Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Turmeric Pongal

Have you ever wondered how many favorites foods you have that your mom cooks? I often think about them, make and enjoy them with my family. My mom, is a wonderful cook, cooking amazing yummy food every day. She has a lot of magic in her hands. She cooks regular Iyengar cuisine most of the time though she also cooks a little of others too. But, each and every recipe of hers is a keeper, whether it is a simple dal, sambhar, curry, rasam, sweets to the most complicated pickling....she is the best. No wonder I loved her cooking and learned a lot from her. Like for everyone, she is my best teacher. 

I have many favorites from her cooking and one among them is Manjal Pongal or Turmeric Pongal. She makes this on auspicious Fridays in the Tamil lunar months of Aadi and Thai. This can be made on any day and its best served with puli kuzhambu, a tangy gravy made with tamarind. I can guess what you are thinking - pongal with turmeric....Turmeric pongal, has a very distinct flavor though it is similar to the regular dal rice...Pssst....there is a secret ingredient....not ghee but coconut oil. Yes, the coconut oil gives a wonderful flavor to this rice, quite different from the regular meal. 

Turmeric has been used for a very long time in Indian cuisine. No meal is cooked without turmeric, at least a pinch of it is used. It has a unique spot in our culture. It is offered to the ladies when they come to our home, right before we do any pooja we make small tiny Ganesha out of turmeric and start our prayers. It is used in Ayurveda as well as in many simple home remedies. The rhizome which is mainly used in powdered form, has tons of health benefits right from antiseptic, to treat cold, cough, actually, the list can go very long. Nowadays we can find turmeric capsules and recent research is carried out for its benefit in treating cancer. No wonder, our great forefathers used this in everyday cooking to lead a hale and healthy life. Last Friday, was an auspicious day of the Thai month for us, made this pongal and I am posting the recipe here for you to try.


serves 4 people

Rice - 1 cup
Toor dhal-  1/4 plus 2 tbsp
Water - 2 cups plus 1/2 cup
Salt -1/2  tsp
Turmeric powder -1/2 tsp
Coconut oil - 6 tbsp


Wash rice and toor dhal. Add water, turmeric, and cook or three whistles in a pressure cooker.

Once the pressure is all released, add salt and mash a little but not completely.

Then add coconut oil and mix thoroughly.

Somebody here is sneaking a ball of pongal.......

Serve with puli kuzhambu.


For the type of rice that I use, 2 cups of water are sufficient. Adjust water according to the type of rice you use.