Puli pongal (tamarind khichdi)

Other than the popular idli, dosai, upma, vadai etc there are many other traditional South Indian tiffin items, many of which are disappearing from our tables. Puli pongal (tamarind khichdi) is one such dish. Rich and bold in flavour and taste, it packs quite a punch! Though it is traditionally made with broken rice, other options like millets are also available without sacrificing any of the taste and in some cases actually enhancing the flavours. These indigenous millets also provide added fibre and protein as well as important minerals like calcium, manganese, phosphorus, iron, magnesium and vitamin B among others.

This puli pongal is made with little millet or samai (சாமை) in Tamizh. Don’t be fooled by the tiny size of this grain. It is one of the most nutritious of the millets.

Little millet – 1 cup (soak in 2 cups of water for one hour)
Water for cooking – 3 cups 
Tamarind – size of one medium lemon
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp 
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Raw peanuts – 2 tbsp 
Dried red chilies – 4
Chilli powder (optional)
Asafoetida – a pinch
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Sesame oil – 3 tbsp
Curry leaves – 7-8
Salt to taste


Using the 3 cups of water kept aside for cooking, make tamarind water and discard the pulp. Strain all the water in which the millets were soaking. In a kadai add the sesame oil and fry the peanuts and set aside. In the remaining oil, pop the mustard seeds and add the chana and urad dal, red chillies, turmeric powder, asafoetida, curry leaves and salt. When the dals are golden brown, transfer this to a vessel for cooking in a pressure cooker. Add the soaked millets and the 3 cups of tamarind water. Add chilli powder if desired. Cover the container and cook in the pressure cooker for 4-5 whistles. Mix well after it is done and add the fried peanuts. Serve with vadam or chips. Serves 3.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.