In South Indian cooking, Pongal is as basic as it gets.
Rice+ lentils+ spices + ghee, that’s it…and you have an easy meal in one pot.
But often one eats pongal and feels ready to take a nap. Reason being white rice and moong dal are high in carbs.
Wait, you knew about rice already. But, wasn’t moong dal supposed to be high in protein?
Well, you see – Composition of mung Beans = 74% carb + 23% protein + 3% fat.
So, while the dal has protein levels better than white rice (7% protein); the combination of all the rice (92% carbs) and lentils (74% carbs) finally gives you a dish steeped in carbohydrates.
One way to counteract the high carb content is to bump up the fiber levels. This will in-turn lower the glycemic load of the meal and lower the rate of sugar rush following the meal.
Upgrade my pongal
- Use barley instead of white rice – Each cup of cooked barley has 6g of fiber compared to 0.6g of fiber in white rice. That is 10 times the fiber!!
- Cut up a squishy, white, vegetable (like zucchini or bottle gourd) in and mash it in. Shhh..no one will know, additionally, we would have lowered the carb density of the dish without any complaints :).
- Use unpolished split moong dal instead of polished – more fiber
- Replace cashews with sunflower seeds – Arrgg…cashews, one of the most pointless nuts (according to me) can be replaced with any other seed or nut really!! Here, I have used sunflower seeds – more protein, more fiber, more vit E.
- 1 cup barley (soaked overnight)
- 1/2 cup unhusked green gram dal
- 1 zucchini chopped
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp peppercorns
- 1 inch ginger grated
- 6-7 curry leaves
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp roasted sunflower seeds
Soak barley overnight to allow cooking time to be on par with green gram dal.
Roast green gram dhal for 2 minutes. This is standard protocol for pongal, it improves the aroma of the dish.
Add soaked barley, 4 cups water and zucchini cubes to dhal and stir. You can reduce the water for thicker consistency. Pressure cook and set aside.
Heat butter in a small pan and add cumin seeds, pepper, ginger and curry leaves. Cook well. Now, add this to the cooked rice mixture.
Add salt, sunflower seeds, stir well.
Serve with tangy sambar, kuzhambu or spicy chutney.
Step by step Pics
1. Soak barley overnight to reduce cooking time.
2. Dry roast green gram dhal in cooker.
3. Add soaked barley, zucchini cuber, water and pressure cook the mixture.
4. Get the panch -kalyani ready. (This was the keyword my dad used, to remind me that 5-spice ingredients go into a pongal)
5. Melt butter in a pan
6. Add spice ingredients
7. Mix well with salt, seeds and serve
Barley is such a powerful grain. Eat it and you won’t feel hungry for a few hours. Did you know about 85% of barley produced in the world goes to animal feed. Major portion of remaining grain goes for beer production. But there was a time when Roman gladiators were fed barley, so much so that they were called hordearii (literally means barley men). Have you tried barley? Do share your thoughts down below in the comments section or on my Blog Facebook page
If you prepare this recipe, please share your experience with the rest of the community. I always love to hear from all my readers….