RICE is a staple food in South Indian cooking. It is usually simply boiled as it is eaten with curries that are often heavily spiced.
There are also rice dishes made specially for celebrations. “Sour rice” – known as puliyodharai, puliyogare or pulihora depending on the region – is one such dish. The flavours in this dish are typical of South Indian cuisine – sour, peppery, salty and a little sweet.
Unlike a pilaf or a briyani for example, where all the ingredients are cooked together as a one-pot dish, tamarind rice is more like a salad – cooked rice is flavoured with a spice powder and tossed with the tangy “dressing”. It may take time and a little extra effort, but it’s a good alternative to plain rice.
It’s certainly a great dish to have for Deepavali.
Jan F. Ragavan writes for the Don’t Call Me Chef column in Star2.
- 1½cups long-grain rice (preferably Basmathi)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tbsp channa dal (soaked for 30 minutes, split bengal gram)
- 1 tbsp urad dal （soaked for 30 minutes, split black gram）
- 2-3 dried red chillies
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp asafoetida
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tbsp seedless tamarind paste
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 tbsp palm sugar
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts
- salt to taste
- Powdered spice mix (podi)
- 1 tbsp chana dhal
- 1/2 tbsp urad dhal
- 1 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds
- 1 large sprig curry leaves
- 1 tbsp black peppercorns
- 4-5 dried red chillies
- Cook the rice with a teaspoon of salt. Fluff to separate the grains and place in a mixing bowl.
- First, make the powdered spice mix: Dry roast all the ingredients in a heavy pan until fragrant. Cool and grind into a powder.
- For tempering, heat two tablespoon of oil in a pan and add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the drained channa and urad dals and fry until light brown. Add the dried chillies, curry leaves, asafoetida and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.
- Add the tamarind paste, water and palm sugar and cook on low heat, stirring constantly, until the oil separates and the dals are tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Add ¾ of the tamarind sauce to the rice and toss to combine. Add salt to taste. Stir in 3-4 tablespoons of the powdered mix and the roasted peanuts. Add more of the tamarind sauce if desired.