Instant Pot Sweet Pongal (Sakkarai Pongal)

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Learn how to make this authentic-tasting Sakkarai Pongal or Chakkara Pongali (Sweet Pongal) in under 30 minutes using an Instant Pot.

Sakkarai Pongal served in a white bowl and garnished with nuts
Instant Pot Sweet (Sakkarai) Pongal

Sweet Pongal – cultural significance

If you like South Indian desserts then you’ll fall in love with sweet Pongala beautiful brown colored porridge made from rice and moong dal. Cooked in ghee, sweetened with jaggery, and garnished with cashews and raisins, this dessert recipe is absolutely divine.

It is generally prepared as prasadam (holy offering to Hindu gods) in South Indian temples especially during Pongal (Tamilnadu) and Sankranthi (Andhra Pradesh).

That doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge in it at home once in a while. It is one of our go-to desserts during cold winters.

Alternate names of this dish

Sakkarai Pongal (in Tamil) and Chakkara Pongali (in Telugu), where both sakkarai and chakkara mean sweet.

Pongal – A brief history

Around mid-January, crops are harvested in India, and as a way to express gratitude to God for a good harvest, celebrations are held all over the country with regional variations.

In Tamil Nadu, the harvest festival lasts for 4 days and is called Thai Pongal (“boiling over”). On the second day of this festival, rice and milk are boiled in earthenware and are then allowed to overflow.

Everyone shouts “Pongalo Pongal!” which means “May this rice boil over,” while praying for an abundance in harvest, fortune, and prosperity.

Jaggery, cashews, and roasted moong dal are added to the remnant milk and offered to God before serving the rest to the family members.

This is the sweet version of Pongal, known as Sakkarai Pongal. The savory version called Ven Pongal in Tamil Nadu makes for a hearty breakfast dish.

Read more about the Pongal festival here –  

How to make this recipe

Recipe inspiration

The many recipes that you’ll see on the internet recommend that you cook the rice and dal till it is mushy. There is nothing wrong with that, but the version I grew up eating had some texture to it, and that’s the one I am sharing in this post.

If you like this sweet porridge completely cooked, just increase the cooking time from 6 minutes to 10, and use 3 cups of water instead of 2.5.

Ingredient notes

Image of ingredients used in Sweet Pongal - rice, moong dal, powdered jaggery, raisins,cashews, green cardamom and ghee
Key Ingredients in Sweet Pongal

Rice and moong dal are bland on their own but when combined with the sweetness of jaggery and the nutty, aromatic ghee, it makes this dish hard to resist. This recipe does call for a lot of ghee, but if you are not comfortable with the amount, feel free to reduce it.

  • Riceraw rice is typically used for this recipe, but you can also use Basmati rice or sona masoori rice.
  • Moong dal – some folks make this dish without this ingredient.
  • Powdered jaggery as a sweetener. Jaggery cubes are okay, but you’ll need to cook and dissolve them in water.
  • Ghee makes this dish fragrant and aromatic. Here’s a recipe to make homemade ghee.
  • Cardamom seeds, powdered
  • Raisins and cashews for added taste and crunch.
  • Edible camphor, optional – used as a flavor enhancer.
  • Liquids – Water, and you can add whole milk (or coconut milk for a vegan version) to make it creamy.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Wash the rice using a colander and set aside.
  2. Set the Instant Pot to ‘Saute’ mode and adjust the setting to ‘More’. When the display reads ‘Hot’, add 1/4 cup ghee. Once the ghee heats up, add cashews.
  3. When the cashews turn golden brown, add raisins. Once the raisins start to plump up, transfer both cashews and raisins to a plate.
  4. Add the moong dal (it is dry and not rinsed) and roast it in the hot ghee till it turns golden brown while stirring constantly for even browning. This will take 2-3 minutes.
  5. Add rice and salt along with water (use 3 cups of water to make the Pongal mushy or leave it at 2.5 cups if you like it with a bit of texture). Mix well. Close the vent and set it to the sealing position.
  6. Pressure cook under high pressure and set it for 6 minutes.
  7. Once the cooking cycle is complete, quickly release pressure.
  8. Open the lid and add 1 cup of powdered jaggery, and camphor. Mix well to combine. Note 1) No need to turn the Instant Pot on, the jaggery will melt in the residual heat. 2) If using jaggery cubes, see note 4 below on how to make a syrup
  9. Do a taste test and add more jaggery if needed.
  10. Add warm milk along with remaining ghee and mix well to combine. The Pongal will absorb the liquid in no time. If it is too thick, add some more warm water or milk. If it has too much liquid then saute it for a minute or two on low heat to thicken it.
  11. Add the roasted cashews, raisins, and cardamom and mix well.
  12. Serve hot with a dollop of ghee, if desired.

Recipe Notes / Tips

  1. Raw rice is typically used for this recipe, but you can also use Basmati rice or sona masoori rice.
  2. The amount of water and cook time will vary depending on the rice used. I haven’t tried this recipe with raw rice, but if you are using sona masoori rice, increase the cooking time to 10 minutes. Use 3 cups of water for a Pongal with some texture or 4 cups of water to make it mushy.
  3. I did not wash the moong dal before or after roasting. If you would like to, you can rinse it and dry it with a paper towel before roasting. Rinsing it after being roasted is also an option.
  4. Use powdered jaggery to cut down on cooking time. Traditionally, this recipe is made by adding jaggery chunks (~250 grams) to 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. The mixture is cooked till it comes to a boil and the jaggery is completely dissolved. The syrup is then run through a sieve to filter out any impurities.
  5. The quality of powdered jaggery varies so start with 1 cup, do a taste test and add more as needed.
  6. If using edible camphor, use a mortar/pestle to crush it completely, or else there will be crunchy bits in your dish.
  7. Use an Instant Pot to cut short the cooking time. You can use a saucepan or a traditional stovetop pressure cooker like Hawkins as well.
  8. Fair warning: Reducing the amount of ghee in this recipe will impact the taste of the dish. Having said that, if you are calorie conscious, feel free to use only 2 tablespoons of ghee, in the beginning, to saute the cashews and raisins and skip adding the ghee at the end. 

Variations

  1. To make vegan sweet Pongal, replace milk with coconut milk and ghee with coconut oil.
  2. You can replace jaggery with white sugar or brown sugar. Note: Replacing jaggery with either of these will impact the taste and color.
  3. Some households don’t use moong dal in this recipe – you can skip it as well.

Storing/reheating

Stores well in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days, but it will soak up all the liquid. To bring back the original consistency, reheat in a microwave or stovetop with a few tablespoons of milk or water to soften it.

Other South Indian recipes you’ll love

  1. Moong dal payasam – In a Mangalorean household, festive celebrations are incomplete without a delicious serving of Moong dal payasam or payasa. Learn how to make this traditional dessert in half the time without compromising on the taste.
  2. Ven Pongal – This South Indian breakfast recipe made from rice and lentils is a great way to start your day. Pair it with sambar and chutney for a complete gastronomical experience.
  3. Instant Rava Idli – Here’s a quick recipe to enjoy those lovely soft fluffy instant rava idlis whenever the mood strikes. Serve with coconut or peanut chutney for a delicious and healthy meal.
  4. Instant Pot Sambar Sambar or Sambhar is a tangy and mildly spicy lentil-vegetable stew from the southern part of India. It is a staple in most South Indian homes and is served alongside idlis or dosas for breakfast or with rice for lunch/dinner.
  5. Lemon Rice – Got leftover rice? Turn it into Lemon rice – a popular and flavorful South Indian dish that you can make in less than 15 minutes.
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Pongal served in a white bowl

Instant Pot Sweet Pongal (Sakkarai Pongal or Chakkara Pongali) Recipe

4.5 from 2 votes
Learn how to make this authentic-tasting Sakkarai Pongal or Chakkara Pongali (Sweet Pongal) in under 30 minutes using an Instant Pot.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Pressure building time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8
Diet : Vegetarian
Course : Sweets
Method: Instant Pot
Cuisine : Indian

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Basmati rice, raw rice, preferred – see note 1
  • ½ cup ghee, divided, or coconut oil – see note 8
  • 8-10 cashews, halved
  • 8-10 raisins
  • ½ cup moong dal
  • 2.5 – 3 cups water
  • teaspoon salt, a pinch
  • 1-1.5 cups powdered jaggery
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • teaspoon edible camphor, a pinch
  • ½ cup whole milk, warm, or coconut milk

Equipment

Instructions
 

  • Wash the rice using a colander and set aside.
  • Set the Instant Pot to 'Saute' mode and adjust the setting to 'More'. When the display reads 'Hot', add 1/4 cup ghee. Once the ghee heats up, add cashews.
  • When the cashews turn golden brown, add raisins. Once the raisins start to plump up, transfer both cashews and raisins to a plate.
  • Add the moong dal (it is dry and not rinsed) and roast it in the hot ghee till it turns golden brown while stirring constantly for even browning. This will take 2-3 minutes.
  • Add rice and salt along with water (use 3 cups of water to make the Pongal mushy or leave it at 2.5 cups if you like it with a bit of texture). Mix well. Close the vent and set it to the sealing position.
  • Pressure cook under high pressure and set it for 6 minutes.
  • Once the cooking cycle is complete, quickly release pressure.
  • Open the lid and add 1 cup of powdered jaggery, and camphor. Mix well to combine. Note: 1) No need to turn the Instant Pot on, the jaggery will melt in the residual heat. 2) If using jaggery cubes, see the note 4 below on how to make a syrup.
  • Do a taste test and add more jaggery if needed.
  • Add warm milk along with remaining ghee and mix well to combine. The Pongal will absorb the liquid in no time. If it is too thick, add some more warm water or milk. If it has too much liquid then saute it for a minute or two on low heat to thicken it.
  • Add the roasted cashews, raisins, and cardamom and mix well.
  • Serve hot.

Notes

Recipe Notes / Tips

  1. Raw rice is typically used for this recipe, but you can also use Basmati rice or sona masoori rice.
  2. The amount of water and cook time will vary depending on the rice used. I haven’t tried this recipe with raw rice, but if you are using sona masoori rice, increase the cooking time to 10 minutes. Use 3 cups of water for a Pongal with some texture or 4 cups of water to make it mushy.
  3. I did not wash the moong dal before or after roasting. If you would like to, you can rinse it and dry it with a paper towel before roasting. Rinsing it after being roasted is also an option.
  4. Use powdered jaggery to cut down on cooking time. Traditionally, this recipe is made by adding jaggery chunks (~250 grams) to 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. The mixture is cooked till it comes to a boil and the jaggery is completely dissolved. The syrup is then run through a sieve to filter out any impurities.
  5. The quality of powdered jaggery varies so start with 1 cup, do a taste test and add more as needed.
  6. If using edible camphor, use a mortar/pestle to crush it completely, or else there will be crunchy bits in your dish.
  7. Use an Instant Pot to cut short the cooking time. You can use a saucepan or a traditional stovetop pressure cooker like Hawkins as well.
  8. Fair warning: Reducing the amount of ghee in this recipe will impact the taste of the dish. Having said that, if you are calorie conscious, feel free to use only 2 tablespoons of ghee, in the beginning, to saute the cashews and raisins and skip adding the ghee at the end. 

Variations / Substitutions

  1. To make vegan sweet Pongal, replace milk with coconut milk and ghee with coconut oil.
  2. You can replace jaggery with white sugar or brown sugar. Note: Replacing jaggery with either of these will impact the taste and color.
  3. Some households don’t use moong dal in this recipe – you can skip it as well.

How to store

Stores well in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days but it will soak up all the liquid. To bring back the original consistency, reheat in a microwave or stovetop with a few tablespoons of milk or water to soften it.

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Disclosure: This recipe contains affiliate links to products we love and recommend. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowlCalories: 352kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 6gFat: 13gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 30mgSodium: 56mgPotassium: 56mgFiber: 2gSugar: 26gVitamin A: 49IUCalcium: 41mgIron: 1mg

Disclaimer: Approximate Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.

Did you make this recipe?Take a photo and tag @simmertoslimmer on Instagram for a shoutout!
Keyword : Festival food, Pongal, Pressure cooker, South Indian

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