Pongal (or Thai Pongal) is celebrated as the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu. Pongal is enthusiastically celebrated by farmers with their farm produce harvested this season. The word Pongal in Tamil means ‘to boil over’. Here are the recipes that are traditionally prepared during this festival.

Sakkarai Pongal (Sweet Pongal): Cooking Time : 30 minutes.


  • Raw rice    – 1cup  (175 grams.)
  • Green gram dhal – 50 grams
  • Brown (unrefined) sugar       – 300 grams
  • Milk                   – 1 cup
  • Ghee  (Clarified Butter) – 2 table spoons
  • Cardamom           – 4 nos
  • Cashew and raisin – 20 grams
  • Grated Coconut – ½ cup

Cook the rice and dhal together adding 3cups of water and one cup of milk in a cooker, and mash it well. In a heavy-bottomed vessel add ¼ cup water and the brown sugar and keep it on a low flame. When the brown sugar melts completely, strain and remove any impurities etc. Add the mashed rice and dhal mixture to the brown sugar syrup stirring slowly. Then add grated coconut and crushed cardamom. Heat another vessel with ghee. Fry the cashew first and then add the raisin. Add this fried cashew, raisin and rest of the ghee to the above mixture.

Tips: Brown sugar and ghee can be either increased or reduced as required.

Ven Pongal (Also a breakfast item):         Cooking Time : 30 minutes


  • Raw rice (1cup) – 175 grams
  • Green gram dhal – 75 grams
  • Ginger                 – 1/4 inch piece
  • Cumin seed (jeera) – ½ teaspoon
  • Black pepper          – ½ teaspoon
  • Curry leaves          – 1 sprig
  • Ghee                       – 2 tablespoons
  • Cashew                  – 10 grams

Add three cups of water and cook rice and dhal together till done, adding ½ teaspoon salt. Pour ghee in a pan and add finely chopped ginger and then the cumin seeds, pepper and curry leaves with cashew nuts. Then add the mashed rice, dhal mixture to this and stir for a few minutes on a low flame. Enjoy your delicious Pongal!

Pongal 2

Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is one of the favorite South Indian rice based dish. It is very easy to prepare and can be made as a quick fix lunch. It can be garnished and flavored as required.

Coconut Rice 1

Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Servings             : 4

Ingredients     :

  • 500 Grams – Fine quality raw rice normally used for pulao
  • 200 Grams – Onion
  • 5   – Green Chilly
  • 4   – Clove
  • 1   – Big piece Cinnamon
  • 1    – Teaspoon Ginger Garlic Paste
  • A few sprigs of Mint Leaves
  • 1 Small Coconut
  • 2 Tablespoon Oil
  • 1 ½ Teaspoon Salt


Grind grated coconut using a blender and extract 2 cups of thick coconut milk. For each cup of rice, use double the amount of water for cooking. So along with the coconut milk(2 cups) measure enough water and keep aside. Slice onion, green chilly.

Heat a pressure cooker adding the oil. First add the clove and cinnamon and then add the chopped onions, green chilly and fry till the onions turn golden brown. Then add the ginger garlic paste and mint leaves. Finally the washed rice can be added along with coconut milk, water and salt. Bring to full pressure on medium heat and then lower the heat. Cook for 10 minutes on low heat.

If you are using a rice cooker for making  this preparation, after the onions are brown in the pan, transfer everything to the rice cooker and cook till done.

Tips: Cooking time varies depending on the quantity of food and heat.

Coconut Rice 2

Lime Rice (Elumichai Saadham)

Lime rice is made with lime fruit which belongs to the citrus family.  It is a good substitute for a full meal and also is an ideal dish to be packed for long journeys or taken along by school kids and office goers for lunch.

Lime Rice 1

Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 2


Rice: 1 1/2 cup preferably raw rice
Limes: 2
Dry red chillies: 3
Bengal gram dhal( kadalai paruppu):  1 tablespoon
Asafoetida: Just a pinch
Mustard: 1/2 teaspoon
Turmeric powder: 1/4 teaspoon
Oil: 2 tablespoons, preferably gingelly oil (sesame oil)
Curry leaves: 1 sprig
Salt: 1/2 teaspoon


Cook the rice in a rice cooker or pressure cooker, adding sufficient water. Care should be taken to see that the rice is not overcooked. Cool it in a wide vessel. Soak bengal gram dhal in water for 15 minutes. Squeeze the lime and remove seeds and keep aside. Break the red chillies into pieces. Heat a skillet with oil. Add the mustard seeds and asafoetida. When it starts to splutter, add the bengal gram dhal, dry red chilli, curry leaves and turmeric powder. Pour this into the lime juice and add salt. Pour the mixture over the cooked rice and mix thoroughly.

Lime Rice 2

Mutton Biriyani – Lamb Biriyani

Mutton Biriyani

Mutton Biriyani is a special rice dish that can be seen in kitchens all over India, South Asia and the Middle East. It is a rice dish made with many different types of spices and may contain meat or vegetables. Mutton ( which usually refers to goat or lamb meat) and chicken are commonly used meats.

Biriyani 1

Biriyani is believed to have been brought into India by Muslims from the North West of the subcontinent. In olden days biriyani used to be cooked over firewood in heavy vessels with burning cinders placed over the top.  These days we mostly use pressure cookers to make biriyani.  In Tamilnadu and South India, biriyani is made with a lots of spices.

Servings: 5
Biriyani 2

Cooking Time: 1 hour


Mutton (goat or lamb) : 600 grams
Basmati rice: 500 grams or 3 cups
Onions : 250 grams or 5 no
Small Onions (shallots): 50 grams
Tomatoes: 4 no approximately 150 grams
Green chilies: 6 no
Coriander, Mint leaves: 1 bunch
Ginger/Garlic paste: 2 teaspoon
Lime: One half
Salt: 1.5 teaspoon
Curd (yogurt): 1/2 cup
Water: 6.5 cups
Ghee (clarified butter): 2 tablespoons
Oil: 2 tablespoons


Bay leaves : 2 no – leaves of bay tree called tejpatta in Hindi and brinji in Tamil
Cinnamon: 2″ piece – inner bark of a tree called dalchini in Hindi and pattai in Tamil
Cloves: 6 no-  dried flower bud called laung in Hindi and laungam in Tamil
Cardamom: 6 no – seed of a plant called elaichi in Hindi and elakkai in tamil


Cut meat into large pieces, wash and marinate in curds with 1/2 teaspoon salt for 30 minutes. Slice the onions and tomato fine and set aside. Clean and chop coriander and mint leaves. Grind the small onions into a coarse consistency and set aside. Grind the green chilies and set aside. Grind together ginger / garlic paste with cardamom, cinnamon sticks and cloves into a smooth paste. Soak rice in a cup of water  for 15 minutes.

Biriyani 3

Heat a pressure cooker containing ghee and oil over medium heat and add the chopped onions. Fry till the onions turn golden brown. Add the ginger/garlic paste and spices along with the ground small onions and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till the gravy thickens.

Add the marinated mutton with green chilies along with the chopped coriander and mint leaves and stir for another 5 minutes. Adding a cup of water to the gravy, raise the heat to high and close the cooker. Cook for 12 minutes till the mutton becomes soft.

Boil 4.5 cups of water in another vessel. When the cooker can be opened, add the boiling water with the juice from half a lime, salt and the soaked (drained) rice. Close the cooker and pressure cook over low heat for another 10 minutes.

Tips: Biriyani is best served with pachadi containing curds and sliced onion.


Puliyogare – Tamarind Rice

Puliyogare or Tamarind Ride – As the name suggests, the main ingredient in this rice item is tamarind.  Since this dish has a long shelf-life even without refrigeration,  it is often packed for train journeys and other long trips.  Puliyodarai can be consumed even the day after preparation as it retains its taste and freshness.

Puliyodharai 1


Servings: 3

Cooking Time: 45 minutes


1.  Raw rice 2 cups or 300 grams
2. Tamarind 50 grams
3. Coriander seeds: 2 tablespoon
4. Dry Red chili: 12 no
5. Fenugreek seeds: 1 teaspoon
6. Sesame seeds (til): 1 teaspoon
7.Mustard seeds: 1 teaspoon
8. Bengal gram Dhal: 2 tablespoon
9. Turmeric Powder: 1 teaspoon
10. Asafoetida: small piece (0.5 teaspoon)
11.Curry leaves: a few sprigs
12. Salt: 1.5 teaspoon
13. Gingelly oil (sesame): 0.25 cup
14. Cashew nut: 10
15. Groundnut (peanuts): 0.25 cup


Using just a teaspoon of oil in a pan, fry the coriander seeds, 9 red chili, sesame seeds, and fenugreek seeds separately till they are a golden brown color. Blend into coarse powder and set aside. Again use some oil to fry the cashew nuts and set aside along with the fried ground nuts. If possible, remove the ground nut skins. Extract thick tamarind pulp using half cup water, strain and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When it starts to splutter, add bengal gram dhal, asafoetida and the remaining 3 dry red chili with curry leaves.  Then add the turmeric powder along with tamarind pulp and salt.  Simmer over low flame for 10 minutes.  Before taking off the stove, the powdered mixture from the first step should be added. Cook rice in 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker for 8 minutes. The rice should not be over cooked for this dish.

Puliyodharai 2

Allow the rice to cool in a big vessel or plate and mix well with the tamarind pulp, cashew and groundnuts.