Rava Pongal (Sooji Pongal)

5 from 5 votes

Rava Pongal (Sooji Pongal, Semolina Pongal) is a healthy South Indian breakfast recipe made using rava (sooji, semolina) and yellow moong dal. Make this wholesome dish using a few pantry staples.

I love South Indian breakfasts for their simple flavors. Here are more of my favorite South Indian-style morning breakfast recipes: Rava Upma, Ragi Idli, Egg Dosa, and Ragi Vermicelli.

Rava pongal served in a bowl.
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Some recipes need a lot of improvisation, and this rava pongal is one for me. When I started to cook this recipe, I cooked the rava and rice together. It was a hot mess. The cooker spewed everything out, and my kitchen took at least an hour to clean.

The next time, I forgot to roast the rava, and the pongal was a hot mess again. However, the experiment taught me that roasting sooji is essential.

Then, I came up with the idea of cooking rice and rava separately and mixing them later. This approach worked. Now I make rava pongal frequently for breakfast.

About Rava Pongal

Rava Pongal (also known as sooji pongal, rava khara pongal, or semolina pongal) is a South Indian dish made with semolina and yellow moong lentils.

It is a variation of the classic Ven Pongal, where rice is replaced with rava.

You can serve it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner or pack it in the lunchbox. You can also make it for the festival of pongal.

I like to serve rava pongal with Mango Pickle, White Coconut Chutney, and a drizzle of ghee. You can also serve it with Peanut Chutney, Red Chilli Coconut Chutney, or any other chutney you like.

This rava pongal recipe is vegetarian and can easily be made vegan. It can be made in a traditional pressure cooker or an instant pot. I share both methods in the post below.

Ingredients

Rava – This pongal is prepared with a coarse variety of rava (semolina), also known as Bombay rava. Do not use the fine sooji or Bansi sooji to make pongal; otherwise, it will turn out mushy.

Sooji is lightly roasted before adding to the cooker with other ingredients. Do not brown it; otherwise, it will change the color of your pongal. You can buy already roasted rava to speed up the process.

Dal – You will need yellow moong dal (split and skinned moong lentils).

Ginger – Fresh ginger adds a subtle flavor, making this pongal even more delicious. So do not miss this one.

For Tempering – Pongal is tempered with ghee, cumin seeds, asafetida (hing), curry leaves, green chilies, cashew nuts, and black peppercorns.

Use ghee (not oil) for tempering, as it adds a lovely, rich, authentic taste.

To make the recipe vegan, you can replace ghee with coconut oil.

Adjust the green chilies as per your taste.

Cashew nuts are optional, but they add a nice crunch. You can replace them with peanuts or almonds.

How To Make Sooji Pongal

Prepare The Moong Dal

Rinse ¼ cup yellow moong dal with water and drain the water well.

Line a baking tray or a large plate with a kitchen cloth and spread the dal on it.

Let it air dry for 20 minutes.

Rinsed moong dal spread on a tray lined with moong dal.

Cook The Dal

In A Pressure Cooker

Add the dal to a pressure cooker and roast on medium heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Moong dal added to a pressure cooker.
Roasted moong dal.

Add the following ingredients to the cooker and stir well.

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Water, ginger, salt added to the cooker.

Close the cooker’s lid and cook for 1 whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 12 minutes.

Lid of the cooker closed.

Remove the cooker from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.

Open the lid and mash the dal until smooth using a wire whisk or the back of a spoon.

Cooked moong dal.
Mashed moong dal.

In An Instant Pot

Press the SAUTE button.

Add the dal to the instant pot and roast until lightly browned, stirring frequently.

Add water, grated ginger, and salt to the cooker and stir well.

Close the instant pot lid and set the valve to the sealing position.

Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 12 minutes at high pressure.

Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.

Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.

Mash the dal until smooth using a wire whisk or the back of a spoon.

Roast The Rava

Add ½ cup Bombay rava to a small pan and roast it on medium heat until slightly fragrant (2-3 minutes), stirring continuously.

Do not over-roast the rava. You don’t want to brown it.

Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

Roasted rava in a pan.

Make The Pongal

Heat 2 cups of water in a pan over medium heat.

Water boiling in a pan.

Once the water starts to boil, add the roasted rava slowly and whisk using a wire whisk until a smooth, lump-free mixture is formed.

Rava being whisked in water.
Smooth mixture of rava and water made in the pan.

Add the cooked dal to the pan and mix well.

Add some more water if the mixture looks thick.

Cooked moong dal added to the pan.
Mixed well.

Reduce the heat to low.

Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times.

Check for salt and add more if needed.

Pan covered with a lid.

Temper The Pongal

Heat 2 tablespoon ghee for tempering in a small skillet over medium-high heat.

Ghee heating in a pan.

Add the following ingredients once the ghee is hot, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2-3 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 6-8 coarsely crushed black peppercorns
Cumin, curry leaves, chilies, asafetida and peppercorns added to the pan

Add 10-12 whole cashew nuts and fry until slightly browned (1-2 minutes), stirring frequently. 

Cashew nuts added to the pan.
Fried cashew nuts.

Pour the tempering over the pongal and mix well. Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambhar.

Tip – Save some tempering to garnish the ready pongal.

Tempering poured over rava pongal.
Ready rava pongal.

Pro Tips By Neha

Make sure the pongal is not lumpy. Roasting the rava helps a lot and is a must to prevent it from clumping up.

Use coarse rava to make pongal. Coarse rava is also called Bombay Rava.

To speed up the process, you can roast the rava in bulk and store it in an airtight container whenever you have spare time. You can then use this roasted rava to make many other dishes.

This pongal tastes best when prepared fresh. Make the quantity only for one meal. If you have more, add some water to it before refrigerating. The pongal becomes thicker when refrigerated; adding some water will ensure consistency.

Adding a generous amount of ghee is essential to make a good rava khara pongal recipe. Otherwise, it will become like a paste.

Add finely chopped veggies, like carrots, beans, etc., to this dish to make it wholesome.

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Rava Pongal (Sooji Pongal, Semolina Pongal) is a healthy South Indian breakfast recipe made using rava (sooji, semolina) and yellow moong dal. Make this wholesome dish using a few pantry staples.
5 from 5 votes

Rava Pongal Recipe (Sooji Pongal, Semolina Pongal)

Rava Pongal (Sooji Pongal, Semolina Pongal) is a healthy South Indian breakfast recipe made using rava (sooji, semolina) and yellow moong dal. Make this wholesome dish using a few pantry staples.
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Air Drying Time: 20 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

  • ½ cup Bombay rava (semolina)
  • ¼ cup yellow moong dal (skinned petite yellow lentils)
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger

For Tempering

  • 2 tablespoons ghee (use coconut oil for a vegan recipe)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon asafetida (hing)
  • 10-12 curry leaves
  • 2 green chilies (slit into half)
  • 10-12 whole cashew nuts
  • 6-8 black peppercorns (coarsely crushed)
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Instructions 

Prepare The Moong Dal

  • Rinse moong dal with water and drain the water well.
  • Line a baking tray or a large plate with a kitchen cloth and spread the dal on it.
  • Let it air dry for 20 minutes.

Cook The Dal

    In A Pressure Cooker

    • Add the dal to a pressure cooker and roast on medium heat until lightly browned, stirring frequently.
    • Add 1 cup of water, ginger, and salt to the cooker and stir well.
    • Close the lid of the cooker and cook for 1 whistle on high heat. Then, reduce the heat to low and cook for 12 minutes.
    • Remove the cooker from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
    • Open the lid and mash the dal until smooth using a wire whisk or the back of a ladle.

    In An Instant Pot

    • Press the SAUTE button.
    • Add the dal to the instant pot and roast until lightly browned, stirring very frequently.
    • Add water, grated ginger, and salt to the cooker and stir well.
    • Close the lid of the instant pot and set the valve to the sealing position.
    • Press PRESSURE COOK and set the timer to 12 minutes at high pressure.
    • Once the timer goes off, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes.
    • Release the remaining pressure manually and open the lid.
    • Mash the dal until smooth using a wire whisk or the back of a ladle.

    Roast The Rava

    • Add rava to a small pan and roast it on medium heat until slightly fragrant (2-3 minutes), stirring continuously.
    • Do not over-roast the rava. You don’t want to brown it.
    • Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

    Make The Pongal

    • Heat 2 cups of water in a pan over medium heat.
    • Once the water starts to boil, add the roasted rava slowly and whisk using a wire whisk until a smooth, lump-free mixture is formed.
    • Add the cooked moong dal to the pan and mix well.
    • Add some more water if the mixture looks thick.
    • Reduce the heat to low.
    • Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring a few times.
    • Check for salt and add more if needed.

    Temper The Pongal

    • Heat ghee for tempering in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
    • Once the ghee is hot, add cumin seeds, asafetida, curry leaves, green chilies, and black peppercorns, and let them crackle for 4-5 seconds.
    • Add cashew nuts and fry until they are slightly browned (1-2 minutes), stirring frequently. 
    • Pour the tempering over the pongal and mix well. Serve hot with coconut chutney and sambhar.
    • Tip – Save some tempering to garnish the ready pongal.

    Video

    YouTube video

    Notes

    Sooji is lightly roasted before adding to the cooker with other ingredients. Do not brown it; otherwise, it will change the color of your pongal. 
    Adjust the green chilies as per your taste.
    Make sure the pongal is not lumpy. Roasting the rava helps a lot and is a must to prevent it from clumping up.
    Use coarse rava to make pongal. Coarse rava is also called Bombay Rava.
    Adding enough ghee is important to make good pongal; otherwise, it will become pasty.

    Nutrition

    Calories: 122kcal, Carbohydrates: 9g, Protein: 3g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 20mg, Sodium: 108mg, Potassium: 114mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 95IU, Vitamin C: 53.2mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg
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