A bountiful binge

A tastefully decorated mann paanai or vengala paanai, two tall karumbu and freshly harvested rice, dals and jaggery — the festival of Pongal spells abundance. 

Published: 12th January 2022 06:38 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th January 2022 02:48 PM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: A tastefully decorated mann paanai or vengala paanai, two tall karumbu and freshly harvested rice, dals and jaggery — the festival of Pongal spells abundance. While the ghee-loaded and aromatic ven pongal and chakkara pongal are staples in every Tamil household, this Pongal, here are six recipes that infuse a healthy twist to native tastes. 

Moonu Raja Pongal by Suguna Vinod (@kannammacooks)


For coconut milk: 1/2 a coconut ground with water and strained to yield 1/2 cup first pressed milk (thick milk), 1 cup second pressed milk (thin milk) and 1 cup third pressed milk (very thin milk)

Other Ingredients 

  • Raw rice or seeraga samba rice: 1/2 cup 

  • Salt: 1/4 tsp

  • Sugar: 1/2 cup 

  • Cardamom powder: 1/4 tsp

  • Ghee: 2 tbsp

  • Cashews: 10 

  • Raisins: 10 


  • In a pressure cooker, add the second pressed + third pressed coconut milk. Then, add rice and salt.

  • Cook for four whistles on medium flame. Wait for the pressure to settle.

  • Keep the cooker on a low flame and add sugar. Cook for a couple of minutes till the sugar is dissolved.

  • Add powdered cardamom. Mix well.

  • Then, add the first pressed coconut milk. Do not cook it for too long. Let it simmer for a few minutes and then remove it from the gas stove. 

  • Place a small pan on a low flame, add ghee and roast the cashew nuts till it turns light brown. Add raisins and wait for it to plump. Then, take it off heat and add it to the pongal. 

  • Mix well. Serve immediately.

Panakarkandu Thinai Pongal by Maria Jenita (@maria.jenita)


  • Soak the millet for an hour with a drop of lime juice (to reduce the anti-nutrients); rinse well before cooking. Soak the moong dal for 15 minutes.

  • In a pressure cooker or an open pan, add two spoons of ghee and roast the millet and moong dal for a few minutes.

  • Add three and a half cups of water and cook until done.

  • In a second pan, take the palm candy, add one cup of water and let it boil. Once the palm candy is completely dissolved, filter it and add to the cooked pongal.

  • Fry the cashews and raisins in ghee and add to the pongal.

  • Add cardamom powder and mix everything.

  • Serve hot with the a of ghee on top.


  • Ghee: 3 tbsp

  • Foxtail millet/thinai: 1/2 cup

  • Moong dal: 1/4 cup

  • Palm candy (Panakarkandu): 1/2- 3/4 cup 

  • Cardamom powder: 1/2 tbsp

  • Cashews/almonds: 10-12

  • Raisins: 10-12

Black Rice Sweet Pongal (@krishnakumarijayakumaar)


  • Kavuni rice: 1 cup

  • Jaggery: 3/4 cup

  • Ghee: 4 tbsp

  • Cashews & raisins

  • Grated coconut: 1 tsp


  • Soak black rice for four hours.

  • Pressure-cook the rice for five whistles. 

  • Once the pressure is released, add jaggery syrup. 

  • Add roasted cashews and raisins. Mix well. Garnish with cashews and grated coconut.

Kurunai Puli Pongal by Srividhya Ravikumar (@srividhyaravikumar)


  • Raw rice granules (Kurunai): 1 cup

  • Tamarind water: 3.25 - 3.5 cups

  • Red chillies: 7-8

  • Curry leaves

  • Salt: a pinch

  • Asafoetida

  • Mustard seeds: 1 tsp

  • Chana dal: 2 tsp

  • Gingelly oil

  • Turmeric powder


  • Heat three tablespoons of gingelly oil in a thick-bottomed pan.
  • Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, broken red chillies, asafoetida, chana dal and fry.

  • Add tamarind water, turmeric powder, salt and allow it to boil.

  • Reduce the flame and slowly add the rice. Keep stirring.

  • Cover it with a lid, cook on low flame till the rice is cooked.

  • Once done, remove from flame and serve hot

Gothambu Pongal by Sarika Gupta (@worldfood_onmy_table)


  • Broken wheat: 1 cup

  • Moong dal: 1/3 cup

  • Toor dal: 2 tbsp

  • Palm jaggery (or jaggery): 200 g

  •  Ghee:  1/4 cup + 2 tbsp+ 1 tbsp 

  • Cardamom: 4 +4

  • Nutmeg: 1 small piece

  • Sugar: 2 tbsp

  • Hot water: 4.5 cups

  • Milk: 1/2 cup

  • Cashew nuts: 15

  • Raisins: 15


  • Dry-roast moong dal and toor dal together in a large iron pan on medium low heat, till it is aromatic and golden brown. 

  • Dry-roast the broken wheat on medium-low heat till it is aromatic.

  • Heat 1/4 cup ghee in a pressure cooker, on low heat. Add four pods of smashed cardamoms, the dals and broken wheat. Saute. 

  • Add 4.5 cups of hot water and then, add two pinches of Himalayan pink salt. Avoid salt if you are making this for naivedyam.

  • Cover the cooker and let the pongal/payasam cook on medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

  • Cook/melt the jaggery along with ½ cup of water in a small pan.

  • Once the pressure settles, open the lid to check if the pongal is soft and well-cooked. 

  • To this, add 1/2 cup of fresh milk.

  • Add the jaggery syrup into the pongal without disturbing the sand-like particles at the bottom of the pan. Discard the residual 1 tbsp of syrup, which may have some sand particles. Mix and cook for a while.

  • Grind two tablespoons of sugar along with four cardamom and nutmeg. Add to the pongal. Adjust the sweetness as per preference.

  • Break the cashews into four. Fry them in two tablespoons of ghee in a small pan, on low heat.

  • When the cashews are golden, add the raisins and fry briefly till the raisins plump. 

  • Add the cashews and raisins along with the ghee to the pongal. Save some nuts for garnish. Serve hot.

Varagarisi Ven Pongal by Srividhya Ravikumar (@srividhyaravikumar) 


  • Varagarisi / kodo millet: 1 cup
  • Moong dal: 1/4 cup

  • Water: 3.5 cups 

  • Ghee: 4 tbsp

  • Salt  

  • Curry leaves  

  • Cashew nuts

  • Grind to a coarse powder:

  • Ginger: 1 piece  

  • Whole pepper: 1 tbsp

  • Jeera: 1.5 tbsp


  • Wash the millet and dal together, and pressure-cook with salt.

  • Wait for more than six whistles and reduce the flame for five minutes.

  • Open the pressure cooker and mash the cooked rice well.

  • Add ginger powder mixture and curry leaves on top of the rice.

  • Heat ghee and fry cashew nuts. Pour it over the rice along with the extra dollops of ghee and mix well.

  • Serve hot with chutney.

Thinai Karuppatti Pongal By Nithya Franklyn (@drnithyafranklyn)


  • Thinai: 1 cup

  • Moong dal: 1/3 cup

  • Water: 2.5 cups

  • Milk: 1 cup (can substitute with coconut milk or water too)

  • Palm jaggery: 3/4 cup

  • Ghee: 1/3 cup

  • Salt: a pinch

  • Dry ginger: 1/2 inch

  • Cardamom: 5

  • Nuts and raisins: 4 tbsp


  • Wash the thinai and moong dal a few times.

  • Heat a tablespoon of ghee and roast till you get a nice aroma.

  • Add water and milk, and cook in a pressure cooker. After one whistle, keep on low flame for six minutes.

  • Meanwhile, dissolve the palm jaggery in half a cup of water and filter to remove impurities.

  • Add the ginger and cardamom, and let it boil for five minutes.

  • Once you open the pressure cooker, add the jaggery syrup, a pinch of salt and let it cook for a few minutes.

  • Heat the remaining ghee, roast the nuts and add to the pongal. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee.

(With inputs from Kannalmozhi Kabilan and Vaishali Vijaykumar)


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