NRI Pulse

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Pulihora (Tamarind Rice)

What’s Cooking? by P.S. Lakshmi Rao

3 cups long grain rice or jasmine rice

5 cups water

Lemon-size tamarind soaked in 3/4-cup water.  Microwave for a minute to make it soft and let it cool. (Never use black tamarind paste)


¼ cup canola or vegetable oil

½ teaspoon methi seeds (fenugreek seeds)

2 teaspoons small red mustard seeds

2 tablespoons chana dal

2 tablespoons urad dal

5 dry red chilies whole or broken in to three pieces

½-cup cashew pieces or whole cashews

¼ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)

¼ teaspoon hing (asafoetida)

½ teaspoon haldi powder (turmeric)

3 stems of fresh curry leaves (separate leaves from stems) 

5 long hot green or jalapeño chilies cut into one-inch pieces lengthwise

1-tablespoon salt or to taste

1-teaspoon brown sugar or jaggery (optional)

Cook rice with 5 cups water in a rice cooker. You may cook rice in a microwave for 14 minutes in a 4-quart corning ware dish without cover. Cover the rice after 14 minutes without power and keep it aside until you are ready to mix spices.

Squeeze juice out of the soaked tamarind as much as you can. Add 1/2 cup more water to the tamarind to extract more juice out of it.

Heat oil in a 3 quart-sauce pan. Add methi seeds. When methi seeds start to become light brown, add mustard seeds. Fry until they start to sputter. Add chana dal, urad dal, and dry chilies. Fry until dals start to become light brown, add cashews and fry for 30 seconds. Add rest of the ingredients except salt and brown sugar. Fry for a minute. Pour all these spices and 1-tablespoon salt on top of the cooked rice and give a quick mix with wooden or plastic spoon.

Pour tamarind juice into the same saucepan with 1 more tablespoon of salt, brown sugar and tablespoon of oil. Cook on medium heat until oil starts to ooze out to the edges and tamarind juice becomes thick. Pour the cooked tamarind juice into the rice and mix slowly. If you want, you can transfer rice into a bigger bowl to mix properly. You can add more turmeric and salt if needed at this time.  If pulihora tastes salty or too sour don’t worry. After few minutes rice will absorb salt and sourness.

Note: Pulihora does not get spoiled quickly. It tastes good even after two or three days if kept in the refrigerator.  Pulihora on the menu is an indication of celebration. Andhras make this dish for every occasion. On festival days we have to eat pulihora in every house we visit. It is a prasadam item in temples. Pulihora and perugu garelu are classic and popular combinations in Andhra Pradesh. Menthi majjiga goes very well with pulihora.


1. Fry 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds in a dry pan and grind them in a spice grinder. Mix in to pulihora at the end.

2. Aava pulihora, Grind 2 teaspoons red mustard seeds, ¼ teaspoon haldi, 2 teaspoons oil, and 1 tablespoon water in to smooth paste and mix it in to pulihora. Only one problem with this variety of pulihora is it may not stay fresh after two or three days.

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