Paal kanji -Navara rice gruel.

paal kanji gruel
On the cold monsoon nights when the power (electric supply) decides to bewitch the dark night by a no show, mum used to serve simple matters rice kanji(rice soup). Under the watchful eye of flickering candlelight, appa will start to tell us stories of his childhood. One of the repeated stories I liked to hear was about the paal kanji in a silver bowl. Coming from a humble background, I guess his attraction was the silver bowl that his uncle had the pack kanji. For me, it was the curiosity of the taste of paal kanji. Either way,  it made memories for us right away.

My turn to taste the paal kanji.

My turn comes up!! Following my first pregnancy, I had developed severe joint aches. Came to mum, as usual, for all home remedies. Amma promptly put me on a diet plan, guess what was on the menu -paal kanji. Paal kanji with the indigenous Navara rice was my lunch for so many days.
Served with thoran (stirfry or a warm salad ), roasted papadam, manga chammandi (mango condiment) and non-oily lemon pickle. Unlike popular expectations, this is not a dessert or sweetened in any way. It is as simple as thin rice gruel cooked with milk. The meal was very filling and nourishing for the lactating times and the joint aches vanished. 
Navara rice

The Navara rice

Amma cooked the paal kanji with the navara rice indigenous to Kerala. Growing in the Palaghat district, navara rice is a protected red rice variety. Navara rice has its citations in ayurvedic text and is used in medicinal treatments. Navara comes in white glumed variety  and black glumed variety. ( source) As a rice variety, it has fibre rich complex carbohydrates. For the glycemic index, navara stays at 60. This in comparison with the popular matta rice from Kerala is lower.
This cooked rice form has shown a significant reduction in stomach ulcers and improvement of gut health. It has been used for low weight babies to gain weight and for removing neuromuscular issues. (source)

Navara usage in Karkidagam

Navara rice paal kanji is made during karkidagam month. During the monsoon months, the wet times bring forth a lot of stomach ailments. So during this period, people rely on nourishing health care regimes and prayers. A month of light gruel and soups enriched with medicinal plants and grains prepares the body to endure the work-life balance for the rest of the year.

Rice variations for paal kanji

If I am not in Kerala, I hardly am able to find the navara rice. I still do paal kanji with hand-pounded red rice or the high bran Srilankan red rice. The paal kanji with these also turns out tasty. The paal kanji can be cooked in a rice cooker, pressure cooker, instant pot or in a saucepan. If cooking with Navara, it is best with instant pot or pressure cooker as the bran is harder to break. 

Navara rice, paal kanji

paal kanji gruel

Paal kanji

A delicious rice soup made with Navara rice ( red rice) cooked in milk.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Breakfast, Main Dish, Traditional
Cuisine Baby toddler food, diabetic friendly, gluten free, Indian, Kerala, Kids choice, Medicinal, One pot, South indian, Vegetarian, Winter
Servings 4 people
Calories 229 kcal


To cook the rice gruel

  • 1/4 cup Red rice (use navara rice as far as possible)
  • 2 cups drinking water
  • 2 cups low fat milk

To garnish

  • 4 tsp grated coconut (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp roasted cumin powder


  • Wash the one cup of rice well and soak in the two cups of drinking water and set aside for 10 minutes

Pressure cooker method

  • Into the pressure cooker add the soaking rice with the water and one cup of milk
  • Pressure cook for three whistles and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Once the pressure is released naturally, open the pressure pan and stir and mash the rice well.
  • Add the remaining cup of milk and boil to a pouring consistency.

In the instant pot

  • Place the washed rice with the water and one cup of milk in the instant pot
  • Close and lock the lid, turn the steam release valve to sealing position.
  • Press the porridge option. Once the pressure builds it will count down to 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, switch to keep warm mode, the pressure will reduce naturally.
  • once the valve floats to down position, Open the steam valve wait for a few minutes.
  • Then open the lid, mash the rice gently and add the extra cup of milk.

To serve

  • Scoop the gruel into a bowl and top with a pinch of roasted cumin powder and a tsp of freshly grated coconut.
    Navara rice, paal kanji


Calories: 229kcalCarbohydrates: 43gProtein: 8gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.4gCholesterol: 6mgSodium: 56mgPotassium: 196mgFiber: 2gSugar: 6g
Keyword easy soup recipes, Kerala recipes
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Simple recipes like these are absolutely simple and easy to prepare. Keeping a month aside to take care of ourselves is really important for us to perform at our best.

Stay connected


It has been a long while since these memories have been dusted. I am so glad the content of this post is finally updated. Thanks to the Foodies redoing old posts group of bloggers for the prompt to work on this paalkanji posts. 

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Navara paal kanji

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Poonam Bachhav
6 years ago

Healthy share Seema !

2 years ago
Rating :

One needs so good food during lactation and post-pregnancy, at times we overlook and such foods come to the rescue. Thanks for the share, will be useful to so many.

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