Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Vadapappu Kosambari

Vadapappu Kosambari

This kosambari with yellow moong dal (Vadapappu) is an ideal Upavaasa food. They would take a while to eat, giving the body a chance to register its satisfaction and that in turn would prevent hunger pangs and overeating. Completely raw, this traditional kosambari makes a decent, light meal for health and weight-conscious people.

(for two, for one meal)

Half cup yellow moong dal – Soaked in water for about 4 hours.
1 palm-length cucumber
1 green chilli, Indian or Thai variety
2 sprigs of fresh coriander
1 tablespoon – fresh coconut gratings
Pinch of salt, or to taste

Drain and rinse moong dal. Take them in a bowl.
Finely chop cucumber, chilli and coriander leaves. Add them to moong dal.
Sprinkle salt and coconut gratings.
I also added fresh juice from a small mandarin orange for the sweet note.
Combine and serve. Enjoy with a glass of buttermilk for a light meal.

Recipe Notes:
Traditional India – Vegan, Raw and Upavaasa Food
Diet-friendly and protein rich.
Upavaasa = Fasting

If anyone decides to make this Upavaasa food, I would love to hear how you like it taste/flavorwise.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Cucumbers,Moong Dal (Washed) (Wednesday April 16, 2008 at 5:32 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Vadapappu (వడపప్పు)

Ethereal Vadapappu

With only one ingredient, this has to be the easiest neivedyam one could prepare on a festival day. A Sri Rama Navami original classic, rehydrated yellow moong dal is a delight and goes by a special name Vadapappu.

The surprising good taste comes from the simplicity of the preparation. No cooking involved. No spices, no oil and not even salt or sugar. Just soak the moong dal in water overnight. Half cup would be enough for two people. Drain. Rinse once, and consume. The taste will be extra good when prepared with split moong dal. Follow the same principle. Soak overnight, rinse the dal in several changes of water to remove the green coverings. Like mini yellow roses peeking from a rose bush, the revealed moong dal in pale yellow color will take the breath away with simple beauty.

Vadapappu may look innocent and inconspicuous but it’s a protein powerhouse, easily digestible, and nourishing to human body.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Moong Dal (Split),Moong Dal (Washed),Naivedyam(Festival Sweets),Traditions (Tuesday April 15, 2008 at 7:48 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Steam-Sauteed Spinach Moong Dal

Spinach Moong Dal Sandwich

My very young and impressionable cousins in India, who read my food blog, are curious to know why I don’t cook with “cool” stuff like cheese. I like cheese, don’t get me wrong, but I rarely bring it home. Cheese is costly, caloric and full of saturated fat. It is a well known fact that foods like cheese with little or no fiber are number one cause for constipation and flatulence, and that kind of diet is also responsible for several ailments from heart attack to IBS to colon cancer. Cheese may look white and pure, but the color cover ups the harmful hormonal menace. The hormonal effects from estrogen, progesterone, bovine growth hormone, this is what cheese conceals, in addition to artery clogging saturated fat. It really takes time to understand how evil the cattle industry, the source of cheese, has become. Thanks to the ad blitz sorcery and the sold-out food writers’ cover-up of agro-globalization gallop, my cousins seem to know only the glitzy side of cheese-centric food. I try to explain to them all these things in a light-hearted manner. In a rush to englut the regurgitations, I am worried that they could become victims of early aortic regurgitation.

One way to prevent that from happening is packaging the traditional, nutritious food in a new way. This steam-sautéed spinach moong dal, a recipe I have learned from a Gujarathi friend, is usually served with rice or chapati. But I stuffed it between two toasted crumpets, squeezed some lime juice, and for saturated fat touch, grated some fresh coconut.

Carbohydrates from wheat, protein from moong dal, organic, hormone-free fat from coconut, green leafy goodness from spinach and natural digestion aid from spices.

This dal-wich actually tasted better than any one-dollar, mystery-cheese burgers out there. And, I am hoping that my cousins would take this homemade, all natural, cheese-free sandwich to the heart and consider it as “cool”.

Moong Dal and Spinach
Yellow Moong Dal, Rehydrated and Fresh Spinach Leaves


Yellow moong Dal – Half cup (soaked in water for one hour, and drained)
Fresh Spinach – One bunch, finely chopped
Onion – one, finely chopped
Green chillies (Indian or Thai variety) – two, finely chopped
Turmeric – ¼ teaspoon
Salt – ¼ teaspoon
Cumin and mustard seeds – ¼ teaspoon each
Peanut oil – 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg and fresh coconut gratings – 1 teaspoon (optional)
Lime juice – one tablespoon, or to taste

Place a wide skillet on stove-top. Add and heat oil.
Add and toast cumin and mustard seeds.
When seeds start to pop, add the onions and chillies. Saute to brown.
Add the yellow moong dal. Sprinkle two tablespoons of water. Mix.
Cover with a lid and cook the dal to tender soft on medium-low heat.
Dal should be intact, but soft to bite. (Takes about 10-15 minutes.)
At that stage, add the turmeric, salt, nutmeg and coconut. Mix.
Add the spinach. Saute on high heat until the leaves collapse.
Sprinkle the lime juice. Serve hot with rice or chapati.

For our meal today, I toasted two english muffins (crumpets) to brown, and stuffed them with steam-sautéed spinach-moong dal. With a glass of chilled ruby orange juice on the side, it was a good meal.

Spinach-Moong Dal Sandwich with a glass of Ruby Orange Juice
~ A Vindu for RCI: Gujarat at Mythili’s

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Moong Dal (Washed),Spinach (Tuesday February 26, 2008 at 10:18 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Mamidi Pesara Pappu (Mango Moong Dal)

Photo Purchase Keywords: Mango, Moong Dal
(It takes money, time, effort and energy for food photography. Please don’t photosteal. Click on the links and purchase the photos legally to digital download and to print. Thanks.)

Lovely to look at, even lovelier to consume, mango-moong dal has a richness all its own without the need of too many ingredients. The unripe mango’s intense ruchi makes this dal just the side of heaven particularly if you happen to be a fan of khatti (tangy/sour) taste.

Yellow moong dal, Green mango, and regular seasoning – that’s all one need to prepare mango-moong dal. A long-standing family favorite, most commonly served to break the fast, this healthful treat is my contribution to talented Suganya’s Healthy Eats Event.

Yellow Moong Dal and Unripe Mango
Yellow Moong Dal and Unripe Mango (Pesara Pappu and Mamidi Kaya)

(for two, for one or two meals)

Half cup yellow moong dal
1 unripe mango – lightly peel the skin, discard the seed and cut the white part to half inch chunks. About a cup.
½ teaspoon chilli powder
4 cups of water

Take them all in a pot or pressure-cooker. Steam-cook until the dal reaches falling-apart stage. Then, with the back of the spoon, gently mash the dal to coarse consistency.

Now, infuse the dal with the ancient natural vitamins, also known as popu or tadka.

1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 sprigs curry leaves
4 garlic cloves, slivered
¼ teaspoon each – cumin and mustard seeds
Pinch – Hing (Asafoetida or Inguva)

Heat oil in a vessel until a curry leaf tossed in it sizzles. Lower the heat to medium. Add curry leaves and garlic. Toast to pale brown. Then add the cumin, mustard seeds and hing. When mustard seeds start to pop, add the cooked mango-moong dal. Stir in salt to taste. Mix. Serve warm. Great on its own and also with rice or roti for anytime of the day.

Mango Moong Dal (Mamidi Pesara Pappu)
Mamidi Pesara Pappu with Roti ~ Dedicating Our Meal to the Memory of Sreemathi Parigi Subhadra Krishna Rau. May She Rest in Peace!

I just learned the sad news that Pedatha has passed away. Pedatha was a sweet and kind person with gentle nature of yesteryears. I have never met her, but Pedatha has written a personal note in response to this interview. The affection in her words, I will always cherish that. She will always remain very much alive in the memories of those who loved, respected and treasured her.
My deepest condolences to the family!

~ Indira

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Mamidikaya (Green Mango),Moong Dal (Washed) (Wednesday February 20, 2008 at 11:05 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Beerakaya~Pesara Pappu Kootu

Ridge gourd and Moong Dal :

I see the world around me. There is a deep tantric style worship of all-purpose flour and its endless avatars. All-purpose flour, butter, eggs and sugar: the central content is the same but by just changing the vessel and the decorations, several different avatars are possible. Like the prayers to the Gods, the all-purpose flour mantram resonates like this: cakes… yum, cookies… yum, cupcakes… yum, muffins… yum, bread… yum, biscotti… yum, pizzas, pies, scones… yum … yum … yum … the mantram goes on. The sugar bliss and the atma content follow… yum!

I am amazed by this boundless fascination all-purpose flour attracts. The Maya intensity of all-purpose flour is so great that each of its avatars is perceived as its own creation. I too use the flour mantram, but the avatars are limited to chapati… yum, puri… yum, paratha… yum. I’m just talking out loud.

Anyway, cakes and cookies could be divinely delicious, but vegetables are what inspire me to cook and write. Vegetables keep me happy in a world which is insanely flour-sugar coated. So here it is, another sane vegetable recipe from an all-purpose flour atheist. A hearty, dense, satisfying dal recipe with ridge gourd and moong dal, called Kootu.

Attempt this kootu recipe only when you have asafetida in your kitchen. Because the tiny amount of asafetida is what makes the recipe come alive. Onions and garlic are a big no but potatoes are a must. Ridge gourd, drumsticks and brinjal separately or together in combination are added to cooked, watery moong dal. And the whole thing gets simmered until a thick, honey like consistency is achieved. This is a good dal recipe for people who have low tolerance levels for onions and garlic, and also during early pregnancy times. Mild and soothing, this moong dal Kootu is a favorite for moong fans like me.

Ridge gourd, Red Potato, Lime and Yellow Moong Dal ~ Ingredients for Pesara pappu Kootu


Step 1: 1 cup yellow moong dal – Roast the yellow moong dal to pale red color in an iron skillet. Take the roasted dal in a pressure-cooker, add about 4 cups of water and pressure-cook to soft. Then, lightly mash the dal to smooth consistency.

Meanwhile blend six green chillies, two tablespoons of grated fresh coconut and a pinch of salt to smooth paste.

Step 2: In a saucepan – add a teaspoon of oil. Add and saute two cups of cubed potatoes first. Once the potatoes are half cooked, add 2 cups of finely chopped ridge gourd pieces and saute to tender. (3 potatoes and 1 ridge gourd.)

To the vegetables, add the mashed moong dal, green chilli-coconut paste, ½ tsp each -turmeric and salt, plus a quarter cup of lime/lemon juice, along with two cups of water. Mix, have a taste and adjust the spice, salt to your liking. Simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 3: In the end, do the popu or tadka. Add and toast few curry leaves, dried red chilli pieces, cumin and mustard seeds and quarter teaspoon of asafetida in an iron skillet in a small amount of oil or ghee. Add the toasted contents to simmering dal. Mix and serve hot with chapatis. A state of bliss will surely follow.

Beerakaya Pesara Pappu Kootu ~ for a Light Meal

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd),Moong Dal (Washed) (Wednesday August 29, 2007 at 10:19 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Pongal with Green Pearls

We, Indians could learn so much from Italians when it comes to food marketing, I think. Take for example, – they have risotto, we have pongal. There are thousands of articles, recipes written on risotto. Good, old fashioned risotto, risotto with saffron, risotto with that, risotto with this… the list goes on and on. It’s easy to apply the same thing to pongal. The basic recipe never changes but by adding fresh seasonal produce like fresh peas or asparagus etc, it’s possible to rekindle the interest in centuries-old pongal recipe. Of course we also need excellent writers, poets and photographers to create that harp effect, a swooning, spiritual experience at the mere utterance of “Pongal”. Few movie scenes where the hero adoringly feeds the heroine a spoonful of creamy pongal would also help.

We have golden recipes, excellent technique. What we lack is co-coordinated, full throttle marketing. Inspired tactics used with savvy and creativity could not only resurrect genuine interest plus prestige in the preservation and application of the food traditions, they would also benefit the farmers back in the country, in my view.

Here is my humble effort.

Green Pearls ~ Fresh Peas of Summer

Brimming with that glorious just-off-the vine sweet flavor, the fresh peas of summer make a succulent addition to the classic, creamy pongal recipe. Easy to prepare and full of flavor, pongal with fresh peas make a pleasing meal any time of the day.


1 tablespoon – ghee
1 teaspoon each – black peppercorn, cumin and cloves
8 fresh curry leaves
½ cup – yellow moong dal
1 cup – shelled fresh green peas
1 cup – Sona Masuri rice
6 cups – water
1 teaspoon – salt or to taste

Melt ghee in a big saucepan on medium heat. Coarsely crush peppercorn, cumin and cloves in a mortar or in a spice mill and add to the ghee. Also add the curry leaves. Saute them gently for a minute or so.

Add the yellow moong dal. Continuously mixing, saute the dal to pale-pink color. At this stage add fresh green peas. Cook couple of minutes. Stir in Sona Masuri rice along with water and salt.

Bring the water to a boiling point on high heat. Once the water and rice start to dance, reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer, mixing in-between until the rice is cooked to soft.

Turn off the heat, and add a last spoonful of water (or ghee, if you can afford it healthwise).

Leave to stand for 2-3 minutes then stir. Serve hot with chutney/kurma or yogurt.

Heaven in a Plate:Pongal with Fresh Peas and Peanut Chutney ~ Weekend Supper

Recipe Notes:
All about Sona Masuri Rice – here
Pongal is good with chutneys, pickles, tomato based kurmas, coconut based curries and plain homemade yogurt.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Biyyamu (Rice),Ghee,Moong Dal (Washed),Peas (Bataani),Sona Masuri Rice (Monday June 11, 2007 at 12:31 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Palakura Pullakura (Spinach~Mango Dal)

I mentioned few times here on Mahanandi that I do not know much about the cuisine of Telangana, one of the three regional cuisines of Andhra. One reader picked up on that and mailed me her family recipes from Telangana region. It is surprising and very encouraging to see such passionate sharing of family heirlooms. Thanks Vijaya! Among her recipes, Palakura Pullakura with spinach and unripe mango caught my attention. This recipe is different from the preparations to which I am accustomed. No toor dal, but moong dal and chana dal used together. I have never heard of this combination before. I wanted to try this for JFI-WBB: Greens and made it for lunch.

To my delight, it came out exceptionally well. The combination of moong dal and chana dal worked. Who knew? The pleasant, mild taste of spinach balances and complements the sour and strong taste of raw mango. I can certainly give an A+ to this recipe. Long live Telangana cuisine, may it be part of Andhra Pradesh forever!

Spinach and Unripe Green Mango
Spinach and Unripe Green Mango


Half cup each – moong dal and chana dal
One or about 1 cup – unripe mango pieces
One bunch spinach – washed and chopped
10 to 12 green chillies (small Indian variety) – finely chopped
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp salt

For popu or tadka:
1 tablespoon oil
¼ tsp each – chopped garlic, dried red chilli pieces, curry leaves, hing, cumin and mustard seeds

I roasted the moong dal first to light brown color, because I prefer the roasted taste to plain. Then took them in a pressure cooker. Added chana dal and washed the dals together once.

Next, I added the unripe mango pieces, spinach, green chillies and turmeric along with about 4 cups of water to pressure cooker. Covered and cooked for one whistle. The recipe instructions say do not cook more than one whistle, maintain chana dal integrity. So to do that, I turned off the heat after one whistle and waited for the valve pressure to get released. Once the valve pressure cleared, I opened the lid and added salt. Mixed and Mashed the dal lightly.

Time for the final step – popu or tadka. Heated the oil in a pan and toasted the popu ingredients listed above one after another in the order written. When mustard seeds start to jump around, I added the mashed dal to the popu and mixed everything thoroughly.

I also fried some papadams, sundried yogurt chillies and pumpkin vadiyams (courtesy of my blog neighbor Mythili of Vindu who returned from India trip recently.) to accompany the dal and rice. Served hot with rice and little bit of ghee, and a cup of yogurt on the side, our meal today was heartwarming and fulfilling. Thanks Vijaya for this family recipe and thanks Mythili for the tasty vadiyams. Here is to the power of sharing!

Palakura Pullakura with rice and ghee with a Side Snack of Sundried yogurt Chillies and Pumpkin Fritters

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Chana Dal,Mamidikaya (Green Mango),Moong Dal (Washed),Spinach (Tuesday April 3, 2007 at 11:08 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Vegetable Pongal ~ A Pleasing Meal

I admit, I really like saying the word “Pongal”. Try it. Once more, “Pongal”. Isn’t that fun? I knew you would agree. And we love pongal. No sense in denying it, we are pongal worshippers. Rice and moong dal cooked to creamy moist tenderness with ghee inspired countless people to gush, and I am no exception.

As you can imagine, we are always looking for pongal recipes that will excite our finicky tastebuds. Boy, we cooked one today. Pongal with mixed vegetables and cashews, flavored with ginger and ghee. A filling one-pot meal with minimum effort. Sounds superb, doesn’t it? Now imagine that decadent creamy pongal warmly melting in your mouth with each bite. I promise, it really is as good as it sounds. Even better!

Secret is all in the rice. Pick brown/unpolished or parboiled varieties for maximum ruchi and I found that Kerala red rice (or Rosematta rice – an unpolished red rice from India, cultivated since ancient times in Kerala and Tamilnadu regions) is the supreme, healthy choice for this recipe.

Kerala Red Rice+Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Vegetables, Curry leaves, Ginger and Coriander Leaves


Half cup – Kerala red rice (Rosematta rice)
Half cup – yellow moong dal
Two cups – cut vegetables
Half cup – roasted cashews
Ten curry leaves and few sprigs of fresh coriander leaves
One teaspoon each – cumin, minced ginger, peppercorn, turmeric and salt
Two tablespoons – ghee

Dry roast yellow moong dal to pale brown on low heat, in an iron skillet. Remove, mix with Kerala red rice. Wash gently with water then drain quickly.

Prepare vegetables to bite sized pieces. My choice was – ridge gourd (turai), carrot, red bell pepper, one each and a fistful of fresh corn and peas. For spicy punch, I added 4 green chillies-finely chopped.

When you are ready to cook – heat ghee in a large, heavy-based pan.

Add curry leaves first and then cumin and ginger. Saute to gold color.
Add the cut vegetables, coriander leaves. Saute for about 5 minutes.
Add the Kerala red rice and moong dal.
Add 6 cups of water and 1 cup of milk.
Coarsely crush peppercorn and add along with salt and turmeric.

Mix. Cover and simmer on medium heat, stirring occasionally.

After about 20 to 30 minutes, the grains will be tenderly soft and there will still little bit of liquid (at least half cup) left in the pot. Turn off the heat at this stage and add the roasted cashews. Mix and serve this liquid kanji (ganji) like vegetable pongal immediately.

Vegetable Pongal
Vegetable Pongal ~ Our Afternoon Meal Today

Kerala Red Rice (Rosematta Rice) -Available in Indian grocery shops
Traditional Pongali – Recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd),Biyyamu (Rice),Moong Dal (Washed),Rosematta Rice (Tuesday January 30, 2007 at 1:49 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Ridgegourd~Moongdal (Beerakaya Pesara Pappu)

Precious things in nature often have some protective mechanisms to guard themselves. A pineapple or a rose, by the looks or touch, they strongly give signals to not to touch. But remove those sharp things and you know there will be a sensory explosion awaiting you. Same thing with the vegetable, ‘ridge gourd’ (beerakaya, turai). Just at the first look a person with any veg sense or nature sense would immediately know that this vegetable has something special going on.

Nature has showed a special interest on this veggie. Unlike any other gourds, ridge gourd has some sharp vertical ridges along its body. The younger the vegetable the sharper the ridges are. Once you peel the ridges and cut it open, sweet tender taste awaits you. Mature, old ones have ridges like far end of knife, dulled and raised – signaling that they are not good for consumption. Like dried rose petal potpourri, they are also destined for bathrooms as loofas. But young ones, they taste tenderly sweet and here in this traditional Bharath recipe they are paired with moong dal. Lightly roasted moong dal and tender ridge gourd cooked together with green chillies. And tadka is added at the end to bring life to the dish. Easy comfort food that tastes good, particularly on a cold day like today.

Ridge Gourd and Roasted Yellow Moong Dal


Yellow Moong dal: Roast 1 cup of yellow moong dal in an iron skillet to light golden-brown color. I prefer moong dal always roasted, this is a habit I got from my mother. It takes few minutes to do the roasting but I do think they taste so much better as a result.

Ride gourd and green chillies: Peel the ridges of one medium sized young ridge gourd and scrape the skin lightly. Cut the vegetable to small pieces. Comes about 3 cups. Also finely chop 8 green chillies.

Cook: Take roasted moong dal, ridge gourd pieces and green chillies. Add a tablespoon of tamarind juice, half teaspoon of turmeric and one glass of water. Pressure-cook or cook covered until they are tender. Remove the lid, add about half teaspoon of salt and mash the dal to smooth consistency.

Do the popu or tadka: Heat a teaspoon of peanut oil in a vessel. Add and toast few curry leaves, a tablespoon of minced garlic and one teaspoon of cumin and mustard seeds, in that order. When seeds start to dance, immediately add the mashed dal to the popu.

Serve warm. Tastes good with rice and with chapatis.

Ridge Gourd~Moong Dal with Rosematta Rice

Turai curry with fresh dill – recipe

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Beera kaaya(Ridge Gourd),Indian Vegetables,Moong Dal (Washed) (Thursday November 2, 2006 at 2:34 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Pongal (Pongali)

Rice, Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Roasted Cashews, Cumin and Peppercorn
Sona Masuri Rice, Roasted Yellow Moong Dal, Roasted Cashews, Cumin and Peppercorn

Some foods are simply divine, pongal belongs to that category. There isn’t anything quite like pongal! Creamy and luxurious rice dish that you get by cooking rice with toasted moong dal in little bit of ghee. Lots of water, sometimes milk is added and seasoned with cumin, black peppercorn and salt. The whole mix is cooked in a big pot until the rice and dal are soft. Roasted cashews are sprinkled at the end. This simple dish is so fragrant, the whole house will be filled with wonderful aroma. And the taste, I won’t gush but I will say this; it’s often prepared and offered to Gods in temples. Can we, mere mortals resist the pongal temptation? I don’t think so!

Pittsburgh’s Sri Venkateswara Temple serves the best pongal I have ever tasted out side India. At the temple’s kitchen, the chef prepares pongal in a big caldron following the traditional method. The secret is not only quality ingredients but also the method of cooking, no pressure-cookers there. I think that’s why temple pongal tastes so good. Since last year I have been preparing pongal in a big pot and stopped cooking it in pressure cooker. The difference in taste is tremendous and surprisingly the preparation is also easy.

Here is my recipe:
(for two)

1½ cup rice (preferably Sona Masuri)
1 cup yellow moong dal
2 tablespoon of ghee
1 tsp of cumin
½ tsp of black peppercorn
1 tsp of salt
½ cup of cashews
7 cups of water and
I also add 2 cups of milk (my preference and optional)
A big sturdy pot (Big sauce pan)

Pongal – Starting Point

Pongal – After 15 minutes of cooking

Pongal – at 20 minutes of cooking

1. Heat a teaspoon of ghee in an iron skillet on medium heat. Add and roast moong dal to golden color, constantly mixing. Take care not to black. Remove them to a plate. In the same skillet heat another teaspoon of ghee. Add and roast cashews to golden.

2. In a big sturdy pot, heat a tablespoon of ghee. Add and toast cumin and black peppercorn for few minutes. Stir in the toasted moong dal and rice. Mix them with ghee for few minutes. Pour water and milk and stir in salt. Cover the pot with lid and cook on high heat. Within 10 to 15 minutes, you will see the water gurgling and trying to lift the pot lid. At this stage, remove the lid. Mix the cooking mixture once and partially cover the pot with lid, leaving little bit of gap for water vapor to escape.

3. Within 5 minutes, you will see whole thing coming together. Rice-dal mixture will be doubled in volume. Each grain will be plumped but not broken open. Turn off the heat, and stir in roasted cashews. Close the lid fully and let the rice sit for about 10 minutes. At this stage, you can stir in more ghee if you want to and also add salt to suit your taste.

Rice-dal mixture absorbs the remaining water-milk liquid and becomes little bit tight. Pongal’s consistency can vary from something resembling a thick soup to a creamy porridge, but never like a tight hard ball. Resist the temptation to overcook and turn off heat early.

Usually we will have this pongal with chutney, potato kurma or with a cup of yogurt depending on the time of the day.

Pongal with Coconut Chutney ~ Traditional Indian breakfast
My first entry to JFI – Dal hosted by Sailu of Sailu’s Food and also to Paz’s For the Love of Rice

Along with cumin and black peppercorn, curry leaves are also added to the ghee. I didn’t have any curry leaves when I prepared this recipe so the omission.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Biyyamu (Rice),Cashews,Moong Dal (Washed),Sona Masuri Rice (Thursday June 29, 2006 at 1:46 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Moong Dal Payasam (Pesara Pappu Payasam)

A Cup of Moong dal Payasam
A Cup of Moong dal Payasam for Indian Sweets~101

If I have to choose between a cup of payasam and a slice of cake, I’d always go for the cup. Here, mothers prepare cakes lovingly; back in India, payasams are the norm. Every Saturday my mother would prepare payasam for puja naivedyam. I believe she prepared payasam mainly because of us, four little darlings:), who would come home from school hungry for something sweet. We had half-day school on Saturdays and afternoon meals at my mother’s home always included a type of payasam. Creamy rich with full of cashews and golden raisins, it was like spoonful of heaven on a warm afternoon.

Together between my mom and mother-in-law, there are recipes for at least a dozen different payasams. Who would really need a cook book when you have this type of rich resource right a phone call away? Because they all follow a basic method, it’s not that difficult to remember the procedure. Moong dal payasam is one such easy recipe I picked up from the family.

Moong dal is cooked in sweetened and thickened, rich poppy seed milk. Light golden hue, incredible, inviting aroma and delight to the senses – this is how I would describe this payasam.

Roasted in Ghee – Yellow Moong Dal


Moong dal, yellow (pesara pappu) – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup
Milk – 5 cups
Poppy seeds (Khus-khus, gasa gasalu) – ¼ cup
(Soaked in ½ cup of warm water for at least half an hour, to soften them)
Cashews and Golden Raisins, each – ¼ cup
Cardamom (Elachi, aluka) – 6
Ghee (neyyi) – 2 tablespoons

Prep Work:

1 In an iron skillet or tava, heat a teaspoon of ghee on medium heat. Add and roast, yellow moong dal until the color changes from yellow to light red and releases the wonderful fragrance. Remove them to a plate. Aromatherapy starts with this first step.

2 In the same iron skillet or tava, heat a tablespoon of ghee on medium heat. When it is hot, add and toast first golden raisins and then cashews. Golden Raisins puff up like little gold balloons and cashews turn from creamy white to light gold. Take care not to burn. Remove them to a plate.

3 Powder cardamom seeds to smooth powder in a mortar using the pestle or in a spice grinder.

Toasted in Ghee - Cashews and Golden Raisins
Toasted in Ghee – Cashews and Golden Raisins

In a pressure cooker, take roasted moong dal, sugar, milk and soaked poppy seeds along with the water it’s soaked in. Mix and close the lid. Pressure cook until two whistles. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid and with a wood-masher or immersion blender lightly mash the dal. Pressure-cooking is my method; I follow it mainly for the convenience of not stirring and for the speed. In actual recipe, they would take all the ingredients in a wide, thick-bottomed vessel and cook until the dal reaches fall-apart stage. If you don’t have a pressure cooker at home, then follow the second method. It may take little bit more time, but the end result will be worth the trouble, I promise.

Add the toasted cashews and golden raisins along with the ghee they toasted in. Also stir in the cardamom powder to the cooked payasam. Have a taste and add sugar and milk, if needed. Simmer the payasam on medium-low heat about 20 to 30 minutes, until it reaches thick, creamy consistency. Serve warm or cold.

A Cup of Moong Dal Payasam with Poppy Seeds, Cashews and Golden Raisins

Poppy seeds can block the cooker nozzle and that may create a mess, if they not soaked in warm water beforehand. Soak poppy seeds in water first, if you are to cook this in a pressure cooker.
Chana Dal Payasam – Link

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Indian Sweets 101,Milk,Moong Dal (Washed),Naivedyam(Festival Sweets),Poppy Seeds,Sugar (Friday June 9, 2006 at 8:31 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Sweet Pongal, The Sankranthi Sweet


Harvest festival Sankranthi is all about celebrating rice in our part of world. Particularly in South India, rice plays an important role as the main cultivated grain and as nourishing food that people subsist on every day of their life. It’s no wonder that there is a festival dedicated to the almighty rice. Equally worshipped are the man’s best partner, the kind-hearted cow, and the elements – sun, earth and water. They make rice cultivation a success, and also add a magic touch to the rice, making the rice a cherished, beloved food of the people.

Sona Masuri Rice - Grown and Imported from Andhra, India
Sona Masuri Rice – Grown and Imported from Andhra Pradesh, India

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali):

This famous south Indian, Sankranthi sweet is traditionally made with freshly harvested rice. Very simple to make but spectacular in taste, the ordinary rice becomes mouthwateringly extraordinary in sweet pongal. The rice soaks up the milk, absorbs the jaggery, picks up the cardamom scent and takes up the generously added moong dal, cashews and golden raisins. And in this new avatar, becomes an offering to the Gods (naivedyam, we call it), and also simply irresistible to all who try it.

Some Tips:


I follow the classic recipe and don’t do or like shortcuts. Method is neat and easy and the end result is always like the prasadam offering of temples. Jaggery is the traditional sweetener of sweet pongal and my choice too, simply because sweet pongal tastes better when made with jaggery and not sugar.


The rice that I prefer is Sona Masuri. Because this variety is grown and imported from my home state Andhra Pradesh, and is the variety that I grew up on. Grain is thin, medium sized and very lightweight. Available in almost all Indian grocery shops here in US. Little bit pricey, but the taste is worth the money and farmers in my state really can use the money. Support farmers and buy this rice.


Sweet pongal is like a rice-dal porridge, consistency must be gooey thick and sticky. That means, the amount of liquid I usually add for sweet pongal recipe is more than the amount that I normally add to cook plain rice of equal measurements. Also, I always use equal amounts of water and milk for this recipe. Variations are – you can cook the rice-dal entirely in milk or in coconut milk, or if you are lactose intolerant and diet conscious, then in just plain water. Just add more liquid compared to the regular rice preparation.

Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery
Rice, Yellow Moong Dal, Cashews, Golden Raisins, Cardamom and Jaggery

For two people

1 cup – Sona Masuri rice
½ cup – yellow moong dal (pesara Pappu)
1 – 1½ cups – jaggery, crushed to fine
¼ cup each – cashews and golden raisins
¼ cup – ghee, melted
4 cardamom pods – skins removed and seeds powdered finely
3 cups each – milk and water (or 2 cups each, if you like a halwa like pongali)

Here is the 3-step method I follow to prepare sweet pongali at our home.

1.Toast and Roast:

Yellow moong dal:
Heat one teaspoon of ghee in an iron skillet. Add and roast yellow moong dal, on medium heat, until the color changes from yellow to pink. Take care not to brown. Slow-roasting freshens up and imparts a sweet smell to yellow moong dal. Remove them to a plate and keep aside.

Cashews and Golden raisins:
In the same skillet, add and heat two teaspoons of ghee. Add and fry the cashews and golden raisins till they turn to light gold. Remove and keep them aside.

Jaggery Syrup Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup
Jaggery syrup simmering…………Cooked Rice-Dal Mixture is added to Jaggery Syrup

2.Cook and melt:

Rice, moong dal and milk:

Take rice and roasted moong dal in a pot. Add water and milk. Mix well. Partially cover the pot and cook the rice and dal to tender soft. I use a pressure cooker but an electric rice cooker also works fine. Stove-top slow simmering also produces best tasting pongali.

Jaggery and water:

While the rice is cooking, in another pot, melt jaggery. Add the powdered jaggery and one cup of water. Stir and cook till jaggery melts. Bring the solution to a rolling boil. and reduce the heat and simmer for about five minutes. Turn off the heat. Let the jaggery syrup cool a bit.(Jaggery has to be cooked separately and you can’t add it directly to uncooked rice and milk. Because it prevents the rice from cooking properly and also splits the milk. Please keep this in mind.)

3. Stir and Simmer:

Adding the cooked rice: Add the cooked rice-dal pongal to jaggery syrup. Keep the heat on medium. Stir in the ghee, cashews, golden raisins and cardamom powder. With a strong laddle, stir well to combine all. Cover and simmer until the whole mixture comes together into a sticky, gooey mass. Turn off the heat. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. Sweet pongal thickens further on cooling.

First offer to Gods as naivedyam (if you have this tradition), then serve it your loved ones, near and dear. Don’t forget to drizzle some ghee just before serving.

Sweet Pongal (Tiyya Pongali) - The Traditional Sweet of Sankranthi
Heavenly Sweet Pongal

For people hungering for a traditional, naivedyam kind of recipe but don’t have time or energy to make puran poli (bhakshalu), sweet pongal is The one. Speaking from experience, my suggestion is, keep your reservations aside and try it. You’ll be glad and can be proud of yourself for finally making one decent kind of naivedyam. I promise! Follow the recipe and this ancient classic delivers every time. People would ask for a second serving, diet or no diet.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Cashews,Ghee,Golden Raisins,Indian Sweets 101,Milk,Moong Dal (Washed),Naivedyam(Festival Sweets),Sona Masuri Rice (Monday January 16, 2006 at 3:08 pm- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi:

Moong Dal Rasam (Pesara Pappu Charu)

Like bitter gourd curry and chappidi pappu, this moong dal rasam is again one of the recipes, only my mom prepares and very special to me. When I am out of ideas/vegetables or tired of too much food, I make this rasam. A small bowl of rasam with little bit of hot rice and ghee, on the side, a small piece of juicy lime pickle… just enough!

 Roasted Moong beans, Red Chilli Powder, Tamarind and Onion


1 cup yellow moong dal (pesara bedalu)
Onion, one – cut into chunks
½ tsp each- red chilli powder and turmeric
Small marble size tamarind pieces
Salt to taste

Preparation of Moong dal rasam(soup) is very simple. Roast moong dal lightly in an iron skillet to light brown color first. Let cool. Take the roasted dal in a pressure cooker, wash and then add onion, red chilli powder, turmeric, tamarind along with about a glass of water. Pressure cook to three whistles and turn off the heat. Once all the valve pressure is released, remove the lid. Add salt and mash the dal to smooth consistency.

In a seperate vessel, do the popu or tadka (toasting the mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves etc, in one teaspoon of oil/ghee). Add the smoothly mashed dal and two glasses of water. Have a taste and adjust the seasoning (salt, chilli and tamarind) to your liking. Bring to a boil and let simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes on medium heat, strring in-between. My mothers comforting rasam will be ready.

Mung dal Rasam (Pesara Pappy Chaaru)
Moong dal rasam, ghee and rice ~ Giving a break to stomachs ~ Our simple Sunday meal.

Recipe Source: Amma

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra,Moong Dal (Washed) (Monday November 28, 2005 at 9:28 am- permalink)
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The New Home of Mahanandi: