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Learn how to make savory South Indian Ven Pongal recipe in Instant Pot. Made with rice and lentils, and seasoned with a generous amount of ghee this ven pongal recipe is so comforting and hearty. Enjoy this pongal steaming hot with some fiery chutney.

Delicious and comforting south Indian style pongal recipe in Instant pot
Learn how to make delicious and comforting south Indian style pongal recipe in Instant pot

A lot of friends and family members have been asking me to teach them how to make this delicious and comforting Ven Pongal recipe. SO, yeah! its about time that I clicked some pics and finally share the recipe for khara pongal. I have provided the steps to make Ven pongal in Instant pot.

I tried pongal in a south Indian restaurant years ago and since then I have been making it at home in regular intervals. This South Indian Pongal dish is a personal favorite of mine. The texture and taste of Ven Pongal is quite different from Khichdi from North India and Khichudi from the East India. Though, the concept is same, but the taste is different because of the use of spices and seasonings.

What is Ven Pongal?

Popularly known as Ven Pongal is an Indian rice and lentil based dish. In Tamil, Pongal means bubbling up. It can be made sweet or savory. In this recipe for Ven Pongal, I have shared a no-fail recipe of mine that I have perfected over the years. This rice and moong dal dish has a porridge like texture and flavored with asafetida (hing), curry leaves, black pepper, cashews and lots of ghee.

Khara Pongal is traditionally made during Makar Sankranti.

Dal Khichdi vs. Pongal

Ven Pongal is a South Indian version of savory porridge. Pongal or Khichdi or Khichuri is made in numerous different varieties in India. It’s called Pongal in Southern Part of India, Khichdi in Gujarat, Khichuri in Bengal, so on and so forth. … And hence, Khichdi has also been designated as the National Dish of India.

Enjoy this Instant Pot savory pongal with some hot chutney

Ingredients needed to make South Indian Pongal Recipe

RiceI have used gobindobhog rice in this pongal recipe because, I like the smell of this aromatic rice. Though traditionally, Seeraga samba rice is used in making Ven Pongal, you can use any rice actually. The best rice however you can use for the Pongal recipe is any small to medium grained rice.

Moong Dal – You will need split, yellow lentils for this recipe. Moong lentils are available in all indian stores.

Cashew – You would need about 1/4 cup of roasted cashews.

Peppercorn – 1 tbsp whole peppercorn is coarsely grinded and used in this pongal recipe. You will get the best flavors if you use fresh peppercorn instead of store bought ground ones.

Curry leaves – The pongal wont taste like a pongal without fresh curry leaves. I think the use of curry leaves make pongal taste so different than khichdi. You can get fresh curry leaves in Indian stores.

Ghee – I will recommend you to use some good quality ghee. I make my own ghee at home. You can buy ghee from almost all the grocery stores.

Asafetida/Hing – Again, an important tempering spice for Ven Pongal

Coconut – Fresh shredded coconut is preferred. You can use thawed frozen coconut too. This is a brand I have been using lately – Laxmi.

NOTE – These spices bring so much taste and flavor in ven pongal. Try to include all of them and do not skip on any one.

Enjoy Instant Pot Ven Pongal with some extra dollop of ghee

How to make Ven Pongal

step by step method to make ven pongal


Begin by roasting 1/2 cup moong dal lentil on very low heat. It will take few minutes for the lentils to start getting light browned. There will be a nice nutty aroma come out from roasting the moong dal. When it begins to brown, keep an eyes on it because the dal will start to brown fast then and there is a chance of it burning. So, when you notice that a few moong lentils are beginning to brown, switch off the heat and remove the pan from gas.


Wash 1/2 cup moong lentils with 1/2 cup rice really well. Wash a couple of times till you see the water is clear.


If you are using instant pot, add the washed rice and dal in the pot with 3 cups of water. Close the lid. Turn on the vent and cook on manual for 10 minutes.

If you are using pressure cooker, add the washed rice and lentils with 3 cups of water and cook till 5 to 6 whistles.

NOTE – The amount of water that you use depends on the consistency you prefer. I like mine more of a porridge texture.


Using natural release (both INSTANT POT & PRESSURE COOKER), Let the pressure settle down on its own and then you remove the lid to check the doneness and consistency of the pongal. The consistency of pongal is extra soft.

Mix the coconut with the dal and rice mixture.

NOTE: Using natural release for PONGAL yields good results and less likelihood that the rice on the bottom of the pot will stick or burn.


In a pan heat ghee. Add curry leaves and cashews. Once the curry leaves begin to get crispy, add Hing and crushed peppercorn.

Pour this ghee mixture to the rice and dal mixture and give it a good mix. Cover the pot for 30 minutes and let the ghee and and the seasonings soak into the rice.

Steaming hot Instant Pot Ven Pongal is made with yellow lentils, rice and flavored with curry leaves, ghee, peppercorn and hing.

Expert Tips to Make the Perfect Khara Pongal

  • Rinse the rice and dal well: Rinsing rice and dal before cooking removes dirt and starch and makes the dish so much tastier.
  • Let the rice natural release for at least 10 minutes. Using natural release for rice yields fluffy results and less likelihood that the rice on the bottom of the pot will stick or burn.
  • If the Pongal has a consistency like that of a pulao, then add ½ to 1 cup hot water and mix very well.
  • Generous amount of Ghee: Ghee plays two important roles in this recipe for Pongal. It imparts a very aromatic flavor to the Pongal. Second, ghee in Pongal helps you to digest the lentils too.
  • Rice & Dal Ratio: I didn’t grow up eating Pongal. I’m from the east part of India, where khichdi is made by mixing dal and rice together. The ratio of dal and rice to make this dish is purely a personal choice. I always use the same amount of rice to moong dal.
  • Ratio of rice and dal to water: The texture of pongal has to be runny. Almost like a porridge. So the amount of water you add to cook the dal and rice is more than usual. But again, you adjust the water amount by your preference.
  • Pre- roasting the moong dal: Pre-roasting the moong dal lentils and keeping it in a air tight jar, will save you time while making pongal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Use the “Rice” Button on My Instant Pot while making Ven Pongal?

The rice button is best used for white rice, but not great for cooking different varieties of rice dishes.

Can I make South Indian Pongal on stove top?

If you do not have a pressure cooker, you can make ven pongal in a pot or pan on the stove-top. Simply follow the recipe and cook the rice, lentils in 3.5 to 4 cups water. Do add more water if needed.

What tastes best with Ven Pongal?

Ven Pongal or Khara Pongal tastes best with some spicy potato curry or with some tomato chutney. Honestly, you can pair any vegetarian or non-vegetarian side dishes to go with south Indian pongal. Even, the Chicken Roast served with Pongal will make such a scrumptious weekend brunch.

What kind of Coconut to use in Khara Pongal?

If you can use some freshly grated coconut, that will be best. However, in the absence of fresh coconut, use the grated frozen coconut. Make sure the coconut is thawed before you add it to the dish.

Can I use oats or millets?

Yes, oats, millets, cracked wheat can be used to make the pongal even healthier.

Steaming hot Instant Pot Ven Pongal is made with yellow lentils, rice and flavored with curry leaves, ghee, peppercorn and hing.

How to Make Ven Pongal (Khara Pongal)

Learn how to make savory South Indian Pongal in Instant Pot. Made with rice and lentils, this Khara Pongal is such a healthy and wholesome dish that you can enjoy with spicy chutneys or some Indian pickles.
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  • 1/2 Cup Moong Dal Lentils
  • 1/2 Cup Rice
  • 4 Cups Water
  • 1 Tsp Salt


  • 5 Tbsp Ghee/Clarified Butter
  • 1/2 Cup Grated Coconut
  • 10/12 Dry Roasted Cashew Nuts
  • 1 Sprig Curry Leaves
  • 1 Tsp Asafetida
  • 1 Tsp Black peppercorn crushed



  • In a non-stick pan, dry roast the moong dal on low heat for 5 to 6 minutes. Keep roasting till you see the moong dal changing colors slightly into a light brown color. NOTE: The aroma of roasted dal will be filling the kitchen.
  • Take the pan off the heat


  • Add the rice to the roasted dal and wash couple times till you see the water run clear.


  • Add 4 to 4 and 1/2 cups of water to the pot and cook the rice and dal mixture in pressure cooker for 4 to 5 whistles
  • If using instant pot, then cook for 10 minutes on manual
  • Open the lid only after the pressure releases naturally
  • Check the texture and consistency. If the rice and dal mixture isn't very mushy, then add another 1/2 cup of water and using a spatula, mix it well.
  • While the dal and rice mixture is hot, add the coconut and mix it well.


  • In a non-stick pan, heat up the ghee. Add curry leaves and cashews.
  • When the curry leaves start to get crisp, add the hing and crushed peppercorn. Cook on low heat for 1 minute or so.
  • Pour this tempering mixture on the hot pongal and give it a good mix.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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