South Indian Tamarind Rice
Its been ages since I made Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice, Puliyogare, Pulihora etc etc ) - in the authentic traditional way. Actually echoing my better half's smart pants comment 'In fact I don't remember having made it at all!' (#$#). Have to say, its not true - I do recall making this couple of years ago and then gave up cos for me it was hassle! Prepare the spiced tamarind paste and then mix it with rice and temper it with few more spices and blah and blah some more! Well, I don't call myself lazy without reason. For those who thought "What, its not that difficult?!!!" - well its not in the strictest sense. I will tell how.When you have a remarkable cook for a mother - it can be a boon as well as a sore point! She is so good that she measures through her instincts!
(Frantic phone call) - *ringggg...."
Me: "mom.....its meeeeeee!"
Mum: " Tell me sweetie..."
Me: " I am thinking of making this (traditional recipe)..give me measurements..."
Mum: "Oh thats easy - take bengal gram, take rice, take.... (6 more things), cook (this and that) this way, make sure that it cooks well and reddens nicely, grind that - the house should be filled with aroma at this point..and serve it(in some manner)
Me: (all excited) wow! sounds great - now give me the recipe, I will write it down.
Mum: "What were you doing all this while I was telling you the recipe???????????"
Me: (flabbergasted) but..but..you told me the directions - you did not give me the measurements!! How much of each should I use...
Mum: (hesitating)..aaah! Cant you figure it out while you are cooking??? mmm..Let me try - Take a handful of (3 ingredients), pinch of (2 more ingredients), you can eye ball (the remaining 3). I just put it while cooking! Who knows all these measurements..
Mum: "What happened? Are you still around?"
Me: "What in God's name am I supposed to say? How am I going to make this if you dont give me proper measurements?!!!!!! Its your duty as a mom to give me correct measurements!"
Mum: "And it was your duty as a daughter to learn cooking when I asked you zillion times to!!! Working was a convenient excuse then, now see this is what happens....."
Mum: ".............................."And this is how our conversation ends (or carries on if topic changes...;))
Only God knows how with all her "handful", "pinch", "dash" measurements, her dishes always turn out to be mindbogglingly delicious! My "pinch" and "dash" only results in making throwing away the dishes a "cinch" and getting me verbal "bash"es!
- For the Tamarind Paste (shelf life 1-2 months (could be more..)
- 200 grams (7 oz) - Tamarind (seedless variety makes life easier)
- 20-25 dried red chillies
- 50 grams (around 2 oz) Bengal gram (channa dal)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 cup sesame oil (not the toasted variety)
- salt to taste (using rock salt is traditional)
- For the Powder (shelf life -"ever?")
- 5 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 10-15 dried red chillies (optional)
- small sized Asafoetida (I eyeballed the powder)
- For the rice (at the time of preparation)
- 1 cup rice, cooked (make sure the strands are separate - Leftover rice works great)
- 1 tsp split black gram
- 1/4-1/2 cup peanuts
- 1/4-1/2 cup cashew
- few sprigs of curry leaves
- 2-3 dried red chillies (optional)
- 1-2 tsp sesame oil
- salt to taste
Until ground fine. Mix them together and store them in a plastic container. They keep well and are handy while making the rice. Use this powder carefully. Too much of it will give a bitter taste to the dish.
You can alternativly grind only little of these (seperately, of course) at the time of making the rice and add it towards the end since the aroma that this imparts to the dish is mind blowing. But take care, esp. with fenugreek seeds powder since it can give a bitter taste if added even a little bit in excess. I followed this method and grind it only as and when needed! I don't make this that often to require making a large amount or storage.
Now lets make the paste. Take a skillet and add the oil. Add the red chillies, then mustard seeds and then bengal gram.
I had some oil warming on the side hence added just a little to temper and then added the oil in the next step. It was simply for my own convinience and is not done this way. I am saying it since I wanted to explain the obvious lack of lots of oil in this picture :)
remove from heat, cool it well and store it in a glass container. Keeps very well for a loooong (!!) time and requires only a wee little bit (depending upon your taste) at a time to be mixed in the rice.
The more solid the Tamarind paste , lesser is the amount required to be mixed. If you make sure to keep the paste within the oil, then it would last longer. If your mixture is dry, then it naturally reduces its shelf life. Use it sooner in that case.To prepare the rice, in 1 tsp of oil, temper the lentils, along with red chillies and curry leaves (or you can use fresh without tempering in oil) and then add in the peanuts and cashew (you can roast them seperately too).
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