Thursday, July 4, 2013

(Kovil) Puliyodharai - Tamarind Rice

Prep time: 20 min                  Cooking time: 20 min                                    Makes: 8-10 servings

tamarind rice

Puliyodarai / Puliyogare / Pulihora / Chitrannam / Puli saadham / Tamarind rice... Call it by whatever name you want. This spicy-tangy rice dish is something that every South Indian household swears by :) The long-shelf-life, ready-to-mix paste makes it ideal for packing for long travel, picnics, weekday lunchbox, hostel-life staples, bachelor cooking, etc. And like the many names it has, there are a multitude of variations too :) Every household in the South has its own version of making this lip-smacking dish. But the most popular version is the 'prasaadam' we get in our Perumal (Vishnu) temples.. I am a die-hard fan of this puliyodharai and was extremely delighted when I came to know that my mother-in-law had a key to its secret recipe :)
She has made it for me whenever she/we visit(s) and I have indulged in its delight.. I have observed her making it but I've always got lost in its taste and hence the recipe has not until now stuck to my brain as much as the taste has :) This time though, I watched the procedure step-by-step and took notes so I can record it here for myself and for my readers... Here's the key:


Tamarind - the size of a small orange when rolled
Cooked rice - 2 cups (for 2 servings)
Groundnuts - a handful, roasted and peel removed

 For tempering:

Chana dal (kadala paruppu / bengal gram) - 2 tbsp
Urad dal (uluthham paruppu) - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 2 tsp
Garlic cloves- 15 peeled (optional -  it's not generally used in temples but gives a nice flavor when added)
Curry leaves - 3-4 sprigs
Red chillies - 6-7
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Asafoetida (perungaayam) - 1/4 tsp
Gingelly oil (nallennai / til ka tel) - 100 ml

To roast separately and grind together-1:

Chana dal - 3 tbsp, till evenly roasted well
Fenugreek seeds - 3tsp, till a strong aroma emanates and is dark brown in colour
(grind till almost fine)

To roast separately and grind together-2:

Coriander seeds- 5 tbsp, till evenly roasted well
Red chillies - 5, roast just for about 20 seconds
(grind only till the mixture is grainy.. not fine)


Soak the tamarind in a cup of water for about half an hour. Meanwhile, roast the groundnuts and peel them. Also roast and grind both the powders. Heat the oil in a thick and deep frying pan/ kadai and add the chana dal for tempering. Once it turns reddish brown, add the urad dal and mustard seeds. Next add the garlic cloves and red chillies (preferably broken into two with the hand). After the garlic starts turning colour, add the curry leaves.

Now, extract the thick juice of the tamarind and remove the fibre and seeds if any. Add the extract to the kadai, filtering all the while with your fingers to remove any leftover fibre. Then add the turmeric, asafoetida and salt as suited to your taste. Once the mixture comes to a rolling boil, add the chana dal- fenugreek mixture, lower the flame and let it cook for about 7-8 minutes. (Close with a lid if needed since the mixture tends to splatter a lot).

After the mixture is cooked and thickens, put off the flame and then add the coriander - red chilly powder and groundnuts. Mix well. Your pulikaaichal is ready!

 For serving, in a large bowl or platter, spread the cooked rice and mix well with a tsp of gingelly oil to separate the grains. Add two small ladlefuls of the prepared pulikaaichal and mix thoroughly without squashing the rice.. Voila kovil puliyodharai!

 (The difference in the colour of the pics is due to the difference in lighting in the kitchen and living room :))


1. After the pulikaaichal has cooled down, you can store it in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for later use. It stays good for upto a week to 10 days. Do not reduce the quantity of oil from the recipe if you plan to store like this. The oil helps in preserving the paste and retaining the taste too.
2. Some cooks prefer to add the coriander-red chilly powder later to the rice while mixing. It is purely your choice.


  1. I too like the pulihora very expert in eating ;-) when mom cooks for me.. shld start learning how to cook..:)

    1. ha ha :) Hope this recipe comes handy for u!

  2. Have been using the MTR mix till now, will surely give this a try!!