Spinach barley pongal

spinach barley pongal

Scoop a tasty ladleful of the hot creamy spinach barley pongal and add a small ladleful of chutney on the side. Enjoy this divine combo as that comforting healthy meal. Is your plate ready?

Pongal is not something we reserve for the Pongal festival. It becomes our comfort meal in winter, a quick one-pot after work or just the meal we share when stress runs high. So it has considerably moved away from it being that classic venpongal to one we easily swap grains for based on what we have.
This week is a fridge clean-out before we fill it up for the upcoming festival  Pongal. Looking at what we have a bag of spinach is ready to be used. Along with this, a small bit of barley in a bottle and a small bit of moongdal both of which are better to be finished. All these put together this spinach barley pongal makes our meal today.

What’s pearled barley vs hulled barley?

With a chewy nutty texture, barley is a grain popular in Western Asia and African cuisine. With the global trade diversity,  this grain has found its founts its way into all supermarkets. The popular one seen is pearled barley. In pearled barley, the husk and the bran have been removed making it easier to cook. This type of barley swells absorbing more and more liquid as it sits. It is good to use pearled barley for soft-cooked recipes like Pongal, risotto etc. Hulled barley has the husk removed but the bran is still present. This takes longer to cook and stays in shape as it is tough to break the bran. Hulled barley is best for soups like soup or even dosas. I use pearled barley to habe as a rice substitute. The strained liquid from cooking barley is used to make barley water soup.

Ingredients for bajra pongal

With just a few ingredients spinach barley pongal is a quick and effortless meal you are going to be making.

  • Pearled barley: I have used generic pearled barley to make this recipe. Since barley swells a lot you will need to use up to six times water.
  • Moong dal: split moong with the peel taken off from the small yet tasty moong dal or pasiparippu. Lightly roast the moong dal to release the fabulous aroma.
  • Spinach: you can use a variety of spinach for this recipe. I had baby spinach so used that. Amaranth leaves, moringa, parippu keerai,arukeerai, siru keerai all taste splendid in this recipe. Wash clean and separate the leaves to use. Frozen spinach is perfect too.
  • Spices and herbs: not much is needed for this recipe. I have added salt and a pinch of turmeric while cooking. I have fried up some cumin seeds, long pepper and fenugreek seeds. You can spice it up a bit with ginger, crushed garlic and chillies if you prefer.

Let’s make spinach pongal

The recipe is made very similar to a risotto. Since it is a one-pot dish, I have made either in the instant pot. Saute in ghee, the fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds long pepper along with chopped ginger. When this turns aromatic, add the rice and moong dal. Saute it for a couple of minutes with salt and turmeric powder. Add in the spinach and saute well.  Add about 6 times water and pressure cook for 12 minutes. Once the pressure releases naturally, mix and fluff the rice. Serve warm.

What to serve with spinach barley pongal?

We had spinach barley pongal with simple gotsu and some coconut chutney. This is a great complete meal. You could also have the barley pongal with some tomato salad, thenga chammadi or maanga chammdhi on the side.

barley spinach pongal

Leftover makeovers

Barley pongal thickens a lot upon cooling or I can say solidifies! So it is perfect for the leftovers to be remade as pongal cutlets. They hold shape well and hence can be deep fried as pongal vadais too.

spinach barley pongal

Seema Sriram
Scoop a tasty ladleful of the hot creamy spinach barley pongal and add a small ladleful of chutney on the side. Enjoy this divine combo as that comforting healthy meal. Is your plate ready?
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Main Dish, Traditional
Cuisine diabetic friendly, gluten free, South indian
Servings 6 people


  • instant pot


for tempering

  • 1 tbsp ghee use coconut oil for vegan
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds jeera
  • 1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1-2 long pepper or use regular peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger root chopped

for the pongal

  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 1/4 cup Moong dal
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • 2.5 cups drinking water
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • salt to taste


  • Into the instant pot add the ghee and the ingredients for tempering.
  • Set on saute and as they sizzle up, add the moongdal, barley and spinach.
  • Saute well and add the water, salt and turmeric powder.
  • Mix well and set on pressure mode, normal pressure for 15 minutes.
  • Once cooked let the pressure release naturally.
  • Fluff the rice and adjust with warm water if necessary.
  • Stand for 5 minutes and the pongal will be ready to eat.
Keyword festival offerings, Indian vegetarian dinner, Pongal foods
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Comforting one-pot ideas for weekdays

Thinai kara pongal
Peas pasta
Dum aloo biryani
Godhambu kanji

Stay connected

Spinach barley pongal was a comforting dish to have even in the middle of summer. The slight summer rains complemented the evening perfectly. When you make this recipe share with us how you like it, don’t miss to rate the 5 stars.
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spinach barley pongal

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4 months ago
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You are so right. Pongal is the ultimate comfort food, any time of the year or even as a quick one pot meal for dinner .. I love the barely here which lends such a rustic nuttiness and the spinach is such a great add, Seema !

Preethi Prasad
4 months ago
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Barley and spinach Pongal sounds so innovative Seema . A fabulous treat for all Pongal lovers. I have some barely at home and will definitely make it soon. I love these nutritious one pot recipes .

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