover and let it sit for another 10 mins for the flavours to blend. Serve this hot with any chutney, lightly spiced curry/Kurma, Gostu or with my favourite, Raita or plain curds with Papads.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • The consistency of Pongal can vary depending on your preference. Some people prefer it very mushy like porridge and add more water while making it. So please adjust the water and milk quantity according to your preference.

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  1. Nithya Praveen // 23 June 2009 at 18:49  

    Yummy Sia....perfect breakfast.Pongal with nice chutney and gojju is jes soooo yumm!

  2. Gita // 23 June 2009 at 20:24  

    Delicious pongal favorite weekend breakfast :)

  3. Nags // 24 June 2009 at 07:05  

    my mil makes a mean pongal. i haven't tried it yet cuz TH doesn't like it and i am pretty sure i may mess it up :D

  4. Pavithra // 24 June 2009 at 11:40  

    Thats perfect breakfast ...

  5. egglesscooking // 25 June 2009 at 07:24  

    I like it mushy. These days I prepare pongal with brown rice only. I have never tried it with basmati rice.

  6. Helene // 25 June 2009 at 10:22  

    Perfect dish and beautiful! Have a great day :)

  7. rekhas kitchen // 25 June 2009 at 18:35  

    A perfect comfort food looks so delicious.

  8. Srivalli // 25 June 2009 at 22:10  

    Looks great! this sia!

  9. Vani // 25 June 2009 at 22:23  

    LOTS of thuppa in the tadka does make it divine! :) I haven't added milk before but will try that out next time. And mine's mushier too. Nice post, Sup.

  10. Viki's Kitchen // 26 June 2009 at 04:37  

    Pongal means heavenly food for me. Just started drooling on seeing urs:)
    By the way the potluck chicken event roundup has been published.
    Hope u enjoy it.

  11. Divya Vikram // 28 June 2009 at 23:04  

    Would love t have this with a dollop of ghee on top!!