Sweet pongal is a classic south Indian sweet prepared with rice, moong dal, jaggery, dry fruits, ghee and flavoured with cardamom and edible camphor. This instant pot sweet pongal recipe is a keeper recipe for its efficient and hassle-free way.
There are 2 types of pongal dishes in south Indian cuisine. Both dishes are made with rice and yellow moong dal. Ven pongal (khara pongal) - the savoury version made with black pepper and cumin seeds as the main ingredients and the sweet version is this sweet pongal made with jaggery.
Sweet pongal is called sakkarai pongal (chakkarai pongal) in Tamil Nadu and chakkara pongali in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. It is a heavenly south Indian sweet dish prepared on special occasions, auspicious days and festivals.
It is also one of the divine dishes offered to devotees in most temples in South India as a prasadam.
This sweet jaggery rice is a traditional dish made in south Indian households on the harvest festival Makara Sankranti (Pongal festival) to offer gratification to the sun god. It is celebrated for 4 days.
On the second festival day, sweet pongal is cooked in an earthen pot with freshly harvested rice and other ingredients. The word pongal means “overflow” hence the pot of cooking rice may bubble up and overflow, which symbolises prosperity and abundance of crops for farmers.
Cooking sweet pongal in an instant pot is a breeze and gets done without much effort of constant stirring or babysitting. Unlike the classical method, it’s unnecessary to make jaggery syrup with jaggery block in a separate pan.
I placed the jaggery inside the pot along with rice and dal mixtures in a pot-in-pot technique. By the time pongal cooks, jaggery melts.
This is a temple-style recipe where milk is not used. There are other versions wherein the milk is used for a rich taste, few people use half sugar and half jaggery.
Instant pot sweet pongal recipe is so simple that you can prepare it anytime. Craving for Indian sweets? looking for a south Indian dessert to go with a weekend feast? So why wait until special days or makar sankranti? Make this tasty sweet pongal.
Why will you love instant pot sweet pongal?
It’s a convenient and mess-free method
Zero monitoring required
No extra step to make jaggery syrup
- Rice: I used sona masoori, but any short grain rice will work.
- Lentils: Yellow moong dal (pasi paruppu/split yellow lentils) are used in pongal.
- Sweetener: Jaggery to sweeten the pongal. Both block or in powdered form works well.
- Liquids: Water to cook pongal and ghee (clarified butter) to fry nuts and raisins.
- Flavouring Agent: Cardamom powder, nutmeg powder and edible camphor to enhance flavour and aroma.
- Nuts and dried Fruits: Cashew nuts and raisins are used here.
Find the quantities and a short video in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Rinse and wash the rice and soak it in sufficient water for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, plug in an instant pot and press SAUTE button to turn the saute mode ON.
Dry roast the moong dal for 5-8 minutes until it is fragrant and starts to turn golden brown.
Press the CANCEL button and transfer the lentils to a bowl. Wash the roasted lentils and keep it aside to use later.
Press the SAUTE button again and add the ghee.
Once the ghee melts and is hot, add cashews, raisins and fry for a minute or two until the raisins swell and the cashews start turning light brown.
Remove the fried cashews and raisins from the pot and keep them on a plate to use later.
Drain the water from the soaked rice and moong dal. Add both of them to the pot.
Now add water and stir well.
In a steel container put broken jaggery block and ¼ cup water.
Put the trivet and keep a steel container with jaggery.
Close the pot with its lid, turn the pressure valve to the SEALING position.
Press the PRESSURE COOK/MANUAL button, set the timer for 8 minutes at high pressure.
Initially, the instant pot displays ON and the timer countdown starts once the pressure builds up.
Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 mins.
After 10 minutes, turn the pressure valve to the VENT position, wait until the pressure is released completely and the small knob next to the pressure valve drops.
Take the lid off the pot, remove the steel container with melted jaggery and the trivet.
Now add the jaggery water, cardamon, nutmeg, edible camphor, fried cashews and raisins to the rice dal mixture.
Stir well until everything incorporates well.
Delicious sweet pongal is ready to enjoy!
Substitutions and Variations
For the vegan version, substitute ghee with vegan butter.
Edible camphor not only infuses lovely aroma and taste but is used to replicate the taste of the pongal offered in south Indian temples. It is available in most south Indian stores. Skip it if you don’t have it on hand.
You could use powdered jaggery instead of a block. Add it to the cooked rice and lentil mixture at the end. Unlike the jaggery block, it’s needless to melt powdered jaggery.
For a healthier version, use brown rice or millet to make this instant pot pongal.
Milk adds a rich taste. You could replace 1 cup water with a cup of milk.
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Tips and Tricks
Roast: It is essential to dry roast moong dal as it gives pongal a good texture and taste.
Strain: Pass the jaggery water through the steel strainer to remove any debris if present before adding it to the cooked pongal.
Before straining, press the jaggery lumps with the back of the spoon to break them and then stir well. Lumps would be soft and it’s unnecessary to put a lot of pressure.
Edible camphor: It not only infuses nice aroma and taste but is used to replicate the taste of the pongal offered in south Indian temples. Skip it if you don’t have it on hand.
A pinch of edible camphor goes a long way to infuse the lovely flavour and elevate the taste of the pongal. Do not add too much as it overpowers the true flavour of sweet pongal.
Jaggery Lumps: It’s not really necessary to break jaggery lumps if you don’t want to strain melted jaggery.
Water Quantity: The amount of water required to make this Indian sweet dish differs depending on the type of rice you use. In this instant pot dessert recipe, I have used sona masoori raw rice.
Ratio: The rice and lentil ratio is a personal preference. I use 2:1 - 2 cups of rice and 1 cup of moong dal (1 cup of rice and ½ cup of moong dal). You may choose 1:1 or 3:1. It's absolutely a personal choice.
Consistency: Pongal thickens as it cools. So do not worry if the pongal looks overly thin and runny once you open the pot. Eventually, you will get the right consistency as it cools.
Deglaze the inner pot well prior to closing it with a lid to avoid the BURN message.
Cooking Time: It varies depending on the volume you cook and the type of water you use. Extremely hard water takes a long time to cook.
Total Time: The time set on an instant pot is not the total time taken to cook instant pot sweet pongal. The Instant pot takes its time to build the pressure depending on the quantity in the pot before the timer starts the countdown. So, the total time would be time to build pressure + timer countdown + natural pressure release time.
Rice Variety: Short grain rice such as ponni, sona masoori rice or jeera samba are used. However, use basmati or long-grained rice if you have them on hand.
Rice Water Ratio: Sweet pongal recipe requires a lot more water than normal rice or flavoured rice recipe. For 1 cup rice, 3.5 cups of water have been used to get the right consistency.
Ghee: A good amount of ghee is required to make this instant pot sakkarai pongal to get that gooey texture.
Fridge: Store leftover sweet pongal in the fridge in an airtight container and finish it up in 3-4 days.
Reheat: Place sweet pongal in a microwave-safe bowl and heat it in the microwave oven until piping hot. Stir at regular intervals for uniform heating.
If the pongal is really thick, use hot water to loosen it up. Pour a little hot water into a pongal bowl and stir until well combined. Put the bowl back in the microwave and heat until piping hot.
The colour of the pongal depends on the jaggery. Dark-coloured jaggery gives the pongal that classic deep brown colour. However, use whichever jaggery is available in nearby Indian grocery stores. Don’t worry if pongal turns out light and pale. The colour won’t affect the pongal taste.
The hardest part of making Indian sweets with jaggery is dealing with the rock-hard jaggery!! Don’t you agree? The simple trick is to soften it and then break it rather than trying to break hard jaggery.
Place the jaggery block in a microwave-safe bowl/plate, and heat it in the microwave for 8-10 seconds at a medium power level. Either press the softened jaggery with your fingers to break it or cut it with a knife.
The time it takes to soften the jaggery varies depending on the size of the jaggery block and microwave settings. So keep an eye while heating in the microwave. Do not let jaggery melt rather heat just until it turns soft.
Sweet pongal turns out too thick because of insufficient water. Add half a cup of hot water and stir well. If the pongal still looks thick, add another half cup of water steadily while stirring.
Keep a few cups water ready in the kettle just in case you need more liquid to get the right consistency. Once the pongal reaches the desired consistency, you could add a tablespoon of ghee and half a teaspoon cardamom powder to enhance the flavour.
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📖 Recipe Card
Instant Pot Sweet Pongal Recipe
1 Cup = 250ml ; 1 Tablespoon = 15ml ; 1 Teaspoon = 5ml
- Rinse and wash the rice and soak it in sufficient water for 10 minutes.250 gms (or) 1 cup Rice
- Meanwhile, plug in an instant pot and press SAUTE button to turn the saute mode ON.
- Dry roast the moong dal for 5-8 minutes until it is fragrant and starts to turn golden brown.125 gms (or) ½ cup Moong Dal
- Press the CANCEL button and transfer the lentils to a bowl. Wash the roasted lentils and keep it aside to use later.
- Press the SAUTE button again and add the ghee.3 Tablespoons Ghee
- Once the ghee melts and is hot, add cashews, raisins and fry for a minute or two until the raisins swell and the cashews start turning light brown.10 Cashew Nuts, 20 gms Raisins
- Remove the fried cashews and raisins from the pot and keep them on a plate to use later.
- Drain the water from the soaked rice and moong dal. Add both of them to the pot.250 gms (or) 1 cup Rice, 125 gms (or) ½ cup Moong Dal
- Now add water and stir well.7 + ¼ Cups Water
- In a steel container put broken jaggery block and ¼ cup water.400 gms (or) 4 cups Jaggery, 7 + ¼ Cups Water
- Put the trivet and keep a steel container with jaggery.
- Close the pot with its lid, turn the pressure valve to the SEALING position.
- Press the PRESSURE COOK/MANUAL button, set the timer for 8 minutes at high pressure.
- Initially, the instant pot displays ON and the timer countdown starts once the pressure builds up.
- Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 mins.
- After 10 minutes, turn the pressure valve to the VENT position, wait until the pressure is released completely and the small knob next to the pressure valve drops.
- Take the lid off the pot, remove the steel container with melted jaggery and the trivet.
- Now add the jaggery water, cardamon, nutmeg powder, edible camphor, fried cashews and raisins to the rice dal mixture.1 Teaspoon Cardamom Powder, a pinch Edible Camphor, big pinch Nutmeg Powder
- Stir well until everything incorporates well.
- Delicious sweet pongal is ready to enjoy!