Homemade “Instant” Pongal

“Mom, what’s for ………………?”

How many of you dread this question? (Fill in the blank with breakfast/ lunch/ snack/ dinner.)

It’s not so much the cooking that bothers me; rather, it’s the planning, pulling out everything needed, cooking, cleaning up, and putting the stuff away, only to do it all over again in a few hours. It’s nice to have a couple things handy to just pull out of the pantry or refrigerator, and do the final touches. No dealing with chopping boards, peeling onions, spice containers, or dirty dishes (well, atleast, not as many).

I make instant upma mix at home for breakfast several times a month. All it requires at meal time is a HOT cup of water. Just stir water and mix, allow it to sit covered for few minutes, and your hot meal is ready. I wanted to try some more recipes like this and played around with a few ideas. Pongal / kichidi was something that seemed possible. After two attempts, I finally arrived at the recipe below. While not as simple as the instant upma, this pongal mix is ready to be cooked. Just add water, mix and salt to a pressure cooker, and your meal is ready in a few minutes. Give it a try.

Quick, easy and satisfying. For a healthy meal, serve with a side of coconut chutney  and a vegetable.

NOTE: For a lower carb version, check out the recipe for Savory Quinoa Pongal.

Homemade “Instant” Pongal

(Entire recipe serves atleast 10-12 people)

  • 2 cups rice
  • 1 cup split yellow mung dal
  • 4 Tbsp ghee
  • 1 cinnamon stick (broken into large pieces)
  • 4 cloves
  • 3 red chillies (snap in half)
  • 1/2 cup cashew pieces
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (stripped, washed, and dried)
  • 1 Tbsp black pepper corn
  • 3 Tbsp cumin/jeera seeds
  • 3/4 cup grated coconut, optional

1) Roast dal on a medium-high flame for a few minutes, stirring often. Make sure it does not brown. Cool.

2) In a large pan, heat ghee on medium flame, making sure it does not smoke.

3) Add the cinnamon and cloves and fry for a few seconds.

4) Add the red chillies and curry leaves; partially cover lid so it does not splatter out of the pan.

5) Add cashews and roast till light golden.

6) Add the pepper and jeera and fry for a few seconds.

7) Add the rice & dal and mix well. Turn off heat and cool completely. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for a few weeks.

TO COOK PONGAL:

1) Add 1 cup of the pongal mix, 3 cups water & 1 tsp salt to a pressure cooker pan, and stir well.

2) Cook on a medium flame for 2-3 whistles and turn off stove.

3) Allow the pressure to release and remove pongal; stir again and serve hot with ghee and coconut chutney.

4) Serves 3-4

NOTE: Many variations of pongal exist, and the ingredients in this recipe can be adapted to suit your taste. You may also reduce the amount of water in the final round of cooking to 2 1/2 cups. Just remember that the pongal will absorb water as it cools, making it thicker.

To make a vegan version, skip the ghee and use a few spoons of oil.

“Instant” Plain Pongal (Milder version)

This version is good for kids or for those who like milder food.

  • 2 cup rice
  • 1 cup yellow split moong dal
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ghee or oil (ghee preferred)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorn
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 sprig curry leaves

1) On medium flame, dry roast the moong dal for a few minutes, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Do not brown. Turn off stove, stir in rice and set aside.

2)In a saute pan, heat the ghee / oil.

3) Add pepper & cumin seeds and allow to pop.

4) Add the curry leaves and cover partially with a lid. The moisture in the leaves will make them crackle and pop, and it might splatter out.

5) Add cashews and roast till light golden in color.

6) Turn off stove and add the rice & dal mixture. Stir well and allow to cool. Store in the refrigerator.

To Prepare Pongal:

1 cup rice & dal mix
2 1/2 – 3 cups water
1 tsp salt
Add all ingredients to a pressure cooker and cook on medium for 2-3 whistles. Allow to cool few minutes and remove. Serve with coconut chutney.
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