Healthy Brown Rice Pongal

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Brown Rice Pongal

We have started using brown rice quite often these days. The first dish I ever tried with brown rice was pongal and I have to agree that I did not get it right.

Only after 2 failed attempts I figured out the ratio of water and brown rice. Cooking brown rice in a pressure cooker is a breeze. The brown rice, water ratio is 2 and 1/2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice, if you are preparing dishes like pongal, bisi bele bath etc.

For these dishes the rice has to be cooked well, so leave the cooker on for 5-6 whistles. If you are going to make fried rice or any other dish which doesn’t require sticky rice, the ratio of water is 2 and 1/4 cups of water and leave it just for 1 or 2 whistles and remove the cooker from the stove.

These days I prefer brown rice pongal to the traditional white rice pongal. This is healthy and definitely very filling. The only one negative thing I observed with brown rice is, it may give stomach cramps initially. Let me stress here again on “may”. My husband did not have any problems at all. On the other hand I developed severe stomach cramps on the second day after eating brown rice consecutively for two days.

I spoke with my nurse to find out the reason and she explained that since brown rice is whole grain, drinking more water would help with easy digestion of the fiber. Now don’t make this an excuse to avoid using brown rice because it’s not the case with everybody. Since our(my) body is used to white flour and rice, it may take some time to tolerate the extra effort it has to put to digest whole grains. So increase your consumption of brown rice gradually and also drink a lot of water.


Healthy Brown Rice Pongal Recipe

Prep TimeCook TimeMakes
30 Mins30 Mins2-3 Servings
Healthy Brown Rice Pongal
5.0 from 1 reviews
Give a healthy spin to the traditional Pongal recipe by using brown rice instead of white rice.
  • 3/4 cup Brown Rice
  • 1/2 cup Moong Daal
  • 3 and 1/4 cups Water
  • 1 teaspoon Black Pepper Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Cumin
  • 1 tablespoon Grated Ginger
  • as per taste Salt
  • 1 tablespoon Ghee
  • 5 to 6 Curry Leaves
  • As Needed Cashews Broken Into Small Pieces (Optional)
  1. Wash the rice and daal together a couple of times. Add the rice, daal, water, pepper powder, cumin and grated ginger in a pressure cooker directly and let it stand for at least 30 minutes. Soaking brown rice in water before cooking is suggested for added health benefits. You need not do this if using white rice.
  2. Cook it in low-medium heat and leave it for 6 whistles. Switch of the stove and remove the cooker from the stove.
  3. Meanwhile in a small frying pan heat the ghee, add the curry leaves and fry the cashew pieces (if using) until golden brown.
  4. Once you are able to open the cooker add required amount of salt and pour the heated ghee and mix well.
  5. Eat it hot with chutney, sambar or the traditional accompaniment Eggplant Gojju or Gothsu.
My Notes:
  1. Pongal is made with white rice (preferably ponni raw rice or even sona masuri). To adopt a healthy lifestyle I have used brown rice instead.
  2. Traditionally rice and daal are cooked first. Then ghee is heated, to fry cumin, pepper, ginger and cashews, which is added to the cooked rice. You could do it either way.
  3. Also whole peppercorns are used for pongal. In our house we don’t like biting full peppers, so I use black pepper powder.
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Brown Rice Pongal

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  1. vandana

    Great healthy recipe. Please google about the need to soak whole grains and discard soak water. That might solve your stomach cramps.

    • Madhuram

      Yep started doing that Vandana.

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  5. Sujatha

    Healthy recipe. Never thought of using brown rice in pongal. Also, you could use split moong daal with husk than regular moong daal. It makes healthier recipe…..

    Yes, that’s a good idea Sujatha.

  6. divyasivakumar

    hi, thanks for the recipe,may i know that the brown rice and kerala rice r the same and can u please provide me the procedure to cook kerala rice in pressure cooker for regular meal.

    thanks in advance.

    Hi Divya, I’m not sure if both are one and the same. I’ve heard about roematta rice in Kerala and one of my friend used to tell that it takes about 12-15 whistles to cook.

  7. Jayanthi

    Hi Madhuram,

    I have started trying brown rice recently. I made Pongal using it but it din’t turn out well. There are lot of brown rice varities in the market. I am using a short grain (kind of round) variety from wholefoodsmarket (bulk section). Which variety do you using for making your recipes?

    Jayanthi, until recently I had been using only long grain brown rice. The brown rice pongal and brown rice bisibele bath were prepared using long grain rice. Recently I started using short grain and I also found that the water ratio I had used for long grain did not work for this. I had to try a couple of times before finding the correct ratio. Short grain rice (at least the brand I’m using) needs only 1 and 1/4 cup water for 1 cup rice, as against 2 and 1/2 cups for long grain rice. Also soaking the rice overnight and cooking it in hot water makes it better. Hope this helps.

  8. jam

    hi, i would like to know how many does this recipe serves?…it look real good but i dont want to make too much! thanks.

    It serves 2 people.

  9. A

    Can you give an idea how long in minutes six whistles is? I like the looks of your recipe, but need to know how to time it. My pressure pan does not operate in whistles. Thanks.

    I guess 25-30 minutes from start to finish, but not sure.

  10. bee

    try soaking the rice overnight or for an hour in hot water. you get a more even result. just make sure to measure out the amount of water you need for cooking and soak i in that amount.

  11. Usha

    Pongal looks perfect Madhu ! you got a perfect texture even though you used brown rice for it 🙂

    This also came after a couple of trials. It did taste good too.

  12. Bharti

    Pongal looks great! Just wanted to mention that I think soaking brown rice the night before you cook it helps in making it more digestible. I remember making brown rice for my daughter when she a baby and she had massive cramps! It IS very hard to digest, but yeah soaking it longer makes it better.

    Now that you mention about soaking overnight to avoid cramps, that makes sense Bharti, because when I prepare dosa/adai with brown rice I do soak it overnight and I do not get any cramps.

  13. Sweatha

    Thanks for the way to cook brown rice.Actually I am having pblms with brown rice.Thank God,you saved me.The pongal looks hearty and nice to know you enjoyed a healthy Pongal.

    Sweatha, follow Bharti’s comment and soak it as much as possible to avoid any cramps.

  14. Uma

    wow, brown rice pongal! looks great and yummy just like regular pongal. Hope you had a wonderful sankranthi! 🙂

    Thanks Uma.

  15. Deesha

    I have never tried brown rice. looks delcious the Pongal. BTW I tried yr chickpea stew, came out fabulous. will post it soon. I keep visiting yr blog, I guess this is the 1st time Iam writing out here. You have a great space here.

    Thanks Deesha. The credit for the stew goes to Vaishali.

  16. PG

    Mom had learnt to cook such lovely pongal from her neighbours. Yours looks fantastic. I have just bought split mung in a long time. I think i will risk it and make it even though hubby is neither a fan of mung nor brown rice. I guess i just need to cook the right dish and I hope to “convert” him with this one. wish me luck! 😀

    Sure PG. Nowadays I make pongal only with brown rice. Did you check the Pureed fruit round up?

  17. Cham

    I ve got a christmas gift a pack of organic long grain brown rice. Got to tell u it took a hell of time to cook and for 1 cup of brown rice I added 3 1/2 cups of water. Did u use any particular brand ? My rice color stayed pretty brown too… But ur pongal doesn’t show any trace 🙂

    I’ve used the Caroline (actually I’m not sure) brand available in the regular grocery store. This time I got it in the Indian store, it didn’t have any name. Plain rice stays brown only, but because of the mung daal, the pongal does not look any different than the regular pongal.

  18. Anjali Damerla

    Hey Madhu,
    Belated Happy Sankranti. Life just got a bit busy for me here.

    I have never used brown rice till now. Isn’t that a shame? I like the fact that you used pressure cooker in this recipe. Love your “zhatpat” procedure 🙂

    This would be great for office/school lunch.


    Sankranthi wishes to you too Anjali. You should also try adai with brown rice, it tastes very good.

  19. Sunshinemom

    I make this sometimes too using ‘Nerapara’ brown rice. Somehow the gooey rice preparations taste better with brown rice than with polished. I love bisibelebath with brown rice too. Tasty pongal:)

    Yes we have also started liking brown rice.

  20. Cilantro

    Thanks for the ratio Madhu, would like to try it soon. I too thought about making Sakkarai pongal with brown rice for Pongal but dropped the idea. Let me know if you make it some day.

    Sure, will try it one of these days and post it.

  21. Sumathi

    I have never used brown rice.. this pongal looks yummy !!

  22. mahimaa

    oh this is nice. i have never made brown rice.this one looks good madhu.

  23. Siri

    the pongal looks yummy Madhu. My first attempt with brown rice was a total disaster but later I got to know about 1:2.5 ratio and I typically cook in rice cooker.. 😀


  24. SS

    Happy Sankranti a little belated, do you think Chakra Pongal will taste just the same with Brown rice , guess it is a rhetoric question !

    Actually I wanted to try Chakra pongal using brown rice on the 15th. But I thought it was too much risk to take on Pongal day.