Pongal - The Humble South Indian Khichdi

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

In South India, two dishes that are a must have during Sankranthi/Pongal is the Khara Pongal & Sweet Pongal using Jaggery . Khara Pongal is also known as Huggi in Kannada.

Khara Pongal

Khara Pongal or savoury Pongal is what I call the South Indian version of Khichdi. A mixture of rice & lentils simmered to a semi-solid consistency & tempered with cumin seeds, green chillies, ginger & pepper corns is a heart warmer. Popular in most South Indian homes as a Breakfast Dish, it can be eaten on its own or even with yogurt or spicy coconut chutney or a traditional eggplant dip, either way its overwhelming. It is way too simple to make & does not involve cutting of any vegetables, which is a blessing if one is short on time. I quite often enjoy this as supper on cold winter evenings.

Preparation Time: 30 mins

  • 1/2 cup short grained rice (I Used Sona Masoori)
  • 1/2 cup Moong Dal
    1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 tbsp grated ginger
    1/4 cup grated coconut 
  • 3 green chillies - finely chopped
  • A handful of curry leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp freshly cracked Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • Salt as per taste
  • 1 tbsp Desi Ghee/Clarified Butter 
  • 10 cashew nuts 


Dry roast moong dal until it starts to turn slightly brown.

Pressure cook Moong dal along with rice along with turmeric powder

Grind grated coconut & ginger into a coarse paste without adding any water.

Heat Ghee in a heavy bottomed pan & add cumin seeds & freshly cracked Black Peppercorns  once the seeds crackle, add curry leaves, green chillies & saute for a minute.

Add cooked rice & lentil mixture & Add 1/2 cup water & mix well.

Add the coconut-ginger paste & Salt

Add Milk & simmer on low heat for about 5 - 8 minutes.

In a small pan, toast chaser nuts in ghee until they turn golden brown 

Add toasted cashew nuts toward the end & mix. 

Drizzle Ghee on top & enjoy with your favorite Side Dish.

  • Go easy on green chillies as ground pepper adds quite a bit of heat.
  • You could use long grained rice too, but short grained rice works best.
  • This can be made on stove top too instead of using a pressure cooker. Use Pressure Cooker to save time.

I Wish You All A Very Happy Makara Sankranthi !!!

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