Special kovakkai poriyal is the thali that all south Indians like to eat, and it’s usually made for lunch or dinner. This particular thali comes with many varieties, and this one is made of all your South Indian favourites: idli, dosa, chutney, and sambar.

Kovakkai poriyal (Galician for “raw pork cheeks”) is a dish common in Galicia (the region in the north-western part of Spain inhabited by the Galician-speaking people) and is considered a speciality to that area. It is said that it was created as a way to use the leftover meat from a pig festival for the poor. This dish is usually made with pork cheeks, but if you can’t find any, you can substitute with pork belly.

As part of the tamil festival of Thaipusam,  and the first day of the festival is the Thaipusam day called Kovakkai Poriyal, where devotees gather to form a human pyramid at the entrance of the temple. They participate in Kavadi and Poriyal, where they carry the Kavadi/Vandan or the large wooden pole in a parade. After the parade they proceed to the temple and pray for a good year ahead.

This is a chennai-style kovakkai poriyal prepared with chana dal that is extremely tasty and pairs well with plain rice and dal, as well as rasam. I tried this at a friend’s home and really like it. Tindora, also known as Kovakkai, Dondakaya, or Tindora, is a tiny green vegetable with white lines. It has a white flesh with tiny seeds on the inside. If there is red meat within, it is overripe and should be discarded.

Dondakaya (telugu), kovaikai (tamil), tindora (hindi), and ivy guard (English) are some of my favorite vegetables. When stir-fried or cooked with chana dal (bengal gram) and fresh grated coconut, it becomes a more tastier vegetable that goes well with simple dal and rice, with a drizzle of ghee on top.


    • 300 gms Kovakkai/Tindora/Dondakaya
    • 2 to 3 tablespoons chana dal (Bengal dal)
    • 1 cup (200 ml) water

Seasoning (thadka)

  • 1 tbsp. oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 15 curry leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
  • 50 to 70 gms chopped onion
  • 2 green chillies, slit
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • a pinch of salt (to taste)


  • To begin, boil the chana dal in 1 cup of water or less; it should be cooked whole rather than crushed. It should only be cooked 90 percent of the time.
  • If there is any liquid left in the pot, add the tindora and cook for one whistle (pressure cooker) or until the tindora is done.
  • Now, in a separate pot, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add the hing and curry leaves and sauté for 30 seconds.
  • Cook until the onion is tender and transparent.
  • Cook till all the water has been absorbed, then add the chana dal and tindora with its liquid and green chilies.
  • Finally, add the salt and shredded coconut, stir thoroughly, and turn off the heat.


  • Separately boil chanadal and tindora.
  • For a distinct flavor, add smashed garlic.
  • If there is no water left after boiling the chana dal and tindora, there is no need to add additional water; just cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side before adding the coconut.


The Kovakkai Poriyal is a traditional South Indian dish made using Rice, Chickpeas, Onion, Tomato, Ginger, Mustard, and Green Chillies. The original recipe is a result of a long indigenous process of fermentation of different types of food and careful selection of vegetables, spices, and nuts. The result of this cooking process is a vibrant, tangy and delicious dish that is the perfect partner to a bowl of steaming rice.. Read more about kovakkai poriyal sharmis passion and let us know what you think.