Sweet pongal is a traditional sweet dish made with rice, moong dal, jaggery, ghee, nuts & raisins. Also known as or chakkara pongal in Telugu, sakkarai pongal in Tamil, it is made during Hindu festivals. Recipe with instructions for stovetop & instant pot.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips.
Add ½ cup moong dal to a heavy bottom pan or pressure cooker.
Dry roast it on a medium flame stirring often till the dal turns fragrant & light golden. This takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
Next add ¾ cup rice to the same pan. Pour water and rinse both of them at least 2 to 3 times. Be careful as the pot is hot. Drain the water completely.
Pour 4 cups water. Cover the cooker and pressure cook for 3 whistles on a medium flame. If cooking in pot, pour more water.
You can also put the rice & dal in a bowl and pour water. Place the bowl in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles.
Making jaggery syrup
To make jaggery syrup, transfer ½ cup water & jaggery to a small pan. You can also skip this step & add clean jaggery or sugar directly to the mashed rice. But the flavors won't be so good.
On a low flame stir and melt it. Boil until slightly thick & sticky. Do not over cook as this turns too thick after cooling. Set this aside.
How to make sweet pongal
When the pressure releases, open the cooker and mash the rice & dal lightly. Both should be soft cooked.
Next filter jaggery syrup directly to the cooked rice & dal. If you prefer less sweetness in your sweet pongal you can add less syrup check and add later if needed. Add ½ to ¾ teaspoon cardamom powder.
Mix and cook on a medium flame till the jaggery syrup blends well with rice. It should begin to bubble up well. Turn off the stove.
Heat a pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee on a medium flame.
Add 2 tablespoons coconut pieces (optional) and fry them till they turn golden & aromatic. Transfer only the coconut pieces to a plate.
Add 15 cashew nuts to the ghee. Slightly crush 2 cloves & add them. Crushing prevents them from spluttering. Fry until the cashews turn golden.
Then add 2 tablespoon raisins and fry until they turn plump.
Off the stove and add 1 small pinch edible camphor (optional). Pour this to the sweet pongal & mix well.
Chakkara pongal is ready. Offer to the Goddess Lakshmi or Durga following your family customs.
Instant pot sweet pongal
Rinse moong dal and rice separately in lots of water. Drain them & set aside.
Press saute button & pour 1 tablespoon ghee to the steel insert of your instant pot.
When the ghee becomes slightly hot, fry cashews until slightly golden. Press cancel and add raisins. Fry them in the residual heat so they don’t burn. When they become plump remove them to a small bowl.
Press saute button again and transfer drained moong dal. Saute for 3 to 4 minutes until you begin to get a nice aroma. Do not let the dal brown.
Press cancel & add drained rice. Pour 4 cups water (or 3 cups water & 1 cup milk). Give a good mix & deglaze if needed.
It is important to use a long legged trivet here. Place it in the IP and then a medium sized bowl over it. Pour ¾ cup water to it. Cover the bowl.
Close the Instant pot with the lid. Move the steam release handle to sealing position.
Press pressure cook button and set the timer to 10 minutes. Once done, let the pressure release on its own.
Open the lid and remove the bowl of water carefully. Immediately add finely grated jaggery to it and stir well until it dissolves completely. Use fine jaggery so it dissolves faster.
Rice and moong dal has to be soft cooked & mushy. I don’t mash it at this stage since it is already mushy.
Strain the jaggery syrup through a strainer to the soft cooked rice & dal. If your jaggery syrup is clean then you may pour it directly without filtering.
Also add cardamom powder & give a gentle stir. Press saute button on the IP. Cook for a few minutes until all the ingredients blends well. This only takes around 1 to 2 minutes.
Then add 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee and press cancel. Garnish your Sweet Pongal with cashews and raisins.