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Khara Huggi or Pongal

From the Epicurious website comes this true Indian comfort food.  Similar rice and lentil dishes abound throughout India often known by different names.  Khara Huggi is more of a north India recipe.  In the south it is known as Pongal.  By any name it is delicious.  The aroma will no doubt recall other Indian dishes but what makes this so special is the way it is prepared.  It turns out creamy smooth almost like an Italian risotto.

1 cup basmati or jasmine rice
  cup red lentils
  teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons plus teaspoon ghee or unsalted butter
1" grated or finely minced ginger
2 tablespoons chopped cashews (optional)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
teaspoon ground black pepper
1  teaspoon salt
  cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut
big pinch asafetida (hing) powder (see notes)

Wash the rice in several changes of water until the water runs clear.  Soak the rice in water, generously covered, for at least 30 minutes (see notes).  Drain thoroughly.

In a soup pot or Dutch oven, dry roast the lentils, stirring often, over medium heat until they are golden brown and have a nutty aroma - 2 to 3 minutes (see notes).  Wash the lentils using a fine mesh strainer and return them to the pot along with the rice, and add 3  cups of water.  Bring it a boil skimming the foam off the top.  Add the turmeric, 2 tablespoons of the ghee/butter and the ginger to the boiling mixture.

While the rice and lentils are cooking put about   teaspoon of the ghee/butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Add the cashews (if using), stirring them until they are fragrant and turn a golden brown (a few minutes.)    Set the cashews aside to cool in a small bowl lined with a paper towel to absorb excess oils.

When the rice and lentils are done the lentils should be soft and mushy.  Stirred together the rice and lentils take on a creamy texture similar to Risotto.  Add in the salt, coconut and fried cashews mixing well.  Remove from heat.

Put the remaining ghee/butter into the small saucepan over medium heat.  When melted add the black pepper, cumin and the asafetida and saute for as few seconds until fragrant.  Immediately pour the spiced ghee over the rice.  Taste for salt and adjust as needed.


  1. Dry roasting the lentils is optional and is done to reduce the stickiness of the dal.

  2. Not everyone has cashews on hand so consider them optional.  The dish is quite delicious without them.

  3. Soaking the rice is optional but results in softer, more evenly cooked rice.




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