Khara Pongal: Comfort Food With A Mix Of Carbs And Protein
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While north India is busy experimenting with the preparation of their ultimate comfort food, khichdi. The genius cooks down south of India were busy working on their version of Khichdi. Known famously as Pongal, it is the southern preparation style of the humble mix of rice and dal. This doesn’t end here. Unlike north Indian cooking, a Pongal comes in both sweet and savoury forms. But the one we will discuss is Khara Pongal or the Karnataka Style Ven Pongal. The speciality of Khara Pongal is the usage of minimum spices and the fact that it can be made within minutes. This one-pot meal is a particular offering to the gods but is also relished on regular days.

If one were to look into the archaeological findings, it all began in 10,000 BC. As per the findings, since most parts of the world were under the Stone Age the people in the Indus Valley civilization began farming rice near Kashmir.

Now from this time period to five thousand years later, in south India, a mistake led to the creation of Pongal. It was the mistake of some genius cook who accidentally boiled rice and Moong dal together, creating the Pongal. This simple dish remained with the people back then and around 200 BC, the Indravizhya festival celebrated at Poombuhar came to be called Pongal.

Also known as pongali or huggi, Pongal is essentially a rice dish, which in Tamil means to boil or bubble up. The two varieties of Pongal are Chakarai Pongal, which is sweet, and Venn Pongal which is savoury but made with ghee. However, the immediate association of Pongal is with the savoury Venn Pongal. This Venn Pongal is also a usual breakfast item that is served with vada and chutney. But the Chakarai Pongal is made especially during the Pongal festival.

This simple Pongal preparation is best served with coconut chutney and sambar. But for variation, it can also taste good with some spicy curry. This rice dal and minimal spice dish, in fact, is best suited to the taste buds of children who will savour it with gusto. Though a traditional festive dish, one can make it as per the cravings. 

Here’s the recipe for Khara Pongal.


  • 3 cups rice
  • ¼ cup moong dal
  • Water

For tempering:

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 1 green chilli
  • ¼ tsp hing
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp cashew nuts
  • A few curry leaves
  • Salt


  • Wash the rice and moong dal together until the water is clear.
  • Transfer the rice and moong dal to a pressure cooker. 
  • Then, add three-four cups of water, making sure the rice and dal are submerged under the water. Cook this for about three whistles.
  • Once done, mash the rice and dal gently. Add a cup of water or as per requirement and give it a good mix again.
  • Meanwhile, in another pan add ghee, cumin seeds, black pepper, green chilli, ginger, curry leaves, and hing. 
  • Sauté this for a while or until the seeds and leaves splutter. Then add the cashews and let it fry for a few minutes.
  • To this sauté mixture, add the cooked rice and dal. 
  • Add salt and give it all a good mix. Cook for a few seconds and then serve.