Savory Pongal: A South Indian Ayurvedic Healing Recipe

Photo credit: Hungry Forever

Photo credit: Hungry Forever

Pongal, a savory rice and dal porridge, is the South Indian equivalent of kitchari. This is a preeminent Aurvedic healing food, ideal for digestive health and colon health. Pongal comes with a South Indian flair, featuring seasonings that grow locally: black pepper, coconut and cashews. Enjoy pongal as a variation on the theme of kitchari!

Serves 4 as a main dish
6 with sabji


  • 2 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil

  • 1 cup mung dal, washed and drained

  • 1 cup rice, washed and drained

  • 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds

  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds

  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper

  • 1 chopped green chili

  • 2 tbsp. dry coconut flakes

  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder

  • ¼ cup cashew pieces for garnish salt to taste

  • 3 to 3.5 cups water


In a pressure cooker, heat 2 Tbsp. ghee or coconut oil. Fry the cashews in the oil until they turn golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Now add mustard seeds and cumin seeds to the hot oil or ghee. When the mustard seeds start to crackle, add green chili and fry for a few seconds.
Add the mung dal and fry for a minute.
Add water, rice, coconut, and turmeric powder.
Close the cooker and pressure-cook the pongal for about 35 minutes.
After the cooker comes off pressure, add the salt, ground black pepper, and chopped cilantro leaves.

Serve cashew pieces on side as garnish.

Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is an Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.

Enliven your holistic health! Visit Alakananda Ma in Alandi Ashram’s ayurvedic clinic to support the overall rejuvenation of your body, mind, and spirit. In-person and virtual appointments available. Book now!