Opting for a healthier choice, I have been replacing rice with cracked wheat for years now and somehow we don't miss the flavor of rice that much in those dishes. Recently, quinoa has been our newfound love. When cooked, quinoa is somewhat similar to cracked wheat in texture and flavor and so this grain is a perfect choice in many south Indian style preparations such as this pongal.
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup moong dal
6 cups water (I added 3 cups milk + 3 cups water)
1/8 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
1 Tbsp peppercorns
Salt to taste
For tadka: 3 Tbsp ghee (quantity can be increased to enhance the taste), 1 tsp peeled and grated ginger, 1 Tbsp cashews (optional), 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp crushed pepper, few curry leaves
Depending upon the time factor, I choose to cook pongal either in a sturdy/nonstick pot or a pressure cooker. This time, I chose to cook the quinoa pongal in a sturdy pot.
The moong dal can be roasted till it turns light golden brown before adding it to the pot. However this step is entirely optional. My MIL used to prepare an awesome pongal with out roasting moong dal and so, naturally I skip this step.
Wash the quinoa and moong dal thoroughly and drain the water. Add the washed quinoa & moong dal, turmeric powder, peppercorns to the pot and also add about 3 cups of water / milk and keep cooking on medium flame. Keep stirring in between and also add the remaining water as needed while the cooking progresses. Cook till the quinoa and the dal are done and add salt. It can be cooked further to attain a creamy consistency if desired. The consistency of the cooked pongal can be thick, creamy or a little watery depending upon one's preference.
Now heat ghee in a small pan and add the grated ginger. When it starts to turn brown, add the remaining tadka ingredients and saute for a few more seconds. Remove from heat, add it to the cooked pongal and mix well.
Ours was served with sambhar and chutney.
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