Rice Pongal

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Rice Pongal

Rice is served more than a few times a week in my kitchen, and although I do enjoy plain basmati rice with some butter or some curried dal poured over top, I like to experiment with various flavor combinations. My latest preparation was inspired by Dakshin, a beautiful cookbook featuring some jewels from South India. Pongal is a dish consisting of rice, lentils and spices. Rather moist in consistency, it's balanced enough to be served as a meal by itself, perhaps with some flat breads, or you can serve it as part of a larger meal with another legume dish, and some vegetables.

Rice PongalRice Pongal
Recipe by
Adapted from Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India
Cuisine: South Indian
Published on April 3, 2009

A simple and delicious preparation of toasted rice and lentils cooked with south Indian spices

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  • 1 cup white basmati rice
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, halved
  • 1/2 cup split skinless mung beans (moong dal)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 4 1/2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, butter or oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • handful of dried curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Rinse the rice well in a fine mesh strainer. Transfer to a bowl, cover with water, swish it around a few times, and drain. Repeat until the water is relatively clear and no longer cloudy. Drain once more, cover with fresh water, and soak for 20 minutes or longer. Drain and set aside to air dry in a strainer for 15 minutes or longer.

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee, butter or oil in a frying pan over medium heat. When hot, toss in the cashews and fry for 5 minutes or until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

  • Toast the split mung beans for 5 minutes in a dry unoiled medium saucepan over medium heat, tossing frequently. Remove and wash in a strainer. Add the rice to the saucepan and toast for 5 minutes, tossing frequently. Add the mung beans and turmeric and pour in 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the split mung beans and rice are cooked and the water is mostly evaporated. Add more water if necessary. Set aside.

  • Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of ghee, butter or oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the cumin, black pepper, asafetida, ginger and curry leaves. Stir for 1 minute, then add the rice and dal to the pan along with the coconut and salt. Cook for another few minutes, adding a bit of water to the pan if desired.

  • Serve hot garnished with the fried cashews.

Makes 6 servings

More delightful rice dishes:
Lime Flavoured Rice with Split Peas
Lemon Rice with Toasted Cashews
Tamarind Rice
Cracked Black Pepper Rice


Deepthi Shankar said...

this is such simple comfort food, I absolutely love it

Chutneytales said...

My fav comfort food.Looks divine!

Suparna said...

Pongal is a healthy and filling comfort food, love it with cashews. Nice click

Jacqueline Meldrum said...

Can't wait to see what everyone picks!

Konkani Foodie said...

I really like the collection of rice recipes on your blog. You have a great website !!