Pongal thali

BM #116 : Week 1, Day 2
Theme : Regional Thali

Pongal is the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu and is a really big festival there. Its traditional to prepare colorful variety rices on the third day of Pongal. I have done a post before detailing the festival here, you can read about it there if you are interested.

This is part of the meal I prepared during Pongal time, so this one is from my drafts :-). I wasn’t planning to take a picture of this thali, but I got a little time before our guests arrived for lunch. So I grabbed a plate and filled it with whatever dishes I could, kept it on the floor and clicked a few pictures. Our guests had reached before I was done and so there is no elaborate pictures or even the picture of the complete meal that we enjoyed. I didn’t add the vegetables or papadam and some other side dishes too in the picture. I was literally holding the plate in my hand when they arrived :D! Since we met right after Pongal, I skipped the traditional sweet Pongal and venpongal. We all had it at our respective houses on the actual day of Pongal.

Traditional South Indian feasts more or less feature the same basic dishes like sambar, rasam, avial and porial. So for Pongal, I like to prepare the variety rice thali if we have someone coming over. This was the last time I prepared a vada at home, because I found out about the frozen vadas soon after this. I love the taste of homemade vada, but I like it that you can defrost and have a single vada whenever you want as opposed to making one whole batch and having to finish it in a day or two.

The plate has

  1. Plain rice
  2. Sambar
  3. Vada
  4. Curd rice with pomegranate
  5. Coconut rice
  6. Lemon rice
  7. Tamarind rice
  8. Semiya payasam
  9. Rasam

Recipe source for Masala Vada : Madras Samayal


  • 1 cup Chana dal soaked for 4 hours
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1” piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 green chilies or per taste
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced coriander leaves
  • 1 tablespoon minced curry leaves
  • Salt as needed
  • Oil to deep fry


  1. Soak washed and clean Chana dal in water for at least 3-4 hours. Drain completely.
  2. In a mixie jar, pulse the garlic, ginger, green chilies and fennel a couple of times to crush it a little bit. Now add the drained Chana dal and pulse it a couple of times to get a coarse paste. Do not make a smooth purée out of the dal, it needs to be a rougher, coarse paste.
  3. Transfer the dal mix into a bowl and add the chopped onions, coriander leaves, curry leaves and salt. Mix everything well with your hands.
  4. Take a golf ball sized ball of the mixture and press it between your palms to get the shape of a vada. Repeat with the rest of the paste.
  5. Deep fry in batches in low to medium heat until the vada cooks inside and the outside turns golden brown. Do not crowd the pan with too many vadas at the same time for deep frying.
  6. Take off the heat and drain on a kitchen towel. Eat with a hot cup of coffee or tea or as a part of the meal.

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13 thoughts on “Pongal thali

  1. Yummy and comforting pongal thali. Good that you were able to click the pics before, and for me, this thali itself is complete with everything. Beautiful pics


  2. Love this variety rice thali. I usually make a similar one for adiperukku. Glad you were able to click the pics before the guests arrived. Big fan of masala vadai. Love the flavor of fennel in the vadai. So yum


  3. When I read Pongal I was looking for ven pongal in the platter and got confused. Then I figured out and am still smiling :) How our minds are trained, I wonder always.
    Anyway a wonderful medley of rice dishes and the colors are visually very appealing. I am just imagining myself at your table with the various accompaniments and I am already full. :)


  4. This is a wonderful meal with different colours and flavours Rajani. Wish you were able to capture the other dishes too. Smart move on your part to click this, imagine how hard it would have been if we had missed it..:)..On the Sankranthi we do make our regular veg feast and on other festivals, we make different rice dishes. anyway traditions are what we make for ourselves..:)


  5. Another beautiful Thali !
    The colours look vibrant and even though you have not placed all the dishes , it still looks complete to me . Love the visual effect of this thali .
    I always thought sweet pongal was mandatory for a pongal meal , correct me if I am wrong .
    And yes ..It’s hard to cook when we have guests , I am never able to – my blog says – cook special meals for me !


  6. That sure looks like a feast even without including the other side dishes in that platter Your guests must have had a blast. I end up making savory and sweet versions of pongal nowadays but my mother says her mother rarely made the pongals on Sankranthi which is a big festival in Andhra as well. Urad vadas, rice kheer and tamarind rice were the mandatory features of the festival meal along with other stuff. I am surprised at your patience to cook three savory rice dishes. I would have gone with the simple lemon rice. :) And masala vadas are my favorite sans garlic though. :)


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