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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

I for lyengar Puliyogare / Iyengar Puliyodharai

I am posting recipes this month, along with a blogging group, with a theme of 'Biryanis, Pulaos and Khichdis'. Though the main focus is on those mentioned categories, there was an option of throwing in some south Indian style rice dishes as well. The only conditions were that the dish would be a grain based one and would feature a series of either Indian or international variations. Though traditionally the themed dishes are mostly made with rice, it was decided that other healthy grains could be used as substitutes. Easy enough but my brain conveniently chose to ignore the 'grain' part though I was seeing it over and over again in the email chain discussions that were going on between the bloggers during the preparation time. I ignored the 'Iyengar puliyogare' that was on my final list and went ahead with 'Idiyappam biryani' instead, patting myself on the back for not inserting a south Indian dish to the 'Biryani / Pulao / Khichdi' series. I forgot that only grain / grits is allowed but not flour or batter.

I realized just last night while scheduling the post that it wasn't a grain based one. Valli, the BM group creator and coordinator, as usual was gracious enough to give me a green signal to go ahead with the dish since it was late for me to cook another dish but I wasn't happy with my error. However I wasn't sure either whether I would be able to click even if I cooked a dish today because of the bad weather. I even frantically looked through my drafts folders to find two rice recipes that could fit today's "I' theme by attaching a prefix of 'Instant', which I didn't want to do. However I took a chance and cooked puliyogare today and to my delight, was even able to take decent pictures in the poor light. And so here is Iyengar style puliyogare or puliyodharai for my 'I' post. 

Iyengars, a Tamil brahmin sect whether they live in Tamilnadu or Karnataka have become synonymous for their traditional recipes and bakeries through out the southern parts of India. This 'puliyodarai' as called in Tamilnadu or 'puliyogare' as called in Kannada is one such culinary delight from them. This is also called kovil puliyodarai aka temple puliyodarai alluding to the fact that it is commonly served as prasdam' (food served to devotees), in temples across south India. Any south Indian would agree that puliyodharis, sweet and savory pongals or for that matter anything that served in temples taste special. Divine touch, perhaps.

When cooked by experts, a simple tamarind rice transforms into an exceptional and hearty meal, infused with a fine balance of flavors. Tamarind rice is a classic rice preparation, popular throughout the southern parts of India and reserved even for festive and wedding meals. A spicy paste of tamarind puree is cooked along with seasonings and tempering which is called pulikachal or gojju and then mixed with rice in any tamarind rice preparation. However there are subtle variations between a standard tamarind rice and this Iyengar version. A ground mixture of lentils and spices is added to the Iyengar version which sets it apart from the standard version and makes it more delicious. One of my mother's neighbors of 3 decades or over are Iyengars from Hassan and I remember my mother learning this style of puliyogare from the mother in law of the family, who happens to be a gem of a lady. One of my sisters-in-law cooked one day this in our home using ground sesame seeds and sambhar powder. I loved it so much that I had noted down the proportions. I usually refer to it while preparing tamarind rice to have an approximate idea on the proportions of the ingredients being used. It comes out good each time. 

Puliyogare stays fresh for two days even without refrigeration when made with freshly cooked rice and completely cooled before packing. That's why it is one of the popular picnic or travel foods in southern India. The cooked tamarind paste aka gojju can be prepared in advance as well and stored for few months. Just take care to add enough salt while cooking, cool it down completely and store it in an airtight, non-metallic container, preferably a glass jar. Refrigerate it for longer shelf life though it can be left outside if consuming within weeks. The gojju comes handy to fix quick meals where you all need is some cooked rice or even some leftover rice to mix it with. 

Ingredients for spice powder: (Yield 1/2 cup)
1.5 tbsp. split chickpeas / chanadal
1 tbsp. split, skinned black gram / urad dal
1.5 tbsp. coriander seeds
4 byadagi chillies or mild ones
3 spicy variety like Guntur red chilies
A pinch of fenugreek seeds
1 tsp. white sesame seeds

Ingredients for tamarind paste and tamarind rice:
8 cups of cooked rice 
100 gm / 3.5 oz / about 1/2 cup tamarind
5 tbsp. sesame oil (Substitute with peanut / canola oil.)
1/4 cup peanuts
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. split chickpeas / chana dal 
1 tsp. skinned blackgram / urad dal (optional)
2 dried red chillies, each broken into 2 or 3 pieces
1 tsp. black sesame seeds
2 sprigs of curry leaves 
2 pinches of asafoetida powder
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder 
About 2 tsp. salt (I added a little more but adjust as needed.)
1/4 cup spice powder
1/4 tsp. mild red chili powder (Optional. I used about 1/2 tsp.)
2 Tbsp. jaggery powder or as needed (I added 5 stevia packets.)

1. Some add peppercorns in the spice powder but I don't. If using black pepper, skip chili powder from the recipe.
2. Adding sesame seeds in the tempering is optional but you usually see them in Karnataka style tamarind rices.
3. Skip or reduce chili powder if you prefer mildly spicy food. Then the other seasonings may need slight adjustments as well. if you don't prefer adding chili powder but prefer heat, increase the quantity of red chilies in tempering.
4. For quick fix, add a tsp. of ground white sesame seeds and 1 to 2 heaped tbsp. of homemade sambhar powder instead of spice powder.
5. The spice powder can be used to prepare the tamarind paste recipe two times. There will be therefore some leftover powder. Store it in an airtight container. Or halve the spice powder recipe if using it for one time tamarind rice preparation.
6. The tempering of peanuts and dals can be added later (if preferred) instead of adding first while preparing the tamarind paste, which keeps the tempering crunchy. 

* Pressure cook south Indian style rice like sona masuri. When the valve pressure is gone, let it sit for few minutes. Remove the cooker lid and spread the rice in a wide plate / pot and keep it aside to cool. 
* Usually here in US, I get 7 oz / 200 gm slabs of tamarind. I used half of it which came to about 1/2 cup.

* Place tamarind in a microwave safe bowl and pour enough water to cover the tamarind and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Or soak it in enough water until it softens.

 * Add split chickpeas / chana dal, blackgram / urad dal and red chillies to a pan. Toast until the dals start to change color. Add coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and sesame seeds and toast until coriander seeds start to brown. Turn off the stove.

* Let them cool and grind finely in a small blender / spice grinder. 
* Remove the seeds from cooked tamarind and run through a blender if preferred. (I don't usually don't do it.) Run the mixture through a sieve and collect the puree. 

* Add a few tbsp. of water if needed, to extract the puree. Don't add too much water, We need about a cup of thick puree for this recipe not watery one. Refrigerate any extra puree or throw away the residue of strings and pith if no more puree can be extracted.

* Heat oil in a pan on medium flame, preferably a non-stick one to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan and to avoid constant stirring. Add peanuts, mustard seeds, split chickpeas / chana dal, split black gram / urad dal, and red chilies to the hot oil. Keep stirring and when the dals start to change color to light brown, add sesame seeds, curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida and stir for about 10 seconds.

* Add the tamarind puree, cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring intermittently. Keep an eye on the cooking tamarind paste, especially if not using a non stick pan.

* Next add salt, chili powder, spice powder and jaggery / sweetener and mix well. Cover and cook the mixture, stirring intermittently. The mixture splutters everywhere while cooking and so, be sure to cover the pan. After a couple of minutes, taste the paste while cooking and adjust the seasonings if needed. Continue to cook until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes more. 

* By the time the tamarind paste would be thicker leaving the oil separate. Don't worry about the quantity of oil. It is perfect when mixed with rice.
 * Add the cooked tamarind gojju / paste to the rice in the pan.
* Mix gently to combine the rice well so that each grain is coated evenly with the gojju. Taste and see whether salt is sufficient. If not, add salt as needed. If the puliyogare is too spicy, add some extra plain rice and mix well.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#99.



vaishali sabnani said...

Suma , kudos ! You have come up with an authentic recipe at the very last minute ! You have beautiful pics and not to forget awesome step by step pics too along with a super write up !
I am drooling over those tamarind pics and naturally the rice too . Stupendous !

Kalyani said...

As an Iyengar, I can confidently say you have nailed it Suma :-) the only change amma makes to your rcipe is using black sesame seeds :-)
Glad you decided to cook this even though at the last minute... the dish looks lovely and great tip to soften tamarind for the gojju using microwave, I think I can use the technique while making all my vathal kuzhambus in bulk !

sushma said...

The Iyendar version puliyogare sounds so delicious. I always have a Andhra style puloyogare mix in my fridge. Will make this version next time. Thanks for the recipe.

Srividhya said...

You know what, I didn't realize no flour or batter are allowed. I ended up making idli biryani. Glad you changed it at the last moment. I love Iyengar puliodarai. Nothing can beat the perumal kovil prasadam.

Harini R said...

I love temple pulihora anyday. I just realized that there is no use of green chilies in this version. The spice powder surely makes it extra special. Kudos for the last minute effort. I am sure it was worth your time. Atleast I am thankful that you put this one up. Bookmarked for sure

Harini R said...

I just realized that I also have the same recipe with very minor variation on my blog. I was drooling on your post nonetheless. :)

Srivalli said...

Wow, Suma, your pictures or the post doesn't reflect it being a last moment one. You have done a great job with the whole post. I can say how much I love Pulihora and pictures are making me drool. I am also so glad you took the pains, we would've missed this post otherwise. I am sure you will share the interesting Idiappam biryani soon..:)

Gayathri Kumar said...

Amma used to make this often and it was her signature dish. And she learnt it from her Iyengar friend. Looking at your recipe makes me nostalgic. You have nailed it, that too at the last moment.

Sharmila Kingsly said...

Cant say how much i love this... Can have it anytime... Beautifully explained and simply love this!!

Pavani said...

Wow, this looks amazing and delicious! Definitely bookmarking this to try later! Thank you for sharing

cookwithrenu said...

Lipsmacking and delicious rice . A delicious bowl I would say

Swati said...

I love the flavours of puliyogare rice and your looks so tempting.. I use the store-bought masala, can refer to your post, when I want to it from scratch.