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Instant Pot Quinoa Pongal

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A delectable and scrumptious one-pot dish made with Quinoa and Moong dal called Pongal. Its a south Indian Breakfast dish, usually called ven Pongal or Khara Pongal. Traditionally, its made with rice, moong dal, ghee, pepper and cumin and served with pickle, coconut chutney and sambhar. It has a mushy consistency like a porridge and supposed to reach your stomach without any chewing. It is kinda like the “Khichdi” of the South India and a perfect dish for winters. This Pongal is creamy, savory and rich, truly, comfort food at its best!

Quinoa pongal with cashews and curry leaves on top.

What is pongal?

Pongal in Tamil literally means “boiling over” or overflowing. Usually, milk is left to boil over in a clay pot and the boiling over means over abundance of harvest for that household. Pongal is made during the “Pongal festival” known as Sankranthi in other regions of India. Pongal festival is celebrated by cooking new harvest i.e. rice. There are two types of pongal, one is sweet variety made with milk, rice and sugar called Chakkara pongali and other savory version is called Ven pongal or Khara pongal. Both are creamy and delicious with abundance of ghee and cashews in them.

Why make it with quinoa?

Quinoa is an edible seed from south America and it has all the nine amino acids, rich in protein and fiber and is loaded with vitamins and minerals as compared to any other grains. The Incas used to call it “Mother Grain” and its available in 3 different colors. It is a complete protein, has antioxidant properties, low carb and improves blood sugar. Quinoa seeds are covered with bitter tasting saponins that naturally repel insects and birds. So before we cook, its good to wash it nicely under running water. It tastes almost the same as rice, so any recipes using rice can be interchanged with quinoa. I use pre-washed quinoa in my recipes.

We are always looking ways to incorporate quinoa into our meals, we love it! We eat quinoa in place of rice but my kids honestly aren’t big fans of quinoa unless its in some remodeled form. I make quinoa dosas only for them and they don’t even know there’s quinoa in there. This pongal recipe is a perfect fit for quinoa, the taste of quinoa blends so well with moong dal and it all gets mushy and creamy together.

More quinoa recipe on the blog:

What ingredients are used in Quinoa Pongal?

The actual Pongal recipe which is made with rice was shared by my best friend when I was under the weather. I incorporated Quinoa into the original recipe and this recipe is truly delicious. We are using very few ingredients in this Pongal.

  • Quinoa, moong dal, cumin, Asafoetida and peppercorns are the basic ingredients. Whole peppercorns are added but you can use crushed pepper.
  • Green chilies and Curry leaves are highly recommended but are optional.
  • Cashews add a crunchy element to the Pongal, again I highly recommend.
  • Ghee is the most important ingredient ever, the aroma of ghee mixed with cumin and pepper is heavenly!
  • The last and final ingredient is Milk. You can use any nut milk if you want to keep it vegan. Some people do not add Milk to their Pongal because milk is more like a dessert kind of ingredient but milk adds an awesome creaminess to the Pongal. It is entirely optional though, you can use water and adjust the consistency of Pongal.
Quinoa pongal with cashews and curry leaves on top.

How to make the Quinoa Pongal in an Instant pot?

It is seriously a one-pot meal that gets done in a jiffy. Usually, most recipes of Pongal do not add milk, but some do to get that creamy consistency of a porridge. We like our Pongal to be a porridge kinda consistency, so we like adding milk. If you like it like upma or thick, skip adding the milk step. This is how its done:

  1. Wash and rinse moong dal. Turn on the sauté mode on Instant pot and when its hot, add ghee and cashews. At this point, you can remove some cashews and save it on the side to add it while serving.
  2. Add 1 pinch of Asafoetida, pepper corns/ crushed pepper and cumin seeds. Next, Add green chilies and curry leaves and sauté for 10 seconds.
  3. Quinoa goes in next, sauté till its nicely toasted and quinoa starts popping. Add washed Moong dal and sauté for a minute.
  4. Add salt and water and turn off the sauté mode. Lock the lid and set pressure cook/Manual mode for 10 minutes, Natural Pressure release(NPR).
  5. When the pressure is released, open the lid and add milk. This step is optional if you like the Pongal thick. You can just enjoy the Pongal as is without thinning it.
  6. Turn on Sauté mode and let the Pongal bubble up or just until the milk gets heated up. It takes 5 min and the Pongal gets a nice creamy consistency. Milk is optional, you can add water instead and adjust the consistency. Adjust salt and serve it hot with some pickle and sambhar.. YUM!
Process to make Quinoa pongal in Instant pot.

Can we make the Quinoa Pongal in a pressure cooker?

Yes, absolutely! Its the same process in the pressure cooker as well. So, don’t worry if you don’t have Instant pot, go ahead and make it in a pressure cooker and enjoy.

What is it eaten with?

Though Pongal is a breakfast dish, we make it a complete meal and have it as lunch or dinner on busy weekdays. The Pongal is usually served with Coconut chutney or Sambhar like in the first picture. We also like it with Mango pickle, the crunchy and tangy mango pieces go really well with the creamy and mellow tasting Pongal.

Quinoa pongal in a blue bowl with mango pickle on top.

How long does it last and how to reheat it up?

Honestly, we gobble is all up in one go and never have leftovers. But, if there are any leftovers, you can heat up in the microwave or stove-top by adding a little water. I have never frozen the Pongal, so I cannot vouch for the freezer method.

Is using quinoa in Pongal better than rice?

In my opinion, Yes! Adding Quinoa makes the Pongal rich in protein and good fats. Rice always tastes absolutely the best for us South Indians, but quinoa tastes equally good and is good for you! The quinoa blends so well with the moong dal that you can’t tell the difference. Go ahead, give it a try!

Yield: 4 servings

Quinoa Pongal

Quinoa pongal with cashews and curry leaves on top.

A south Indian Traditional dish made with quinoa and Moong dal

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time in Instant pot 15 minutes
NPR time 15 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Wash and rinse moong dal. Turn on the sauté mode on Instant pot and when its hot, add ghee and cashews.
  2. Add pepper corns/ crushed pepper and cumin seeds. Add green chilies and curry leaves and sauté for 10 seconds.
  3. Add quinoa and sauté till its nicely toasted and quinoa starts popping. Add washed Moong dal and sauté for a minute.
  4. Add salt and 4 cups water and turn off the sauté mode. Lock the lid and set pressure cook/Manual mode for 10 minutes, Natural Pressure release(NPR).
  5. When the pressure is released, open the lid and add milk. This step is optional. You can just enjoy the Pongal as is without thinning it.
  6. Turn on Sauté mode and let the Pongal bubble up, just until the milk gets heated up, for about 5 min and the Pongal gets a nice creamy consistency.
  7. If you are not using milk, add 1 cup water and bring it to a boil to get the desired consistency.

Notes

  • White Rice can be used in place of quinoa.
  • You can also use a pressure cooker to make this recipe.
  • Remove some cashews in the first step and add it just before serving.
  • Milk is optional ingredient. You can use water in place of milk to get the desired consistency. Nut milk can be used too.
  • If you like your Pongal thick and are not using milk, do not add water at the end. Simply open the Instant pot and enjoy it hot.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 230Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 6gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 26mgSodium: 280mgCarbohydrates: 24gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

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