Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Chakra Pongal / Sakkarai Pongal (Rice and lentils sweetened with jaggery) - Temple-style - Festive Recipes

Since I posted Paruppu Vadai a couple of days back, I thought it was apt to follow up with some kind of payasam/kheer, which is an important part of any feast on festival days or weddings. When there are guests coming over, it is customary to serve lunch with vadai-payasam. 

Pongal (also known as Makara Sankranthi), the harvest festival of India is when we worship the Sun-God and the Rain-God for all their blessings. 'Pongal' literally means 'overflowing' in Tamil language. We celebrate Pongal by boiling rice with milk and jaggery and thus evoking prosperity and material abundance. Chakra Pongal (sweet) and Ven Pongal (spicy version) are prepared on this day and offered(symbolically) to God along with prayers and pujas for Lord Surya (Sun-God).

Chakra Pongal is my dad's favorite and I love it too. My sister likes semiya payasam (vermicelli kheer) better and my mom is often confused which one to make on a particular occasion. I now realize how we never asked her which one amma likes!

This is a classic recipe and you can get that 'perfect' taste of chakra pongal that's served as prasadam in temples.

Ingredients :

Rice (Don't use Basmati) - 2 cups
Moong dal (பாசி பருப்பு) - 3/4 cup
Milk - min 1 cup, max 3 cups
Jaggery - 3 cups (smash jaggery rocks first and then measure)

Cashewnuts - 12-20 nos.
Raisins - 3 tbsp
Grated coconut - 1.5 cups (approx. from one half of a coconut)
Cardamom - 8 nos.

Ghee / Clarified Butter - min 1/2 cup, max 1 cup (adjust according to what suits your health)

Method :

  • Wash and rinse moong dal first for about 5 times. Dry roast moong dal till a nice aroma evolves. (They will turn slightly reddish).
  • Wash and rinse rice separately.
  • Pressure-cook rice together with roasted moong dal in the ratio of 1:4 (For every cup of rice, add 4 cups of milk mixed with water). More milk would make the chakra pongal to turn out tastier.
  • Take a pan, melt jaggery with a little water and allow it to boil well. Keep heat setting on 'Low'.
  • Add 4 tsp of ghee to jaggery, so that it doesn't stick to the pan. Stir in-between till it gets thickened.
  • Now, mash the cooked rice 'n' dal and add to jaggery.
  • Take another kadai, melt enough ghee, add grated coconut and allow it to become roasted (i.e., turn from white to reddish brown color). Half way through, add cashewnuts, raisins and cardamom pods. 
    • Tip : Save the outer covering of cardamom and use while making tea  :)
  • When these are well-roasted, add them to the rice-dal-jaggery mixture. 
  • Add any remaining ghee.The flavor and aroma of ghee is absolutely essential to get yummilicious Chakra pongal!
  • Mix well for 2 minutes and it's ready! :)
There you have your entire family, waiting to taste chakra pongal, while you have to hold them back so that you can do 'neivedhyam' (offerings to God) first!

  • You can also substitute a handful of moong dal with channa dal, if you wish. 
  • By 1 cup, I meant 250 ml approximately. You can choose to use a cup/tumbler of any size. It is the ratio among the ingredients that matters.
  • You can also add 1/4 tsp (not more) of salt to the cooked dal+rice mixture and mix well and then add jaggery. This helps to enhance the sweetness of Chakra Pongal.
Pair it up with some hot and crispy Ulundu Vadas aka Medhu Vadai and serve a truly festive feast to your family! :-)


    1. I will try it tomorrow and let you know. Planning to follow your recipe

    2. too good piece of information, I had come to know about your site from my friend sajid, bangalore,i have read atleast 11 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your web-page gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new post, once again hats off to you! Thanks a lot once again, Regards,
      chakkara pongal recipe

    3. very useful really good information thanks for posting such a good information it will hepls the people a lot keep it up , Regards, sakkarai pongal recipe


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