It's time for the alphabet 'C' and time for the most traditional dish of my A - Z Rice series. I didn't have to think twice for the letter 'C' since this 'chintapandu pulihora' post has been long due on my blog. Chintapandu pulihora aka the tamarind rice has a significant place in Andhra cooking or south Indian cooking for that matter. Whether you call it pulihora / puliyogare / puliyodarai depending upon which part of south India you are from, this classic dish steals the limelight among the traditional rice recipes. It appears on every menu associated with auspicious occasions and festive meals. It is one of the preferred and common neivedyams (food offering to Gods) offered at hindu temples and distributed as prasadam (the neivedyam distributed among devotees). It is also one of the commonly carried items for picnics and long distance travels since it doesn't get spoiled for at least a couple of days even without refrigeration.
The word 'puliohora' literally means a sour dish, the word 'puli' coming from 'pulupu' which means sour in Telugu. The traditional version of pulihoras are made using tamarind / lemon or mango though some just refer to the tamarind rice as pulihora. The version I am posting today is a pretty common one in Andhra brahmin households though there are versions with the addition of powdered sesame seeds / mustard seeds.
My maternal grandmother used to make a superb pulihora and till date I haven't eaten a version that at least came closer to hers, in terms of taste and flavors. Neither my mother nor my aunts have been able to replicate her pulihora taste though they are all considered wonderful cooks and make good pulihoras. My version is usually good, better than the most of the versions sold across the temples in U.S., according to my family. I have learnt from experience that though a pulihora recipe is simple and straight forward, balancing the flavors is the most important aspect in the preparation of tamarind rice and a few trials go in mastering the recipe. It is hard to exactly give the right measurements since tamarind / chillies / jaggery from one batch to another do not taste the same and for the same reason, I held back all these years from posting a recipe. These measurements made a very good pulihora with the kind of tamarind and the very spicy variety chillies I used. And so use your discretion and the below recipe can be used as a guideline. Taste the gojju / pulihora if needed during preparation. The gojju can be prepared in advance and stored for weeks. It is convenient to have it handy when preparing a quick or impromptu meal.
Ingredients for 8 - 10 servings:
5 to 6 cups cooked rice *
1 cup tamarind puree
3 to 4 tbsp. oil
3 dried red chilies
1/2 cup peanuts
2 tbsp. chanadal / split chickpeas
1 tbsp. urad dal / black gram
1 tsp. mustard seeds
3 to 4 green chilies, slit lengthwise (I used medium sized, Serrnao peppers)
1 - 2 sprig of curry leaves
1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
1/8 tsp. asafoetida powder
2 tbsp. powdered jaggery (or adjust as needed)
2 tsp. salt approximately or as per taste
* - A medium grained south Indian variety white rice such as sona masuri
* Heat oil in a kadai or preferably a non stick pan. Add red chillies, peanuts, split chick peas, black gram and mustard seeds in that order. Stir and when peanuts appear golden brown, add green chillies and saute for few seconds.
* Next add curry leaves, turmeric powder and asafoetida powder. Stir for few seconds and pour the tamarind puree into the pan.
* Cook the mixture until it thickens, with intermittent stirring. Stay near the stove at the final stages since the mixture may stick to the pan and burn, especially when not using a non stick pan. Add salt and jaggery and stir until they combine. Turn off the stove and let the mixture cool.
* This paste can be used immediately at this point or can be stored for later use. The mixture stays good even if left outside on a counter for few days but to be on a safer side, let it be refrigerated.
* Meanwhile, spread the rice on a wide plate. (My mother sprinkles turmeric powder on the rice and pours the cooked paste over it, instead of adding turmeric in the seasoning.) Add the cooked paste to the rice and mix well. Let it sit for few minutes for the flavors to develop. Taste and add if any extra salt is needed. Extra rice can be added if the pulihora seems spicy.
(Cook extra rice in case. You may start with 3/4th quantity of the rice and about 3/4th of the paste to begin with so that you can taste and adjust the quantities of rice and tamarind paste to suit your tastes.)
* Serve with some papad, potato chips or wadi / vadiyalu.
Recipes so far in A - Z Rice Dishes,
A for Achaari Chole Pulao
B for Bhuna Khichuri