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A bowl of pongal
Alternative namesPongali
Place of originIndia
Region or stateSouth India
Associated national cuisineIndian cuisine, Sri Lanka
Main ingredientsSweet: rice, milk, jaggery, coconut pieces, or mung bean
Spicy: rice, pepper or tamarind rice
Variationschakkara pongali/chakarai pongal, venn pongal, milagu pongal, puli pongal

Pongal, also known as pongali or huggi, is an Indian rice dish. In Tamil, "pongal" means "boil" or "bubbling up".[1] The two varieties of pongal are chakarai pongal, which is sweet, and venn pongal, which is savoury and made with clarified butter. Pongal generally refers to the savoury venn pongal and is sometimes served for breakfast with vada and chutney. Chakarai pongal is typically made during the Pongal festival.


Pongal or pongali being cooked in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India for the Pongal Festival
Pongal or pongali being cooked in Salem, Tamil Nadu, India for the Pongal Festival

Chakarai Pongal

Chakarai pongal or chakkara pongali (transl. sweet pongal) is generally prepared in temples as a prasadam (an offering made to a deity). This type of pongal is made during the Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu and during Sankranthi festival in Andhra Pradesh.

Ingredients can include rice, coconut, and mung bean. Chakarai Pongal is often sweetened with jaggery, which gives pongal a brown color, though it can be sweetened with white sugar instead.

Venn Pongal

Venn (Tamil word for white) Pongal is a popular savory dish in Tamil, Sri Lankan and other South Indian homes and is typically served as a special breakfast especially in Tamil Nadu and Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka. It is usually served with sambar and coconut chutney.

Pongal in Nagercoil, India
Pongal in Nagercoil, India

Melagu Pongal

Melagu (Tamil word for pepper) Pongal is a spicy variant of the same dish made with pepper, rice, and moong daal.

Puli Pongal

Puli (Tamil word for Tamarind) Pongal is a variant made with tamarind and boiled rice. It is not specifically associated with the Pongal festival and is often eaten for dinner.

Festive importance

Pongal is prepared as an important dish during Pongal festival in Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Kerala and Sankranthi festival in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.[2]


  1. ^ Wilson, Horace Hayman (1862). Essays and Lectures Chiefly on the Religion of the Hindus, Volume 2. Retrieved 3 October 2019.
  2. ^ Pandey, Alpana (11 August 2015). Medieval Andhra: A Socio-Historical Perspective. ISBN 9781482850178. Retrieved 3 October 2019.