Bellam Pongal ~ Traditional Festival Offering with Anjamma

by on October 15, 2013

BELLAM PONGAL is a sweet dish made with rice as an offering to Goddess Parvathi. The magic ingredient is the jaggery which lends the rich brown colour. The best is the red variety of jaggery, also known as paagu bellam, which I got at the local grocery store. This ANDHRA recipe has been shared by Anjammaji, a great-granny from Nellore. She recommends preparing the pongal in a mud vessel known as ‘rachiappa’. Food cooked in this vessel does not spoil easily and has a superior taste when compared to steel vessels.


Bellam Pongal Festival recipe


  • Rice – 1 cup
  • Moong dal (split yellow) – ½ cup
  • Powdered jaggery (dark red variety) – 3½ cups
  • Cashewnuts – ¼ cup, broken into bits
  • Kopra (dried coconut) – 2 tbsp, chopped into tiny bits
  • Boiled milk – ½ to 1 litre
  • Ghee – ¾ cup
  • Cardamom powder – a pinch
  • Edible camphor (pachaikarpuram) – a tiny pinch


1. Soak rice and dhal for 15 minutes, wash and strain. In a large pressure pan, add 4 cups of water and bring to boil. Add the rice and dal and allow to cook until the rice turns soft.
2. Add half the milk and continue to cook until the milk has been absorbed. Mash it gently.
3. Now add the jaggery and allow to cook. The consistency of the pongal will turn syrupy with the jaggery. As you continue to cook, the jaggery liquid will get absorbed.
4. If the jaggery is not clean, then it must be cooked in 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and strain to remove the grit. Continue with the recipe.
5. Add more milk if required and allow to cook.
6. Add the cardamom powder.
7. Meanwhile, in a small wok, roast the cashewnuts and kopra bits until they turn golden. Add these along with the ghee to the pongal.
8. Allow to cook for a couple of minutes.
9. Add the cooking camphor and immediately switch off the flame. Once cooking camphor is added, it cannot be reheated.


This recipe was first published in The Great Granny Diaries – a column in Harmony Magazine. Part-1 of this post is the interview with Anjammaji, a Telugu great-granny from Nellore.


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