For a grand pongal feast

The Pongal festivities are identified with juicy sugarcanes and the ghee-dripping sweet pongal. But there's much to a traditional pongal feast beyond the two. From fragrant curries made with native vegetables, crunchy snacks like fried lima beans and a heartening spread of kootus, kozhambus and poriyals, a typical Pongal lunch is replete with compelling flavours and colours. Two city chefs share some interesting recipes to try out this season. Read on.

Pithukku Paruppu Sambar

(This sambar is a traditional lunch serving on the day of pongal. Best enjoyed with typically made ponga choru.)

Pithukkuparuppu sambar. Photo: Special Arrangement

Pithukkuparuppu sambar. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


White lima beans (Vellai Mochai): 150 gms

Turmeric powder: Two Tsp

Cumin seeds: One-and-a-half Tbsp

Dry Red chilli: Seven

Shallots (whole): Six

Grated coconut: Three Tbsp

Diced tomato: One big

Slit green chilli: Two

Salt to taste

Water as required

For Tempering

Gingelly oil: Three Tbsp

Mustard seeds and urad dal: Half Tsp each

Dry red chilli (broken): One

Curry leaves: Few

Shallots (chopped): Two


Soak the white lima beans overnight in water and discard the bean skin by pressing (Pithukku) with thumb. Put these lima beans in hot box or tie it in clean white cloth and hang it to sprout.

Grind the cumin seeds, dry red chilli, turmeric powder and shallots to fine paste. Put the sprouted white lima beans, ground masala, tomato, green chilli and salt with enough water in pressure cooker. Allow it to cook for three whistles. Don’t overcook the beans.

Remove the lid and add coconut paste and stir. Keep it in simmering fire. Saute mustard seeds, urad dal, dry red chilli, curry leaves and shallots in gingelly oil and put it over the sambhar. Close it immediately with lid and turn off the stove. Serve it hot with Ponga Choru.

Suriya Kootu

(The name Suriya denotes the Sun. Therefore, the big yellow pumpkin is offered and worshipped during Pongal and used for cooking. This kootu is simple and tasty)

Surya Kootu. Photo: Special Arrangement

Surya Kootu. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Diced yellow pumpkin: 500g

White chick peas: 30gm

Turmeric powder: One Tsp

Salt to taste

Water as required

For coarse coconut paste

Grated coconut: 50gm

Cumin seeds: One Tsp

Garlic: One big pod

Green chilli: Five

Curry leaves: Few

For Tempering

Coconut oil: Three Tbsp

Mustard seeds: Half Tsp

Curry leaves: Few

Dry red chilli (broken): One

Shallots (chopped): Two


Soak the white chickpeas overnight. Cut the yellow pumpkin into dices and put the white chickpeas, salt, turmeric powder and water into the pressure cooker. Cook it for four whistles.

Ground the coconut, cumin seeds, garlic and green chilli coarsely. Open the pressure cooker, gently break the pumpkin mixture and stir. Keep it over the simmering fire.

Add the coarse ground coconut masala and mix well. Prepare the tempering and drop it over the kootu. Stir and turn off the stove. Serve the dish with Ponga Choru.

Karpoora Nazhigai

(An interesting preparation, this goes perfectly even evening tea during Pongal celebrations).

Karpoora Nazhigai. Photo: Special Arrangement

Karpoora Nazhigai. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Raw rice: 250gm

Moong dal: 20gm

Palm jaggery: 300gm

Cardamom powder: One Tsp

Crushed black pepper corns: One Tbsp

Dry ginger powder: Half Tsp

Cumin seeds: Quarter Tsp

Ghee or refined oil : To deep fry


Soak the rice in water for 90 minutes. Drain and dry the rice. Shallow fry the moong dal. Put raw rice and moong dal into mixie and grind it coarsely. Put the spices and palm jaggery syrup in to the rice powder. Mix it and add little water for the batter consistency. Close and leave this batter for 45 minutes. Heat oil or ghee in a kadai, take this batter in small size ladle and gently drop it into the kadai. Cook it in gentle flame and bring it into crisp and fragrant colour.

Chef Raj Mohan. Photo: Special Arrangement

Chef Raj Mohan. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: mamp13chefrajmohan.jpg

(Chef M.S. Rajmohan is the Head, Department of Hotel Management and Catering Science, G.T.N. Arts College,Dindigul. He is a member in the skill development committee of South India Chef’s Association. He runs the YouTube cookery channel “Food Tape”

Moongil Arisi Karupatti Neivathiyam

(A traditional recipe for sweet using karupatti (palm jaggery).

Moongil Arisi Karupatti Pongal. Photo: Special Arrangement

Moongil Arisi Karupatti Pongal. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Bamboo rice: Half cup

Moong dal (pasiparuppu): Two Tbsp

Palm jaggery: 3/4th cup

Water: Five cups

Grated coconut: Two Tbsp

Ghee: Two Tbsp

Cashews (broken): Eight

Raisins: One Tbsp

Cardamom powder: A pinch


Dissolve palm jaggery in boiling water and strain impurities. Add cardamom. Dry roast moong dal in a pressure cooker, add rice till it turns golden brown. Add four cups of water and pressure cook for four whistles. Mash the rice well and add the black jaggery syrup. Cook for five minutes under medium flame. Stir it with ghee to get a pongal consistency. Add fried cashews, coconut and take off stove. Drizzle ghee over the pongal before serving.

Panangkilangu chammpanthi

(Before preparing the main snack, the panangkilangu has to be prepared first.)

Panag Kilangu Chammpanthi. Photo: Special Arrangement

Panag Kilangu Chammpanthi. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Prepared panangkilangu: 10 nos.

Coconut: 1/4 cup

Green chillies: 2 Nos

Garlic: 2 cloves

Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp

Jeera powder: 1/4 tsp

Salt: 3/4 tsp

Curry leaves: 1 spring


Before cleaning the tubers, remove the skin. Then chop off the head of the tuber and wash it well. Pressure cook the tubers with one table spoon turmeric powder, half tea spoon salt and half cup each of coconut milk and water. Simmer in a cooker for 20 minutes after bringing to high pressure. Alternately you can also apply turmeric and salt paste on each tuber and steam them. Dry the cooked tubers under the Sun for a day. Slit open along the groove and remove the hard white spine. Remove fibres while breaking them into small pieces. Discard the spine and fibers. Now the sprouts are ready to be pounded.

Grind the prepared panangkilangu and other ingredients into a coarse powder using food processor or mixer-grinder. Sprinkle the powder over the sprouts and serve the snack with hot cup of coffee or tea.

Sigappi kaaikari Therrakal

(Spicy and tangy in taste, it is mainly served as a semi-gravy side dish for Idlis and dosas.)

Sigappi Kaaikari Therrikal. Photo: Special Arrangement

Sigappi Kaaikari Therrikal. Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Potato: Three (peeled and cut into small pieces)

Brinjal: Two (cut into small pieces)

Tomato and onion: Two each (finely chopped)

Garlic: Four

Carrot: One

Beans: Five

Cauliflower: Half cup

Green peas: Quarter cup

Water: Three cups

Coriander leaves: Two sprigs (chopped for garnishing)

Cocount oil: Four Tbsp

Salt (to taste)

For grinding:

Tomato: Two

Grated coconut grated: Three cups

Red chillies: Four

Cumin, fennel and poppy seeds: One Tsp each

Ginger:1 small piece

For Tempering:

Mustard and fennel seeds: Half Tsp each

Cinnamon stick: One small

Bay leaves: Two

Curry leaves: One sprig


Grind all the ingredients to a fine paste with addition of little water and keep it aside. Heat oil in a pan and toss all the ingredients (mustard, fennel seeds, bayleaf, cinnamon and curry leaves) till they release aroma. Parboil all the vegetables and keep them aside. Add the chopped garlic and onions and saute till they turn golden brown. Add tomatoes and sauté till they turn tender. Add the ground paste and fry till the mixture turns soft and till the raw smell vanishes. Add all vegetables and saute the mixture. Add 1¼ cup of water and salt (as required) to the mixture and allow it to cook well on medium flame (normally takes 10-15 min to cook). Once the gravy thickens remove the dish from stove and garnish it with chopped coriander leaves. Serve the dish with chappathi or variety rice

Chef R. Ram Prakash.

Chef R. Ram Prakash.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

(Chef R. Ram Prakash is a food consultant and runs CJ Kitchens – Culinary Centre through which he conducts cookery classes, catering service. He also hosts cookery shows on television channels)

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 3:07:44 PM |

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