January 14, 2013

Chakkarai Pongal | Sakkarai Pongal | Authentic Iyengar recipe (Version 2)

Chakkarai Pongal aka Sakkarai Pongal is one of the must-have Iyengar dishes we make for Pongal / Sankranti festivals that falls on 14th / 15th of January every year. Yes, the name of the dish and the festival are same... Although Chakkarai in Tamil means sugar, this pudding or Pongal is made of Jaggery. 

Pongal in Tamil comes from the Tamil word meaning "Spill Over" indicating abundance and prosperity as the harvest season takes over. Its an offering to the Sun God, and primarily celebrated in the Southern State of Tamilnadu, where Rice is the predominant grain grown. Pongal therefore is made of Rice, jaggery and moong dal. 

For those who have relished this delicacy, the gooey consistency generously topped with ghee (clarified butter) is a treat by itself. One musnt count the calories on this day where the carb intake would be sufficient for the entire day. The menu prepared for Pongal is always Saatvic (sans onion and garlic) and a typical menu this year at our home is - Chakkarai PongalVen PongalUlundu Vadai, Plain Rice, Elu kari kootu (recipe coming soon),elai Paruppu,Mor Kozhambu,Thirukannamudu (sweet rice Pudding) , Tomato Rasam and a dry Carrot Curry. The meal ends with buttermilk.

There are as many variations to make this gooey finger-licking Chakkarai Pongal as there are Tamil households. I usually follow my mom's version when I made it here, but  this year I have been fortunate to have her make this for us. So, the recipe is from the maker, herself :-) Dont scrimp on the ghee to get a luscious and simply breath taking Chakkarai Pongal. Now off to the recipe....

Prep time - 10 mins. Cooking time - 25 mins
Serves - 4
Keeps for 4 - 6 days under refrigeration
Difficulty level - Medium
Serving suggestionsVen Pongal / khara Pongal and Ulundu Vadai (or Urad Dal vada / Medu Vada)

  • Short grained rice - 1 cup (*See Notes below)
  • Moong Dal / split yellow gram - 1/3 cup
  • Grated Jaggery - 1 1/2 cups
  • Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Pachai Karpooram / edible camphor - a teeny weeny pinch
  • Saffron Strands - few
  • Honey - 1 TBSP (optional)
  • Salt - a pinch
  • Milk - 4 - 5 TBSP
  • Ghee - 6  to 8 TBSP
  • Cashewnuts and Raisins - as required
Wash and soak rice and moong dal for 20 mins. This is optional but adds to the consistency while cutting down cooking time
Meanwhile fry the broken cashews and raisins in a tsp of ghee till the raisins swell up and the cashew turns golden brown. Keep aside. Also soak the saffrons strands in the warm milk. 
In a deep bottomed pan, put the grated jaggery and add just enough water to submerge it. On a low flame, melt the jaggery till it boils and reaches a one-string consistency. Strain through a clean muslin cloth and reserve till room temperature
In a pressure cooker, cook the rice-moong dal mixture with 3.5 cups of water for 4 whistles. Let the pressure cool down.
In a kadai / non stick (I use Non stick as the ghee consumption is very very less), add half the ghee and add the cooked rice-moong dal mixture and the melted jaggery syrup. Mix on a low flame, and lightly stir. Now add the salt and saffron strands soaked in milk, and mix. 
Mix once more till the ghee separates on the sides, about 5 mins. Finish with honey, edible camphor and cardamom powder. Switch off the stove and tip in the rest of the ghee.
Serve hot or warm with an extra dollop of ghee (I told you we werent counting calories,today:-))

a) Use dark brown jaggery (also called kesar gud) for vibrant colour and taste. Sugar is not recommended at all. Be sure to strain the jaggery to remove any impurities
b) Do not stir / cook too much once the cooked lentils and jaggery syrups are mixed.
c) Salt is recommended for any sweet dish as it enhances the sweetness
d) Use short grained rice instead of basmati rice for authentic taste

Linking it to:
Preeti's event Foodabulous Fest
Shree's event
Gayatri's WTML
Vardhini's New U 2013


  1. Pongal looks so delicious. Happy pongal.

  2. Happy Sankranthi... Pongal looks soo good

  3. Delicious Pongal.. :) Happy Sankranti..

    Thanks for linking the delicious entry to my blog event.


  4. delicious looking Pongal! :)

  5. Happy sankranthi wishes Kalyani..

    Authentic sweet pongal.

  6. Happy Belated Pongal / Sankranti to you!
    I agree, there is no point counting calories when the food in front of u is soo delicious , especially when made by mom :)
    There is no fun if u cannot indulge once in a while :)

  7. Yummm! Hope u had a wonderful Pongal! Happy Pongal! :)

  8. Happy Pongal. Thx for linking the yummy dish.

  9. Awesome recipe thanks for sharing this with my event...
    Give vote to your fav recipes on blog and facebook both space... who get more votes will be get surprise giveaway...Voting application visible at bottom side and footer both side of blog, you can choose one more options or find your recipe @ both place to increase your chances...

    ONGOING EVENT- "Foodabuous Fest: January Series"
    Preeti's Kitchen Life

  10. Had been doing a google search on sakkarai pongal and I landed here :)
    Well presented pongal on leaf and detailed recipe, Kalyani!

    You are invited to contribute a spicy dish to my giveaway event, My Spicy Recipe and win e-gift vouchers worth Rs 1500, 1000 and 500!

  11. delicious ! I will defiantly try it thanks to post such a testy recipe and keep posting such delicious recipes , Regards, sakkarai pongal recipe


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