Pulihora / Tamarind Rice

Introduction To Pulihora:

‘Pulihora’, as it is called in Andhra, is an extremely popular South Indian rice preparation. There are many ways of giving it a unique flavour which may slightly differ in taste but basically, it is a tangy and spicy rice preparation made of tamarind, a few South Indian spices, and curry leaves. Chintapandu Pulihora in Andhra, Puliyogare in Karnataka, Puliyodarai, and Puli Sadam in Tamil Nadu are all the various names of Tamarind rice. In other states, it is referred to as ‘Khatte Chaawal’. Kovil Puliyodarai or temple-style puliyodarai in Tamil Nadu is another variation of tamarind rice. It is served as a prasadam or naivedyam (offering to God)  in many temples and they have their own special unique flavours which are really tasty at a different level.

Pulihora In Andhra:

In Andhra, pulihora is a must during festivals and weddings. In fact, whenever pulihora is made, it gives a festive feeling in the house. During its preparation, the house is filled with the beautiful aromas of all the spices cooking along with the tamarind. The aromas are simply divine and so irresistible that one can’t really wait for them to be served. In earlier days, when picnics were a norm, pulihora was a proud addition to other snacks and would be relished along with curd rice for picnic lunches. Also, people still carry it on train journeys. I really wish these simple and beautiful joys of life which are dying down or being forgotten, get revived and I hope through my write-ups I can remind at least a few readers to try and revisit these little moments of joy in their busy lives.

My Recipe, My Story:

In the early years of my life, I used to love watching my mom mix the warm rice and the pulihora paste with her lovely hands. I could feel her love, the art, the skill, a moment I cherish and reminisce about and try to replicate for my children as well. I would wait for her to feed me a morsel, sometimes in my hand and sometimes directly in my mouth, and then she would wait for me to tell her if any improvisation is needed. But invariably it used to be just perfect and I would close my eyes and go ‘mmmmmmmm’! Amma! It’s a masterpiece! Your masterpiece! I somehow never enjoyed it anywhere else although it might have tasted exactly the same. Surely you all understand why. So, I am sharing this recipe which I have tried and practiced over the years and am just about able to get close to what it tasted like then, only so my kids too can have a memory attached to their mom’s pulihora! This truly is Savitri’s recipe – from her food corner!

I would love to hear your little stories and memories if any, connected to Pulihora. Please do share.

Pulihora – Recipe

Pulihora Ingredients:

  • Rice – 1 ½ cups
  • Tamarind – Lemon sized (soaked in water)
  • Green chillies – 10-12
  • Whole red chillies – 10-12
  • Chana daal – 3tbsps
  • Urad daal – 3 tbsps
  • Mustard seeds – 3tbsps
  • Turmeric powder -1tsp
  • Asafoetida – ½ tsp
  • Curry leaves – 15-20 leaves
  • Peanuts – 3tbsps
  • Oil – 3 tbsps
  • Salt to taste

How To Prepare Pulihora :

  • Step 1 – Firstly, pressure cook the rice. However, I use an earthen pot to cook the rice, as it cooks faster and in the required consistency and texture. Make sure to put less water than normal so as to get a consistency of separate grains. It is very important for the grains to be separate for making pulihora. Cool the rice before mixing the pulihora paste. Never mix when the rice is hot, otherwise, it will get mushy.
rice for pulihora
  • Step 2 – In a pan or kadhai, heat some oil and put chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, peanuts, asafoetida, red chillies and green chillies. Fry the tempering until the rawness of peanuts disappears and the mustard seeds start spluttering.
pulihora mix
  • Step 3 – Then add in the curry leaves, salt and turmeric and mix.
pulihora mix
  • Step 4 – Now add the tamarind extract and cook until the oil separates and the extract thickens.
pulihora mix
  • Step 5 – Next add the prepared paste to the cooked and cooled rice and mix it well such that the entire rice gets coated with the paste which means every grain is coloured in yellow (turmeric) and not one grain of rice remains white.
pulihora paste
  • Step 6 – Pulihora is ready to be relished. It can be served as a standalone dish or along with other Lunch/Dinner items. Pulihora can be had as it is and/or in combination with curd. Either way, it is heavenly!

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