Makar sankranti is a harvest festival and first one to knock our doors in the calendar year. It also marks the movement of sun from south to North. It marks the start of auspicious beginnings for many communities.
We eat various sweets made of sesame and jaggery during this time. Sweet pongal recipe and ven pongal is prepared in temples for prasadam during this time. Here is our unique sakarai pongal or chakkara pongal recipe with brown rice and jaggery. This south Indian breakfast sweet pongal recipe with jaggery helps poor have a full meal as bhog when served at temples. it is nutritious as has carbs from rice, protein from dal and iron from palm sugar.
Happy Makar Sankranti! Happy Pongal!
what is pongal?
Different communities mark the festival and call it by different names. Sindhis call it Lal-loi or Tirmuri while Punjabi & Sikh community calls it as Lohri and Maghi.Kashmiris call it Shishur sankraent. It is called as Poush sankranti in Bengal and Bangladesh whereas Nepali and Bihari community calls it as Maggi parv.Himachal calls it as Maghi saaji while Gujaratis call it as Uttarayan.
Telugus Pedda panduga. It is known as Suggi Habba /Makara Sankranti in Karnataka and Maharashtra. We thank sun god and Lord Indra for protecting the crops. Tamils call it pongal. There are 4 days of pongal - Bhogi,Thai, Mattu and Kannum.
How do we celebrate it?
We fly kites and distribute sweets made with sesame,puffed rice and jaggery. Winter will soon give way to spring and days will get hotter. Sugar cane is also eaten during this time and so are jaggery based sweets. This mid-winter festival is celebrated with bonfires and bathing with sesame oil. There are special treats in the house to celebrate it. Murmura laddu or maramaralu ladoo, Til patti, rewari, gajak, til mawa barfi , til ladu or nuvvula undalu/ rasi ladoo, peanut chikki are the sweets served. Gujaratis also eat Jalebi Fafda while enjoying kite flying all day. The Rann of Kutch festival is also celebrated in Kutch during this time. There are 4 types of Pongal which are eaten during this time Melagu, Puli, venn pongal or savoury pongal, sakkara pongali. Click here to see our top Makar Sankranti recipes.
Why brown rice?
We try to incorporate brown rice as much as possible in our food. Although it takes time to cook, it has a nutty flavor which grows on you slowly. I love pairing it with rajma ki sabji and vegan channa masala each time. Making salad , popular south Indian brown rice chakli or savory brown rice khichdi is also a great idea.
Brown rice is healthier than white and helps you lose weight too. It also has bran & germ in it which is lost when it is dehusked to make white rice. It has good amount of fiber and that keeps you full for longer. Hence, we wanted to make our sweet pongal recipe also with it.
- brown rice
- jaggery/ palm sugar/ gur
- moong dal
- cardamom powder
- raisins and cashews as garnish
See recipe card for quantities.
- Pressure cooker
- frying pan
Instructions to make sweet pongal recipe
- Wash and soak brown rice for 30 minutes.Dry roast moong dal in a pan.
2. Later add 1 tbsp. ghee in a pressure cooker and add the dry roasted dal
3. Cook it for 3-4 minutes until it is light(not dark) brown.
4. Now add soaked brown rice to it along with 3 cups water. Let it cook over a medium flame for unto 6 whistles. Note: White rice takes lesser time to cook.
5. Mash it once the pressure releases.
6. Boil water and add jaggery to it along with cardamom powder and saffron strands.
7. Add jaggery syrup to dal rice mixture and mix well.
8. In 2 tbsp. ghee, fry the nuts of your choice like cashews, raisins or almonds. Garnish your bellam pongal and serve immediately.
Serve golden brown pongal rice, warm or reheat with little water before serving.
Sweet pongal recipes are generally made with short grain rice. You can use white rice instead of brown rice as in traditional method.
Variations and Substitutions
Fry cashew nuts in ghee and on top if you are not allergic to tree nuts. You can make this recipe with white jaggery or sugar too. Depending on the sweetener used the color may vary from light creamy to brown. Generally edible camphor is added in temples during prasad. However, it was not available so I have not added. If you wish to add, you may add a pinch of edible kapur while adding jaggery syrup to khichdi.
You can also make this recipe in an Instant pot.
Store brown rice pongal in refrigerator for 2-3 days. Always reheat sweet ponglee before consuming. You may add a spoonful of ghee for extra taste.It tends to go thicker as time passes so you can add some water or milk while reheating it on a low flame before serving.
Cooking time and water used will vary according to the rice variety used. Some people also make red rice pongal or make pongal with quinoa.
chakkara pongal | sakarai pongal |sweet pongal recipe
- frying pan
- pressure cooker
- ½ cup brown rice
- ¼ cup moong dal
- 1 tbsp. ghee
- 3 cups water
For jaggery syrup
- ⅔ cup jaggery /coconut sugar/ palm sugar/ gur
- ⅓ cup water
- Wash and soak brown rice for 30 minutes.Dry roast moong dal in a pressure cooker.
- Later add 1 tbsp. ghee in a pressure cooker and add the dry roasted dal to it.
- 3. Cook it for 3-4 minutes until it is light(not dark) brown.
- Now add soaked brown rice to it along with 3 cups water. Let it cook over a medium flame for unto 6 whistles. Note: White rice takes lesser time to cook.
- Mash chakkera pongali once the pressure releases.
For jaggery syrup
- Boil water and add jaggery to it along with cardamom powder and saffron strands.
- Add jaggery syrup to dal rice mixture and mix well.
- In 2 tbsp. oil fry the nuts of your choice like cashews,raisins or almonds. Garnish chakra pongali and serve immediately.
Brown rice is healthier due to extra fiber and extra protein.
Yes as it contains bran.It is also gluten free and low in calories.
You can use sona masuri rice, ponni raw rice and parboiled rice varieties.Seeraga Samba rice is also a good alternative if you want to use white rice to make pongal.
Both south Indian recipes are made with rice and moong dal. However ven pongal or khara pongal has a tempering of curry leaves, cumin seeds, black pepper and salt. It is very healthy dish and helps you recover when ill.