The harvest festival Pongal is one of the most popular festivals in Tamil Nadu. This four-day festival is dedicated to Sun God and this year it will be celebrated from January 14 to January 17. It coincides with other harvest festivals like Makar Sankranti observed across the country. The celebration includes lighting a bonfire, painting the horns of buffaloes and oxen, making rangoli using rice flour and preparing delicious dishes. Many dishes are made on this day and we bring you the recipe to make Chettinad special Pongal kuzhambu. The recipe is shared with us by the Executive Chef of Radisson Blu Atria Bengaluru, Chef Kasiviswanathan. (ALSO READ Pongal 2018 Recipe: Sakshi Tanwar Makes Sakkarai Pongal, Pulihora and Chola Paniyaram for Pongal).

Pongal Kuzhambu or Chettinad Pongal Kuzhambu


Kathirikkai (Brinjal) – 3

Mochai,(Green Field Beans) fresh – 1 handful

Paragikkai (Sweet Pumkin) – 50 gms

Sakarvalli Kizhangu (Sweet potato) medium – 1

Sheppakizhangu (Colocasia/Arbi in Hindi) medium – 1

Avarakkai (Broad Beans) – 5

Vazhakkai (Raw Banana) – 1/2

Sambar onions – 10

Tomato, small – 1

Tamarind – 1 lemon size

Sambar powder – 4 tsp

Red chili powder – 1 tsp

Jaggery – 1 tsp

Salt – to taste

For tempering:

Gingelly oil – 2 tsp

Asafoetida – 1/2 spoon

Curry leaves – 1 sprig


Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup Luke warm water for 15 mins. Add 1 more cup of water, squish tamarind well and extract pulp.

Wash and chop all the veggies into cubes.

Heat 3 cups water and bring it to a rolling boil. Pour it into a hot pack or case.

First add the mochai followed by root vegetables like sweet potato, cheppakizhangu or arbi and then add rest of the vegetables.

Close the hot pack with its lid and let it rest for 1/2 hour.

Take a large vessel and add the tamarind extract, red chili powder, sambar

powder, mix well and bring it to a boil.

Open the hot pack and you can see the vegetables would have softened well. Add them along with the water to the boiling tamarind water. (ALSO READ Here’s how to make traditional Sweet Pongal to celebrate the harvest festival).

If necessary add more hot water to ensure that the water level is just above the vegetables.

Close the vessel with a lid and cook over low flame for 10-12 mins.

Add salt, mix well and cook covered for another 5-7 mins over low flame or till the vegetables are completely cooked and soft to the touch.

Heat a pan with oil. Temper with Asafoetida and curry leaves and cook for few seconds.

Pour this over the pongal kuzhambu and add jaggery, mix well and close with a lid.

Let it rest for 5 mins before serving along with paal pongal (White raw rice cooked in milk)

This pongal kuzhambu tastes much better from the next day on and upon reheating daily, will stay good for a week at room temperature itself.

Special Note: Try and use a mud pot to cook this gravy so that the taste will be even better.