Thursday, April 24, 2014

Andhra Pulihora

This year, Tamil New Year’s Day came on a Monday.  On weekdays, I only cook at dinnertime.  I don’t have time in the mornings and since no one takes elaborate meals for lunch, it seems like a better idea to cook fresh food when everyone is ready to eat.  Anyway, I figured that there was no way I could come back after work and make an elaborate meal. So we decided to celebrate Tamil New Year’s Day one day early – on Sunday.

In Chennai, people typically make vepamboo (neem flower) rasam, mangai pacchidi with neem flower, some sambar, vegetable, kootu, payasam or some other sweet, and vadai.  Since I have no access to neem flower, and no consistent access to mangoes, I made ulundu vadai, Andhra style tamarind rice, lemon rasam, avial, vazhaikkai curry,  and rava kesari.

Andhra style tamarind rice

I know – it being Tamil New Year's Day and all, I should have made Tamilnadu-style puliodhare, but have been meaning to try my friend Anu’s mom’s pulihora recipe for a while now.  And this seemed like a good occasion.  It tasted so good when she made it for us.  We had this for lunch, snack, and dinner for two days in a row! 

The recipe asks for freshly powdered mustard seeds.  The day she made it for us, Anu had no mustard seeds left at home.  Her mom said - might as well not serve this now - or some thing to that effect - meaning that the dish is not complete without powdered mustard seeds.  We had to make a quick trip to the Indian store to get her the mustard seeds so that we could enjoy the pulihora.  These add so much flavor to the dish that my husband wanted to know if I used mustard oil to make it!


Here is what you need:

(with this quantity, I was able to make mix two cups of rice and have a little bit of the paste left over)

  • 2 cups basmati rice, cooked and cooled
  • ¼ cup tamarind
  • 3 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 4 red chilies, crushed
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp. channa dal
  • ½ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • few curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 3 Tbsp. mustard seeds

Here is how I made it:

  1. Soak the tamarind in about 2 cups of warm water and extract the juice.
  2. Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, channa dal, red chilies, and hing.
  3. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the curry leaves and peanuts.  Fry for a minute.
  4. Gently add the tamarind juice, turmeric powder, and some salt to taste.
  5. Bring this to a boil, reduce heat to a medium-low and cook for about 10 – 15 minutes till this whole thing becomes a slightly thick. Turn off the heat.  You can save this paste in the fridge and mix it with rice when you need it.
  6. While this is cooking, powder the mustard seeds in a spice grinder.  Set aside.
  7. Add the paste a little at a time to the rice and mix well.   When it tastes like it has enough flavor, add the powdered mustard a little at a time.  This has a very strong flavor, so keep tasting as you add this.  I probably used about half of the powdered mustard.

If you are making this for a party, make it ahead of time.  It tastes much better when the rice has had a chance to absorb all the flavors.  

With this quantity of paste, you can make about 2 – 3 cups of rice.

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