Pongal 2023 - 7 Best Traditional Pongal Recipes That You Can Try This Festive Season

7 Best Traditional Pongal Recipes That You Can Try This Festive Season

Pongal is the harvest festival celebrated with great pomp in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. This festival marks the end of the winter solstice and is dedicated to the Hindu sun god Surya.

The well-known dish Pongal – synonymous with the festival, is prepared in a traditional earthen pot using rice from the new harvest, jaggery, dal, and milk. This mix is allowed to boil and overflow, thus lending it its name ‘Pongal’ which means to ‘overflow’ thereby signifying prosperity.

7 Pongal Dishes to Gorge on, This Festive Season

What’s a festival without a lavish spread of mouth-watering dishes? Presenting a list of 7 traditional Pongal recipes you can try preparing, along with the main statement dish.

1. Ven or Khara Pongal

Ven or Khara Pongal

This savoury version of the traditional Pongal can also be served as a healthy breakfast option. Pin this Khara Pongal recipe up, as the dish is a myriad of flavours and can be whipped up in 30 minutes.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4


  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Moong dal – 1/2 cup
  • Ghee – 2 tbsp
  • Water – 6 cups
  • Haldi – 1/2 tsp
  • Pepper powder – 1 tsp
  • Jeera powder – 1/2 tsp
  • A pinch of hing
  • Ginger – 1 inch (finely chopped)
  • Curry leaves – 1 sprig
  • Green chilli – 1
  • Cashew nuts – 10-15
  • Salt to taste

How to Make:

  1. Wash the dal and rice and leave them aside to drain.
  2. Pour 1 tablespoon ghee in a pressure cooker and add the rice and dal. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the water and salt, and pressure cook for 3 whistles.
  4. For the tempering, in a separate pan, add the remaining ghee, hing, haldi, pepper powder, jeera powder, curry leaves, ginger, green chilli, and cashew nuts. Fry these for 1 minute.
  5. Pour this tempering over the cooked pongal, and let it further cook for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Serve with sambhar and coconut chutney.

2. Sakkarai Pongal

Sakkarai Pongal


This sweet dish is an absolute hit, especially among the kids. Give it a shot,  and don’t be surprised when they come back asking for a second helping!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Servings: 4


  • Rice – 1/2 cup
  • Moong dal – 1/2 cup
  • Edible camphor (optional) – 1 pinch
  • Cardamom powder – 1/8 tsp
  • Ghee – 2-3 tbsp
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Cashew nuts (broken) – 10-12
  • Cloves (optional) – 2
  • Sliced coconut pieces (optional) – 2
  • Grated jaggery – 1/2 cup
  • Water – 2 1/2 cups

How to Make:

  1. Wash the rice and dal and leave them aside to drain.
  2. Take the rice, dal, and jaggery in a pressure cooker and add the water. Cook for either 2 whistles, or till soft.
  3. Once the pressure releases, open the cover and lightly mash the rice and dal.
  4. Add the cardamom powder and cook on a medium flame. Once the mixture starts bubbling, turn off the gas.
  5. In a separate pan, add the ghee and heat it on a medium flame.
  6. Fry the coconut pieces till they turn slightly golden. Transfer them to a plate.
  7. Fry the cashew nuts and cloves in the same ghee till they turn golden.
  8. Add the raisins and fry till they turn plump.
  9. Switch off the stove and add a pinch of the edible camphor.
  10. Pour this tempering on the pongal, and your dish is now ready.

3. Murukku


This Pongal dish is a must-have on your festive platter, and also the first one to be polished off in seconds! Murukku also serves as a great tea-time accompaniment as they are light and crispy.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 25 minutes

Servings: 12 murukkus


  • Rice flour – 1 cup
  • Urad dal (roasted and powdered) – 1/4 cup
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Oil (for the dough) – 1 tbsp
  • Water (for kneading) – as required
  • Hing – 1 pinch
  • Oil for deep frying

How to Make:

  1. Take all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil, and add water for kneading. Add a little at a time, so that the batter doesn’t become too thin.
  2. Keep the dough resting for about 1 hour.
  3. In a kadai, heat the oil for deep-frying. Check if it has been heated enough, by dropping in a small dough ball. If it rises to the top immediately, it has reached the perfect temperature.
  4. Grease your murukku moulds/press with a little oil before filling in the dough.
  5. Press the mould to make spirals, straight into the hot oil, while ensuring the kadai is on a medium flame. Cook till the murukkus turn light brown on both sides.
  6. Let it cool and store in an airtight container.

4. Medhu Vada

Medhu Vada

Best, when served with coconut chutney, Medu Vadas can be enjoyed all through the day! Get ready to prepare extra vadas though, as no one will eat just one!

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Servings: 2


  • Dhuli urad (soaked for 6 hours) – 1 cup
  • Hing – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Chopped coriander leaves – 1 tbsp
  • Finely chopped green chillies – 1/2 tsp
  • Finely chopped ginger – 1 tsp
  • Oil for deep frying

How to Make:

  1. Wash the dal thoroughly, drain the water, and grind it to a smooth paste.
  2. Add black pepper, salt, and hing to this paste and mix well till it gets light and fluffy.
  3. Add the coriander leaves, green chilli pieces, and ginger to this mix.
  4. Keep the pan ready for deep-frying. You can test the oil by dropping in a little of the batter. If it rises to the top quickly, the oil is hot enough.
  5. Mould the mixture into flat rounds with a hole in the centre, and fry, first on high heat, and gradually lower the flame. Fry till it turns brown and is thoroughly cooked.
  6. Remove the vadas from the pan, and drain the excess oil on a kitchen towel.
  7. Serve with coconut chutney or sambhar.

5. Paal Payasam

Paal Payasam

The simplest of all the dishes with just four Pongal ingredients are readily available in all households. Don’t let its simplicity fool you, though. What it lacks in the number of ingredients, it makes up for in richness and flavour!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 50 minutes

Servings: 3-4


  • Basmati rice – 3 tbsp
  • Full-fat milk – 1 litre
  • Sugar – 4 tbsp
  • Ghee – 1 tbsp

How to Make:

  1. Heat the ghee in a thick bottomed pan.
  2. Add the rice and sauté for about half a minute on a low flame, till it emits a nice fragrant aroma. Do not allow the rice to get burnt.
  3. Now add the milk and bring it to a boil on a low-medium flame. Stir continuously so that the milk at the bottom doesn’t get burnt.
  4. After the milk has started boiling, continue to stir till the rice gets cooked.
  5. After the rice is cooked, you can mash it with a spoon while stirring.
  6. Now add sugar and stir till dissolved.
  7. Let it cook for 8-10 minutes more, till the milk reduces, and the payasam thickens.
  8. Serve payasam, plain or garnished with chopped almonds or saffron.

6. Kesari

Allow us to present you with a popular recipe for all sweet tooth. This savoury is a counterpart to North Indian’s Suji ka Halwa, but no less in taste or sight!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 6


  • Fine rava – 1 cup
  • Ghee – 6 tbsp
  • Sugar – 3/4th cup to 1 cup
  • Cashews – 3-4 tbsp
  • Raisins – 1 tbsp
  • Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Saffron strands – 2-3 pinches
  • Natural orange colour extract – 2-3 drops (optional)
  • Milk – 2.5 cups

How to Make:

  • Heat 7-8 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed pan on a medium flame. Once it is hot, add three tbsp cashews and 1 tbsp raisins and stir on a medium flame. Once cashews turn golden and raisins become plump, take them out from the flame.
  • In the same pan with ghee, add fine rava and stir on a low flame. Stir rava frequently on a low flame. Roast it nicely until the ghee starts to separate and the rava changes its colour to golden. The roasted rava will also give a nice aroma. So, this is another indication.
  • Add 3/4 -1 cup sugar in a saucepan. You can do this side by side roasting rava. Add 2-3 pinches of saffron, edible orange food colour, and 2.5 cups of water.
  • Heat the sugar mixture on medium heat. 
  • Once the sugar melts and the mixture comes to a boil, switch off the flame and keep it aside.
  • By the time, rava is roasted well, the sugar solution would also have had boiled.
  • Keep the flame of the pan with rava on a low flame and add the sugar syrup in it little by little.
  • Stir well to get rid of any lumps. Once the rava mixture starts to thicken, add roasted cashews and raisins. Keep some for garnishing.
  • Add half a teaspoon of cardamom powder to the rava. Let it cook on a low flame until the ghee separates and then switch off the flame. 
  • Garnish the kesari with kept aside cashews and raisins and serve hot.

7. Sambar

An aromatic and flavoursome stew of South Indian homes, Sambar is something popular around all over the world. Pair vada, dosa, idli, pongal, or simply rice with sambhar for a filling meal.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4


  • Tur or arhar dal – 1/2 cup
  • Tamarind – 1 tbsp
  • Diced vegetables (okra, brinjal, pumpkin, french beans, etc.) – 1 cup
  • Drumsticks (scraped and chopped) – 1-2
  • Sliced sambhar onions – 6-7
  • Diced tomatoes – 1
  • Chopped coriander – 1 tbsp
  • Sambar powder – 1-1.5 tbsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt (as per taste)
  • Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
  • Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  • Dry red chillies – 2
  • Curry leaves – 10-12
  • Asafoetida – 2 pinch

How to Make:

  1. Soak the tamarind in a half and quarter cup of water for about 20 minutes. Later, squeeze out the juice from the soaked tamarind and keep it aside.
  2. Add rinsed tur or arhar dal, about 1.75 cups of water, and 1/4 tsp turmeric powder in a 2-litre pressure cooker. 
  3. Let dal cook on medium heat for about 10-12 minutes. After 7-8 whistles, switch off the flame and keep dal aside. Your dal should be well cooked and have a mushy-like texture.
  4. Chop, dice, and rinse all the vegetable mentioned in the ingredients list.
  5. In a big pan, heat 3-4 tbsp gingelly oil. Once the oil is hot, add mustard seeds, 1 or 2 dried red chillies, 5-6 methi seeds, two pinches of asafoetida, and 10-12 curry leaves.
  6. Once the curry leaves and red chillies change colour, add pearl onions and diced tomatoes. 
  7. Once tomatoes and onions are cooked slightly, add chopped vegetables, salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric, and Kashmiri red chilli powder.
  8. Add 1.5 to 2 cups water. Stir well and let the vegetables cook on a medium flame.
  9. Once all the vegetables look al dente or cooked, add in tamarind pulp and 1.5 to 2 tbsp sambar powder.
  10. Add mashed dal. Let sambar simmer on medium flame until a froth develops on the top. Add coriander leaves for the taste and aroma and serve hot.

So what are you waiting for? Give these recipes a try, and don’t forget to share them with your friends and families, of course, not before keeping aside a few for yourself!

Also Read: Pongal Festival- History, Significance and Importance

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.