Sweet Pongal (Sri Lankan Rice Pudding) Recipe and Food Photography by Shika Finnemore, The Bellephant

Sweet Pongal / Sri Lankan Rice Pudding

There are two types of Pongal dishes – this Sweet Pongal (Sri Lankan Rice Pudding) is definitely my favourite. If your a fan of rice puddings definitely give it a go. Filled with the sweetness of jaggery and yummy cashew nuts it’s easy to overindulge on this treat!

We enjoy Sweet Pongal on special occasions such as the Sri Lankan New Year and Thai Pongal (Tamil Harvest Festival). My mum always attempts to make enough for two days. We always demolish it in one as my entire family can’t resist it  – even if she attempts to hide some!

Traditionally, Sweet Pongal is cooked on afire with a brand new clay pot. We still uphold this tradition a little by cooking it in a new pot but we sure do skip the fire part! In Sri Lanka and India on ‘Thai Pongal’, a special harvest celebration every January, people cook it outside. There is a belief that when you cook Sweet Pongal if the milk overflows it is a sign of prosperity and a successful harvest.

What’s key to making Pongal is cooking the rice until it’s really soft. Be sure to adjust the cooking time to ensure this as different brands/varieties of red raw rice can take slightly longer. You can also play around with the amount of jaggery you add to suit your sweet tooth.

If you try this recipe out, be sure to tag me using #thebellephant on InstagramTwitter or Facebook.

Sweet Pongal / Sri Lankan Rice Pudding

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serves: 8


  • 400g red raw rice
  • 1800ml water
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 200g jaggery, chopped
  • 75g cashew nuts, chopped
  • 50g raisins
  • 2 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. In a large pan, add the red raw rice and water. Bring to the boil and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, mix the jaggery into the coconut milk. (It doesn't have to fully dissolve.)
  3. Once the rice is soft, stir in the remaining ingredients and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Leave to sit for a few minutes before serving. Refrigerate leftovers and enjoy cold or just reheat to enjoy warm.


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