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Name of Event

Pongal - Indian harvest feast

Cuisine From



Rice mixed with tamarind sauce and an aromatic South-Indian spice mix.


Yield 3-4 servings
Preparation time 15- 20 minutes
Cooking time 30 minutes
Main Ingredient Tamarind/Rice


Tamarind paste & rice:

  • 3 cups white rice – make sure the grains are separate - Leftover rice works great (any variety, I use Basmati)
  • Tamarind – lemon sized ball, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes [Extract pulp using 3/4 cup of water and take out seeds/roots] You can use tamarind paste.
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
  • ! tbs.urad or white dahl/lentils 
  • 1 tbs.chana dhal/lentils 
  • raw peanuts – handful (optional)
  • Dry red chilies – 2 or 3, or to taste
  • 1 tsp. grated ginger 
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • Curry leaves – few for garnishing
  • Salt to taste

Spice powder:

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Making the spice powder:

The spice powder is what determines the spice-level of the tamarind rice, so adjust the number of chilies according to taste.

  1. Heat some oil in a saute/frying pan.
  2. Add the urad and chana dal and cook until they start to brown, on med-high.
  3. Add the chilies, coriander seeds, sesame seeds and peanuts and cook for a couple more minutes on medium heat until light brown all over. Keep tossing around to prevent burning- and stop when you see the sesame seeds begins to crackle.
  4. Let the mixture cool down a little bit and then take it out in a food processor/ blender. You can use a morter and pestle, the tradtional method
  5. Grind to a coarse powder and store in a closed container to preserve the aroma/taste.

Making the tamarind paste (pulikachal):

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds, chili, urad, peanuts, curry leaves and cook until slightly brown all over and mustard  seeds start to pop/crackle.
  2. Add the grated ginger and turmeric powder and saute for a few seconds.
  3. Add the tamarind pulp and salt and mix well.
  4. Cook for 10-15 minutes until it reaches a thick paste-like consistency and oil begins to separate from the mix. Turn off the heat.

Bringing it all together:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the cooked rice (keeping some aside to adjust for taste later). The rice must have cooled down a little to avoid mashing the grains while mixing.
  2. Add the tamarind paste a little at a time, mixing well and tasting to see if more is required (the rice can be strongly or lightly flavored based on your preference).
  3. Sprinkle spice powder to taste and mix together.
  4. Add more salt if needed and mix together.
  5. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to settle down.
  6. Do not mix all the rice, tamarind paste and spice mix at one go but rather to bring it together a little by little – so that you have some rice or spice/paste mix backup available if you wanted to adjust the taste to your preference.
  7. It is traditionaly served with potato fries/chips and pappadums.

For more Indian festive recipes visit our festive celebrations page.