Easiest Pulihora Recipe | Tamarind Rice | Chintapandu Pulihora
Pulihora recipe is a popular flavored rice from the Andhra cuisine. It is made with cooked rice, tempering spice, and tamarind pulp. This flavored rice tastes deliciously tangy and mildly spiced.
Rice is a staple in South India and is cooked every day for lunch and dinner. Apart from steamed white rice, a variety of flavored rice dishes are made. There are some other standalone recipes that are exclusively made with rice and pulihora is one of them.
The pulihora recipe I’m sharing today is a basic version of how my mom and grandmother have always prepared. In Telugu households many times, tamarind rice is prepared with leftover rice from the previous day and is generally prepared for breakfast or for lunch boxes.
What is Pulihora (Tamarind Rice)?
The word pulihora is a combination of two words Puli and Hora. ‘Puli’ is derived from ‘pulupu’ which means sour or tangy. ‘Hora’ is derived from ‘origamu’ which means food or meals in the Telugu language.
Pulihora is a generic name given to flavored rice dishes made with a sour ingredient and a tempering is added. The sourness or tanginess in the recipe comes from tamarind, so it is known as Chintapandu Pulihora in the Telugu language which translates to Tamarind Rice. It is also known as the poor man’s feast as it is so affordable and made with basic pantry ingredients.
Pulihora is known for its combination of flavors. It is a perfect melange of 5 distinct flavors – spicy, sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
Depending on the ingredient used to bring sourness in the pulihora recipe, there are different types;
Nimmakaya Pulihora – Lemon Rice
Mamidikaya Pulihora – Raw Mango Rice
Gongura Pulihora – Sorrel leaves Rice
Usirikaya Pulihora – Gooseberry (amla) Rice
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is a must on the menu for almost all auspicious occasions and festivals such as Navaratri, Sankranti, Varalakshmi Vratham, Ganesh Chaturthi, and Ugadi as it does not have onion or garlic.
Also, in the South Indian temples, the pulihora is commonly served as a prasad. Depending on the region, there are slight variations between Andhra Pulihora, Tamilnadu Puliyodarai, and Karnataka Puliyogare.
About Pulihora Recipe
The basic Pulihora recipe is typically made with rice, tamarind, green chilies, peanuts, and South Indian tempering ingredients.
The base of the dish consists of concentrated tamarind gravy which is seasoned with a variety of ingredients oil, cumin, mustard seeds, chilies (red and green), ginger, peanuts, lentils, asafoetida, curry leaves, and salt.
There are few ingredients distinct in Andhra Style tamarind rice making it so colorful, unique, tasty, and delectable. There is something magical about the textures and flavors in this simple dish.
The main highlight of tamarind rice is the explosion of flavors in each bite you experience in your mouth. Apart from the tanginess of the tamarind, there is heat from the chilies, sharp spice from the ginger, and a hint of sweetness from the jaggery. Pulihora gets its signature bright yellow color from turmeric powder.
With this simple recipe, even a novice or bachelor can make pulihora easily. All you need is to cook the rice and make the tamarind gravy. Mix both of them and enjoy a bowl of fresh home-cooked food.
There are two methods through which we can make tamarind rice:
1. Cook the rice separately and make the tamarind pulusu/gravy seasoned with peanuts, lentils, chilies, and basic South Indian tempering ingredients that is cooked to get a thick paste. Later mix both.
2. Cook the rice separately, and make the tamarind gravy. Mix both and add a crunchy tempering/tadka.
The recipe I’m sharing is the first method. In this method, the ingredients absorb all the flavors and taste better.
My Andhra-style Pulihora recipe has 3 steps:
1. Cook the rice.
2. Prepare concentrated tamarind paste seasoned with fenugreek seeds, peanuts, and green chilies, along with a few basic tempering ingredients.
3. Mix the concentrated tamarind paste with cooked rice.
This recipe is just a guide. There is no specific measurement of ingredients you need to follow. You can adjust the spice, heat, and tanginess as per your preference.
Reasons to try
Flavorful rice dish.
Bachelor and beginner friendly recipe.
Rice tastes wonderfully sour, deliciously tangy, and mildly spicy.
Ideal choice to make for a lunch box, picnic, long road trips, or train travel.
Stimulates the taste buds.
A complete meal in itself.
I highly recommend preparing this rice dish with medium grain rice like sona masoori, hmt rice, or kolam.
Cook the rice with 1/4-1/2 cup less water than our regular rice cooking. The water quntity will depend on the variety of rice. Also, add oil this ensures the rice is fluffy and non-sticky.
The key to making the best pulihora is keeping the rice grains separate, grainy, yet fully cooked.
Avoid using freshly cooked rice that has moisture in it. Mixing tamarind gravy with hot rice will make the rice mushy. Let the rice cool down and mix the tamarind pulusu.
If you are a beginner or making pulihora for the first time, do not add the whole tamarind gravy to the rice. Keep some of it aside, mix the rice, taste it, and add more if needed.
The pulihora tastes better, the longer it rests. Pulihora needs a standing time of a minimum of 1 hour for all its flavors to blend well. So, I recommend preparing this flavored rice at least an hour before serving to relish its actual taste and flavor.
Rice: The best rice to make pulihora is medium-grain rice. I have used sona masoori in this recipe. Avoid using aromatic rice varieties like basmati or jasmine.
Tamarind: It is the key ingredient in tamarind rice preparation. The quantity of tamarind can vary depending on the variety and tanginess of the tamarind.
Tempering: oil, fenugreek seeds, peanuts, mustard seeds, lentils (chana dal and urad dal), dry red chilies, green chilies, cashews, ginger, curry leaves, and asafoetida.
Peanuts and lentils add a nice crunch to the recipe.
Jaggery: This is an optional ingredient but adding it in a small quantity balances the sour and spicy taste in pulihora.
How to make Pulihora (step by step)
1. Place tamarind in a bowl and heat until there is a boil. Switch off the flame and let it rest in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
This will soften the tamarind.
2. Squeeze the tamarind well with your fingers. Pass this through a strainer placed over an empty bowl. Use a serving spoon and firmly press down on the tamarind pulp until nothing but seeds and fiber are left in the strainer, discard the contents in the strainer.
Keep the tamarind pulp aside.
3. Measure 1 cup rice in a bowl.
4. Rinse it well until the water runs clear.
5. Add 1.5 cups of water, 2 tsp oil, and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder. Give a good mix.
6. I cook the rice in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles on high flame and 5 minutes on low flame. Turn off the flame, and let the pressure goes off naturally.
Cook the rice at your convenience, in a pressure cooker, instant pot, rice cooker, or in a pan on the stovetop. Adjust the rice: water ratio and cooking time accordingly. Make sure the rice is grainy and not mushy.
7. Take a wide bowl and add curry leaves.
8. Add the hot cooked rice and spread it gently, you do not want the rice grains to break. Let it rest until the rice cools down.
This will impart rice with a beautiful aroma of curry leaves.
9. Add oil to a pan and heat it over medium flame. When hot, add fenugreek seeds. Cook until it starts to change color.
If you do not like the seeds, replace them with fenugreek powder (grind 1/4 tsp of seeds) and add at step 13.
10. Add peanuts, chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, and cumin. Saute until the lentils change color to light golden.
11. Next, add cashews, green chilies, dry red chilies, chopped ginger, and curry leaves. Saute everything well until the curry leaves turn crisp. Add asafoetida and give a good mix.
12. Add the tamarind pulp and give a good mix.
13. Add salt to taste and mix well.
14. Continue to cook on low flame until the tamarind pulp thickens and the oil separates.
15. Add a small piece of jaggery and mix until it melts completely.
16. Once the oil separates, turn off the flame.
17. Add the tamarind gravy to the cooled rice.
18. As the mixture is hot, use a serving spoon or ladle to mix everything well. Taste test and add salt if needed. After a few minutes, use your fingers to mix everything well. If there are any rice lumps, break them. Serve with potato fry or your choice of side dish.
If time permits rest the dish for 1-2 hours. The rice and other ingredients will absorb all the flavors and the pulihora will taste better.
During festivals, Pulihora is usually part of a larger meal. On weekdays, it is served as a main course on its own and does not need any side dish. At home, I like to pair it with curd and pappadams.
However, when on a long road trip, train journey, and picnic, pack some potato fry on the side.
Tamarind rice has a shelf life of two days at room temperature.
If you are going to make this rice on regular basis like once or twice a week. Then I would suggest that you make a large quantity of tamarind pulusu/gojju and store it in the refrigerator for about a month easily. To increase the shelf life, we need a little more Oil than usual. Cook rice, cool it and mix the tamarind pulusu as required. Pulihora is ready within minutes.
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Easiest Pulihora Recipe | Tamarind Rice
For Tamarind pulp
- 1/4 cup Tamarind
- 1/2 cup Water
- 1 cup Raw Rice (medium-grain)
- 2 tsp Oil
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
- 1.5 cups Water
- 2-3 tbsp Oil
- 1-2 tbsp Peanuts
- 1/2 tbsp Split Bengal gram (chana dal)
- 1/2 tbsp Black gram (urad dal)
- 1/2-1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1/2-1 tsp Cumin
- 4-6 numbers Green chilies (as per your taste)
- 4-5 numbers Dry red chilies
- 8-10 numbers Cashews (optional)
- 2 sprigs Curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp Jaggery
Soaking the tamarind
- Place tamarind in a bowl and heat until there is a boil. Switch off the flame and let it rest in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
- Squeeze the tamarind well with your fingers. Pass this through a strainer placed over an empty bowl. Use a serving spoon and firmly press down on the tamarind pulp until nothing but seeds and fiber are left in the strainer, discard the contents in the strainer.
- Keep the tamarind pulp aside.
Cooking the Rice
- Measure 1 cup of rice in a bowl. Rinse it well until the water runs clear.
- Add water, oil, and turmeric powder. Give a good mix.
- Place the bowl in a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles on high flame and 5 minutes on low flame. Turn off the flame, and let the pressure goes off naturally.
- Take a wide bowl and add curry leaves.
- Add the hot cooked rice and spread it gently. Let it rest until the rice cools down.
- Add oil to a pan and heat it over medium flame. When hot, add fenugreek seeds. Cook until it starts to change color.
- Add peanuts, chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, and cumin. Saute until the lentils change color to light golden.
- Next, add cashews, green chilies, dry red chilies, chopped ginger, and curry leaves. Saute everything well until the curry leaves turn crisp. Add asafoetida and give a good mix.
- Turn the flame to low and add the tamarind pulp and give a good mix.
- Add salt to taste and mix well.
- Continue to cook on low flame until the tamarind pulp thickens and the oil separates.
- Add a small piece of jaggery and mix until it melts completely.
- Once the oil separates, turn off the flame.
- Add the tamarind gravy to the cooled rice.
- Use a serving spoon or ladle and mix everything well. If time permits, rest for 1-2 hours.
- Serve with potato fry or your choice of side dish.
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