Khara Pongal


Khara Pongal – my all time favorite rice dish along with Bisi Bele Bath and certainly my most preferred “rice item” when I go for a breakfast or lunch in fast foods here in Bangalore. Without typical masala ingredients, Pongal immediately translates into one of the safest yet tasty dish to have in hotels. During my early days of work here in Bangalore, me and my friends never missed an opportunity to have Pongal with Raita for lunch at Hotel Shilpa in Shivaji Nagar. More recently, I had good tasting sweet and spicy Pongal at Kadambam in Bangalore where you also get to taste authentic Iyengar style Puliyogare. At home, we prepare Pongal many times during Dhanur Masa and Sankranthi season around the new year.

Pongal remains a staple dish for people from Tamil Nadu. During my childhood, on our way to the North when we stopped at a simple street side hotel opposite Chennai railway station, we ordered Khara Pongal for breakfast. The taste of this Tamil Nadu style Pongal simply blew us away and we still remember the place and taste of this Pongal decades later. Later, whenever I visited Chennai, I made sure I ordered Pongal in Saravana Bhavan. This dish with an aroma of Ghee is a little different – perhaps called the Ven Pongal, it is a semi solid preparation served with Coconut Chutney and Sambar. If you are looking to try Ven Pongal, here is a nice recipe for Ven Pongal.

When we were in North, we had little less spicy and more liquid Kichdi replacing Pongal and we had fresh hot Kichdi served in temples for dinner along with Sabzi/Subzi. Here is south, Pongal is accompanied by Tamarind or Coconut Chutney. With addition of Cashews and with Milk replacing water, the recipe I have below is a little richer in content compared with regular Pongal. It tastes a little different too and perhaps you can skip preparing Chutney or Gojju for this. Of course, having a Tamarind Gojju (see this Gojju recipe) or Chutney accompanying this is a plus. Shilpa has done something interesting – she prepared an onion based Tamarind Gojju and Raita to go with Pongal. If you are a fan of onions and not averse to having onions accompanying Pongal, you can try her recipe as well.

It’s great if you can prepare both sweet and spicy versions of Pongal accompanying each other for meals. And it typically happens on the Sankranthi day. If you are looking for an easy recipe for Sweet or Sakkarai Pongal, do take a look at my Sweet Pongal recipe page. Also I recommend visiting Mahanandi or Edible Garden for some excellent explanation on how to make sweet Pongal.

Pongal is also known as Huggi in Karnataka. So Khara Pongal would translate to Khara Huggi in Kannada.

Khara Pongal / Spicy Pongal
Khara Pongal / Spicy Pongal

Khara Pongal Ingredients:

  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Moong Dal / Mung Beans – 3/4 cup
  • Turmeric Powder – 1/2 tsp
  • Jaggery – 1 tsp
  • Lemon Juice – 1 tsp or 1/2 Lemon
  • Grated Coconut – 1/2 cup
  • Milk – 1 cup
  • Coriander Leaves / Cilantro
  • Salt

Time to Prepare: 40 min

How to Make Khara Pongal:

1. Dry roast the Jeera/Cumin Seeds and Black Pepper in a pan. Crush or pound the roasted Peppercorns and Jeera/Cumin Seeds. You can use mixer grinder to crush it, but do try to make a smooth powder out of the Pepper and Cumin Seeds. Keep aside.

2. Clean the Rice with water as required. Drain out the water and keep the Rice ready. Dry roast the Moong Dal / Mung Beans for 2-3 min.

3. Transfer the roasted Moong Dal/Mung Beans and cleaned Rice to a pressure cooker. Add four cups of water to this mixture and cook in the pressure cooker for 20-25 minutes without placing the whistle on the top. Make sure that the water does not burst out of the cooker when the contents are being cooked. This pressure cooking procedure gives best taste to Pongal. If you feel this procedure is tedious, you can cook with whistles on. Once you hear 3 whistles, remove the cooker from the flame.

4. Cut the Green Chillies lengthwise. Cut Ginger and Curry leaves into small pieces. Also take the Red Chillies and break them down into smaller pieces with your hand. Keep aside.

Tempering Ingredients:

  • Ghee/Clarified Butter- 1 tsp
  • Oil – 1 tsp
  • Mustard Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Urad Dal / White Lenthils – 1/2 tsp
  • Jeera /Cumin Seeds – 1 tsp
  • Black Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • Red Chilly – 1
  • Green Chillies – 2
  • Ginger – 2 inches
  • Cashew Nuts – 8-10 (optional)
  • Curry Leaves

5. Tempering: Heat Ghee/Clarified Butter and Oil in a frying pan. Add Mustard Seeds; once the Mustard Seeds splutter, add Urad Dal and fry for a minute. Then add Curry Leaves, Red Chillies pieces, cut Green Chillies, Ginger and Cashew Nuts and fry for 3-4 min, until Cashew nuts turns golden brown in color.

6. Transfer the pressure cooked Rice and Moong Dal/Mung Beans (from Step 3) to a vessel or to a frying pan. Now add the Tempered ingredients from Step 4, Grated Coconut, Turmeric, Jaggery, Milk. Also add crushed Jeera/Cumin Seeds and Black Pepper from Step 1. Place the vessel or the pan on a stove/heater, mix well and cook all the ingredients for 4-5 minutes in low flame.

7. Finally add Salt and Lemon Juice and stir for 2 minutes.

Now Khara Pongal or Spicy Pongal is ready to serve.


  1. Khara Pongal is not Huggi. Though the main ingredients rice and split green gram are the same, some of the ingredients are different. Huggi is not semi solid like Pongal. Huggi is yummy with the watery tamarind chutney. You can roughly equate the sweet Pongal to gudanna. It tastes almost similar despite different recipes.

  2. Hi Hema,

    I tried your bisi belebath receipe it is was really nice from what we are doing , so this week I am trying veg pulav, and keep adding new dishes and all the best .

    Really good…..

  3. Hi Hema,
    i tried Khara Pongal WOW its really awesome the best recipe. Thanks a lot for such a beautiful recipe. Loved it.

  4. Tried Khara Pongal today, the Sankranthi day. It is wonderful. Specially your suggestion to add green chillies, pepper, red chilli, ginger – all have different hot tastes. It is so much successful that many of my relatives asked me about the recipe. And, obviously I directed them to your blog. Thanks for the post on your blog.

    • Wow! Good Arun that everyone liked at your home. Sorry for the late reply, I was out of station for more than a month.

      Thanks for suggesting my blog to your relatives.


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