Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Tamarind Rice/Pulihora - Temple-style

Dear Foodies,

Temple-style pulihoraIf I had to choose just one dish to eat the rest of my life, this might well be it. I l.o.v.e pulihora, every bit of it - the tangy tamarind, the crunchy peanuts and dals and rice, O rice! whats not to love in this divine combo. And rightly so it is served in all the temples in Southern India as the Lord's prasadam (gift). The play of textures and flavors plays a huge role in this simple dish. I used to love gobbling up the tiny handful that was passed on after the Darshan(offering prayers) at temples. I would eat up my share and then wait for my parents to give me their share too, the things parents will do for their kids! J) There is something magical about the pulihora served at temples which can never be found in the ones made at home. When I was in Cleveland, I got to visit the Shiva-Vishnu Temple at Pittsburgh quite often and after the wonderful darshan I would pick up a couple of pulihora boxes at the canteen. A perfect treat after the early morning 2hr drive and darshan.
Temple-style pulihoraPulihora, simply put, is rice flavored with a tart/sour ingredient, tempered with mild spices, roasted peanuts & lentils. The main flavor component could come from tamarind, lemon, mango or sorrel leaves - they are all fabulous. Every cook has a special recipe for it, and doing the rounds during the festival time with my mom was fun as I would get to taste quite a few pulihara and sundal recipes. My mother makes a gojju/pulikachal first that she adds to the rice along with a roasted dal powder. I would always hoard the peanuts while serving myself competing with my brother for the larger share. I don't know if I like the rice better or if it is the peanuts that I'm after ;) Most festival or celebratory lunch/dinner menus feature atleast one form of pulihora or kalandha sadham, as it’s called in Tamil. The meal would feel incomplete without one of them. They are simple to make and use very humble ingredients, but the end product you get is much larger than the sum of its parts. I think the tangy component in the pulihora also tickles the taste buds and get the digestive fluids flowing so you are ready to attack the rest of the meal ;)

When I am in a pinch and need to make something quick I use the MTR instant puliyogare mix if I have it or make a near instant tamarind gravy. Heat up some sesame oil, toast mustard seeds, chana dal, peanuts, curry leaves and green chillies. Add turmeric, hing and a watery tamarind extract with salt, cook until the rawness is coaxed out of the tamarind and its ready to envelope the warm rice grains. This will take you less than 15 mins, just enough to have some rice going in the cooker. This is a quick and hits the spot, but when you have some extra time and want a hint of the magic that you savor at the temples start off by making a thick gojju, like my mother does. Sesame oil is the key to getting the flavor right, no other oil will work here. Roast the peanuts in the oil on medium or medium-low heat, it’ll take longer but you’ll achieve even browning that’s delicious and adds ten-fold to the flavor of the pulihora.
Temple-style pulihora & Dhadhojanam
Temple-style Chintapandu Pulihora/Puliyodarai

Ingredients:
Chintapandu Gojju/Pulikachal
  • 3-4 Tbsp - Sesame (Gingely) Oil
  • ¼ cup – Peanuts, raw
  • ½ tsp - Mustard Seeds
  • 1 Tbsp - Channa Dal
  • 1 tsp - Urad Dal
  • 1-3 nos – dried Red chillies (adjust to taste, more chillies are added in the roasted powder)
  • 6-8 nos - Curry Leaves, washed & patted dry and roughly torn into pieces
  • ½ tsp - Turmeric Powder
  • A pinch of Asafoetida/hing/inguva
  • A golf ball sized chunk of raw Tamarind pulp – soaked in ½ cup warm water for 10mins
  • Salt to taste
Roasted powder:
  • 1 ½ Tbsp – Sesame oil
  • 1 ½ Tbsp - Channa Dal
  • 1 Tbsp - Urad dal
  • ½ Tbsp - Coriander Seeds/Dhania
  • 3-4 nos – dried Red Chillies
  • ½ tsp - Fenugreek Seeds/Menthulu
  • 1 Tbsp – Sesame seeds
Method:
  1. Cook 2 cups of rice using a 1:2 ratio of rice-to-water.
  2. Using your hands squeeze out the thick tamarind pulp and discard the seeds and fiber.
  3. Heat oil in a sauce pan on medium-low heat and add the peanuts. Roast until they start to turn a slight reddish orange color. Add the mustard seeds and dals next and continue to roast them until they get an even brown color.
  4. Add the curry leaves, red chillies, turmeric powder and asafoetida and stir for 30 secs more. Carefully pour in the tamarind extract, a little salt and cook for 10-15mins until the gojju comes together as a thick mass and the oil begins to separate and collect around the edges.
  5. In the meantime, in a shallow pan, heat a tablespoon of sesame oil and roast the dals to give them a head start. As they begin to turn color add the coriander seeds and red chillies. When all the ingredients have changed color to a deep reddish orange, bring down the heat a little and add the fenugreek and sesame seeds. These two ingredients tend to burn quickly so it is better to heat them on a low heat. Roast until the sesame seeds begin to splutter, take off the heat and cool for a few minutes before grinding them to a fine powder.
  6. Once the rice is cooked, spread it in a wide dish to cool a bit, holding back about a cup of rice. Drizzle a little sesame oil on top and add a few tablespoons of the gojju. Mix lightly without bruising the rice grains. Add salt and more gojju or rice according to taste.
  7. As a final garnish sprinkle the roasted powder on top and mix it in. Cover the pulihora and let it rest for atleast 30mins before serving. You could take photos in the mean time ;)
Notes:
- Don’t add all the salt to the tamarind extract in the beginning of the cooking process. Since the gojju reduces and thickens towards the end, if you salt to taste in the beginning it will be over salted by the time it’s done cooking.
- Even if it takes you longer, use a medium to medium-low heat and brown the peanuts evenly, they contribute a lot to the final taste of the pulihora.
- If you like your tamarind rice to be a nice glowing yellow, slightly warm up a spoon of sesame oil with a pinch of turmeric and drizzle it on the warm rice before adding the gojju. If the rice is warm enough, you can skip heating the oil.
- Double the quantity of gojju and store the leftovers in the fridge, it’ll keep well for weeks in an airtight container.

Dhadhojanam/Yogurt Rice

This is a simplified version of the original.
For two cups of cooked rice,
  • In a popu/tadka pan – heat a ½ tsp of vegetable oil and toast ½ tsp of mustard seeds, 1 tsp urad dal, 1 dried chilli broken in bits, 1 green chilli finely chopped, ½ tsp finely chopped ginger, a few curry leaves roughly torn, and a pinch of inguva/asafoetida. Heat another tsp of oil and fry up a couple of salt cured chillies/uppu mirapa.
  • To the cooled rice add 1 cup thick yogurt, ¼ cup milk, 2 Tbsp finely chopped carrots & onions, salt to taste and mix well. Top it with the tadka and crumble in the salt-cured chillies. You can also add 1Tbsp of chopped cilantro.
  • Allow it to rest for 30mins before savoring so the flavors get a chance to gel together. The milk helps to keep the yogurt rice loose as it sits for a longer time.
Temple-style pulihoraThis is a dish that has been perfected along the ages and you will see that in the way in which a bunch of very humble ingredients are brought together to create a sublime dish. Every ingredient has a role to play. The nuttiness of the sesame oil and the final punch of toasted sesame powder elevate this dish to a totally different realm of flavors. The curry leaves and red chillies cook down along with the tamarind and are coaxed to lend their entire flavor to the dish and the browned peanuts drink it all up but still manage to retain a little bite. This pulihora is in no way a low-calorie dish with the amount of oil that it has, but the flavors are divine. When you are in a hurry the shortcuts are always there to pull you through, but once in a while, go all out and treat yourself to this pulihora.

To cool you down and soothe the palate, dhadhojanam or yogurt rice is a must-have. Though yogurt/curd is the last course of a meal, I like to serve myself the pulihora and dhadhojanam at the same time and go back n forth between the two while eating. The curd cools your palate and then the pulihora fills it up with tantalizing flavors, what fun ;)

What is your recipe for the perfect pulihora ?

Leave your comment at the end of this post to win a free copy of Anjum's New Indian cookbook!

36 thoughts:

Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

wow, what beautiful pics. Love the presentation.

Manasi said...

I love this! Pulihora does tease the tongue :)
Yogurt rice is like a full stop to the meal, satisfying and soothing:)

divya said...

Such a beautiful color you got..looks very very tempting dear!

Sharmilee! :) said...

Luv the look of ur puliyogare...perfect

indosungod said...

Tamarind rice looks just amazing. This is one dish that has always been a favorite and still is.

Vani said...

Been to that temple in Pittsburgh once when I had to attend a wedding. We had the yum puliyogare for breakfast then! Good stuff.

Yours looks good, Priya! Loved your book review post and the pictures. Tickled with their marketing strategy - so smart to have food bloggers try and write about it.

Hope you're well. Take care now.

Apu said...

Delicious!! Love these in my local temple too!!

Lavi said...

Love the thought of parcel to click!!

Great Combo Meals!

Priya said...


Priya, the moment I thought of temples and pulihora, the paper packets came to mind :)

Manasi, you are so right abt yogurt being the end. A meal never feels complete without it.

Divya, the turmeric in the end did the trick :) I wanted to make another batch while doing this post.

Sharmilee, thank you :)

Indo, same here, nothing has replaced it so far.

Vani, they make really good puliyogare at the temple there.

And agree with you abt the marketing, works a lot better than other forms right now for them. They seem to have so many in circulation!

Apu, temples are always the champions in pulihora making :)

Lavi, thank you :) The pulihora reminded me of the packets we get in the temple and so...

Sonia@7spice said...

Can you believe me...at the end of the recipe my mouth is watering no even if I just have had my dinner. ;) Pulihora looks so so good and don't know abt others but mouth is filled with water. :D

Will try someday, sure!

Pavani said...

I absolutely have to try your recipe soon. I makes your quick tamarind rice recipe most of the time and always wondered how temple tamarind rice is made.. Thanks for sharing with those mouth watering pictures.

Shalini said...

Hi priya ,being a north indian,we never tasted this recipe but i love your style of descibing the method of cooking and enjoying is so good that i like to read your blog.we people eat raita with roti.if u talk about temple prasad,that taste too gud always because it is offered to god first.thanks for sharing nice pics and recipes..
Shalini
Dubai

Srimathi said...

I would like to grab the parcel from your blog site. I love puliodhari especially from the temple.

Sreelu said...

delish

Jisha said...

yummy and very tempting...

notyet100 said...

drooling,..;-)

Anita said...

I love all the 'varity' rices! I am so making this for the picnic next week! I have made pulihora only once using a packaged masala and wasn't too happy with it. I can see how this is more elaborate than lemon rice (which was my fall-back picnic rice dish yet!).

notyet100 said...

prepared curd rice today from ur blog ,thnkas for the recipe,..

Sathya Sankar said...

Pulihora looks delicious, drool worthy recipe !

Priya said...


Sonia, its the same with me! This is one of my most favorite dishes.

Pavani, my mom has been using this method forever and I never tried it until recently! :(( I always made the instant one only :(

Shalini, thank you so much :) I am glad you like visiting my space. And you are so right about prasad's. Raita and roti sounds like an interesting combination. What kind of raita do you usually make ?

Srimathi, I wish I could send you all a parcel! :( I wish more temples here gave puliyodarai instead of dry fruits :D

Sreelu, Jisha, notyet100, thank you ladies :)

Priya said...


Anita, variety rices' are perfect picnic food. They can be enjoyed at room temp, and the waiting time helps enhance the flavor.

This one does take a little longer than lemon rice, but the best part is you can make the tamarind mix a day or even a week ahead and store it in the fridge. Since all the moisture is cooked out and it has a bit of oil, it stores really well.

notyet100, when I feel lazy I also make it with thick poha. After washing the poha, I squeeze out the water and dunk it into the curd. I let it soak in it for about 30mins before eating, yummm.

Sathya, thank you :)

Nikki said...

oooo,,ur posts are alwasys so tempting priya..love them and they sure inspire me to cook and experiement more n more.
Enjoy and Happy cooking,
Nikki
titilating-tastebuds,blogspot.com

Sharmilee! :) said...

I tried this today and it canme out perfect like the temple puliyohare. I was a bit skeptical on adding the roasted powder as such to the rice, but it was the major difference and it tasted too gud. The only thing I felt was it was a lil spicy for us may be next time will reduce the redchillies otherwise a keeper recipe. Thanks Priya for sharing the recipe!

Priya said...


Sharmilee, I felt the same about adding the roasted powder, but that is the game changer. It gives the pulihora tonnes of flavor. And sorry about the spice level, I will reduce the number in the recipe and leave it to taste. I made it a little spicy at home.

sushmajampani said...

wowwwww.it came out the same way that i've tasted in our simhachalam temple,Visakhapatnam,,,,,amazg i totally loved it...next time i shuld make it little spicier ...thx for the post ....i was wanting it since 2 yrs...my taste buds got satisfied....thx dear

Nikki said...

after a long time I'm visiting ur space.looks like a lot of nice improvements..luv the pics,,which camera are you using for pics?amazing colours and this temple dish is tempting

P.K.Sundar said...

hey Priya
Good to see you are back. I tried your recipe yesterday and it turned out to be great. I added the powder to the pulikaychal at the end as in my house we mix it with rice on the plate as and when the mood takes or more particularly when the sambhar is a disaster. i am gonna try your baghara baingan in the next couple of days. Have some plump brinjals in the garden that are asking to be cooked. Will let you know how that turns out.
shobs

Sangeetha Nambi said...

Lovely This. My favorite. Keep Posting :)

http://recipe-excavator.blogspot.com

Sharmilee! :) said...

Priya, posted the recipe here :)
http://www.sharmispassions.com/2011/06/kovil-puliyodharai.html

Radhika said...

I have tried out your recipe for pulihora today and it turned out awesome!! Brought back memories of temple pulihora. Thanks a lot.

mprem123 said...

Hi. I tried ur recipe. Everything was going good but finally became slight disaster. I heated the tamarind paste for 15 mins in low flame. When i allowed it to cool for sometime, tamarind coated around the peanuts, urad and channa dals and became very crispy. What was the mistake. Whether i have overheated it? Had enough seasame oil. Plz advice.

Thanks
Prem

sthitapragnya said...

Hello andi, I don't know if you remember me, I am 'Sthitapragnya' on the blogosphere. We've shared a few comments on each other's posts some years ago. I told you I was from Hyderabad and you suggested I do a post on the city (which is still long overdue, btw).

Anyway, the sight of Pulihora and Dadhyojanam almost moved me to tears. I want some right now and I'm making it tonight. Also, the roasted powder sounds a little like it's Sambar powder. Correct me if I'm wrong.

My atta makes the best Pulihora I've eaten so far (outside of the Tirumala temple, of course!) and she does sprinkle a dash of homemade Sambar powder into the whole tamarind concoction which gives the taste a whole new dimension. May be you can try it sometime and tell me how it tastes.

sthitapragnya said...

Hello andi, I don't know if you remember me, I am 'Sthitapragnya' on the blogosphere. We've shared a few comments on each other's posts some years ago. I told you I was from Hyderabad and you suggested I do a post on the city (which is still long overdue, btw).

Anyway, the sight of Pulihora and Dadhyojanam almost moved me to tears. I want some right now and I'm making it tonight. Also, the roasted powder sounds a little like it's Sambar powder. Correct me if I'm wrong.

My atta makes the best Pulihora I've eaten so far (outside of the Tirumala temple, of course!) and she does sprinkle a dash of homemade Sambar powder into the whole tamarind concoction which gives the taste a whole new dimension. May be you can try it sometime and tell me how it tastes, unless the roasted powder you just spoke about IS Sambar powder. In that case, I'm sorry I took up so much space! :P

Anu Shoj said...

v happy to follow you here....gr8 recipes and awesome looking blog.

Cheers
Anu
Anu's Healthy Kitchen

Vemula Madhu said...

wow spicy recipes
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Renu Aggarwal said...

Took me 40 years back when I enjoyed the original dishes in South India

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