Pongal (South Indian Khichdi)

Pongal (South Indian Khichdi)

Pongal or Kara pongal (as known in Bangalore) is the south Indian version of Khichdi (a dish prepared with rice and lentils). This is a popular breakfast dish in south India and you can find it at any tiffin center. At my place, this is a quick recipe which my aunt makes when we crib about lunch or when we are hungry at odd times like 4-5 pm. This is her recipe of Pongal. Dal and rice are pressure cooked and a tempering of cashewnuts, black pepper, curry leaves, and cumin seeds in ghee is added to complete this yummy and quick breakfast.

Pongal and Vada served at the Tirupati Tirumala temple is the best Pongal I have ever eaten. Long time ago, when the Tirumala temple was not so commercial, common man could taste this pongal. You can still try your luck if you visit the temple for morning prayers. The most important thing to keep in mind for this recipe is to do the tempering (tadka) in ghee ONLY. That is what gives it the wonderful flavour. Remember to eat this hot and fresh. This can be served with coconut chutney and sambhar.

Pongal (South Indian Khichdi)


Serves  4

For Pongal

  • 3/4th cup rice
  • 1/4th cup moong dal
  • ½ inch piece of ginger grated (optional)
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt to taste

For Tempering

  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tbsp peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 12-15 curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • 10-12 cashewnuts


Combine the ingredients for pongal and pressure cook for 4 whistles on low flame. Once the pressure is released, open the cooker and mash the pongal with back of a spoon.

Heat ghee in a pan. Add cumin seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Add peppercorns and cashew nuts and sauté till the cashews are lightly browned.

Pour this tempering on the pongal and mix well. Serve hot with coconut chutney.


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