Comfort Food: Pongal

No vegetables in your fridge? Not much time on your hands? No sunshine outside? Just plain ol’ hungry? Make this easy, satisfying, healthy Pongal.

Thank you Poppy, over at Poppy’s Patisserie, for your Creamy Potato Alfredo Pasta recipe which made me think of healthy, tasty, comfort food ideas.

South Indians and rice are often inseparable, as are south Indians and pressure cookers! Pongal is actually a simple and rather basic recipe that straightforwardly combines rice (carb) with mung bean (protein). The rest is really up to the chef though the addition of turmeric is common, giving this dish its familiar, comfy, yellow hue.


This is my go-to dish on cold, rainy days or whenever I am in a hurry but still want to cook something healthy, filling, and yum. I’ve left out the ghee (clarified butter) in this version but it’s still “comforting” enough!

This recipe is suitable for diabetics, weight watchers, and comfort food cravers! Just ensure you stick to your regular portion size, because this easy-to-cook dish is easy-to-overeat!


For a hearty meal for 2 you will need:

  • 70g raw rice (=80ml in volume)
  • 70g moong dal (split mung bean without skins)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3-4 green chillies (adjust to suit your taste)
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 5-6 cashews
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp chana dal (split black chickpeas without skins)
  • 1 tsp pepper corns (bash them with a pestle for more flavour)
  • 7-10 curry leaves
  • Oil
  • Salt


All set to make this easy Pongal?


And, my TIPS for this recipe:

  • The trick to a comforting Pongal is to “overcook” the rice and dal a little bit so that it becomes slightly creamy. Add more water while cooking the rice-dal mixture than you would need to get them just cooked, and cook them for longer than you would need to get them just cooked. 
  • Add freshly ground pepper just before serving for an extra hit of peppery goodness.
  • Soaking the chana dal is optional.  However, the less you soak, the more you will have to roast the chana dal to ensure it softens enough to crunch on.
  • You can use split moong dal with the skins on for this recipe if you want more fibre. But you may not get the same golden yellow, comfort food feeling from it. There I said it — once in a while less fibre is a good break! 🙂