Mar 24, 2008

Recipe - Tamarind rice (Pulihara/Puli rice/Pulighodarai)

Rice mixed with tamarind sauce and spices


Pulihara reminds me of temples and festive seasons. Tamarind rice is prepared as an offering at the temples almost everyday and is served as "prasad/bhog". Tamarind rice is very famous in south India. Each state, for that matter every household, in southern India prepares tamarind rice with variations. For example, small amounts of coconut or sesame seeds are added. The basic preparation for tamarind rice remains the same. The taste of pulihara is based on how carefully, tamarind gravy is prepared.

After leaving home, pulihara is prepared almost once in a month with the left over rice. I usually prepare the tamarind gravy before hand and freeze store them in small containers. I use them whenever needed and this gravy comes very handy.


  • Rice - 1 cup (standard measuring cup not the rice cooker cup)
  • Tamarind - 1 lemon size (soaked in 1 cup of water)
  • Cashew nuts/ground nuts roasted - 1/4 cup (optional)
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Hing ( asafoetida) - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Sugar - 1 teaspoon
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon (according to taste)


  • Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • Chana dal (bengal gram) - 1 teaspoon
  • Urad dal (black gram) - 1/ teaspoon
  • Cumin - 1/2 teaspoon
  • Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
  • Curry leaves - 2 stalks
  • Green chilies - 2 serrano peppers ( 2 Indian green chilies)
  • Dry red chilies - 3 (cut in small pieces)
  • Oil - 1 tablespoon

Cook Rice:

Wash rice, add 2 cups of water with salt and one teaspoon of oil. Cook the rice separately and set it aside.


Preparation for the tamarind gravy:

Preheat oil in a wok/kadai at medium high temperature. Add chana dal, urad dal, cumin seeds and mustard seeds. Let the seeds splutter, add hing, green chilies, dried chilies, and curry leaves. Sautee them well.

Add tamarind juice/pulp, turmeric powder, nuts, sugar, and salt (according to taste). Remember, salt is added to cooked rice. Boil the tamarind pulp, cook it well (till the raw smell from tamarind is gone) at medium heat temperature. Some cooks prefer to notice the oil floating/leaving the walls of the wok. Approximately 10 minutes.

In a large open bowl, spread rice, slowly add tamarind gravy. Do not pour it all at once. One can't tell the sourness of the tamarind mixture, unless one is a very good cook.

Add the mixture according to your taste. If any tamarind mixture is left over , do not discard. Freeze the mixture, which will come handy. After tamarind gravy is mixed well, set the rice aside for 15 - 20 minutes for all the juices to blend with rice.

You may notice the rice is little wet. Not to worry, after an hour of preparation, all the juices will be absorbed by the rice.

Preparation time 20 - 30 minutes

Servings: 4


Mix left over rice, tamarind mixture and 1 tablespoon of sambar powder. The result will be awesome :-)

For Tamarind pulp:

Take 5 small stalks of tamarind add half cup of water and microwave it for 2- 3 minutes. The water will decrease to 1/4cup. Let it cool and then mash the tamarind pulp with a spoon and filter it.

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Some of the recipes presented here are originally inspired by others. Credit is given to the original postings. I have listed recipes here for my own reference as well as pictures are my addition to the whole cooking experience. Enjoy.