Iyengar Pulikachal Recipe |  OPOS Pulikachal Recipe | Pulikachal Mix recipe
I hail from an Indian community that is famous for its Puliyodharai - a verity rice that is flavored with a spiced tamarind paste.  Also known as Puli sadham, Pulihora and puliogare , this South Indian classic has a huge following and is pretty straightforward to make. Its quick to put together as long as you have the pulikaachal (seasoned tamarind paste) ready in your pantry. Then it is all about making rice and mixing the paste whenever you please, even at a very short notice. Given that I have this background, I have had many acquaintance make the assumption that I have this paste ready to go and are quite taken aback when I don't!
Iyengar Pulikachal Recipe |  OPOS Pulikachal Recipe | Pulikachal Mix recipe
No, its not that I don't like Puliyodharai. In fact, my husband loves the classic and has at many times insisted on making a big batch of pulikachal at hand. He always packaged it under "Oh it will be so easy for you during busy days" - of course :) And I gave in and started buying the store bought paste ;) He was not pleased - to be honest, but did not say anything 'cos he understood my reluctance to make that tedious paste that took hours and energy. Frankly, I always could find better things to do in that time.  But when one has a kid, perspective  change and I found myself slogging to make this paste occasionally just to be able to introduce and familiarize my little one of our traditional foods. Did you notice how I still use the verb slog in association?
Iyengar Pulikachal Recipe |  OPOS Pulikachal Recipe | Pulikachal Mix recipe
But enter OPOS and now I have the best of both the worlds! Making pulikachal is now a child's play. There are many recipes that you can convert to OPOS and make your life simpler. But recipes like Puliyodharai are what makes OPOS empowering to me. We all would love to hold on to our traditional values, customs and beliefs for the comfort that it provides. But it is imperative to understand that the environment and life has drastically changed from those ancient days and we have to adapt. Instead of letting go of traditions completely, I believe in using means that make it easier for me to embrace our culture with current norms. In cooking, I feel that OPOS is that tool that has hugely enabled me to continue cooking our classic dishes without the expected expenditure of time and energy.
  • Cook time:
  • Prep time:
  • Yields: Makes around 3 cups of pulikachal (spiced tamarind paste)
For the Spiced Lentil Powder
  • 1/4 cup Urad Dal (black split lentils)
  • 1/4 cup Channa Dal (Bengal gram/ split chickpeas)
  • 1/4 cup Daniya (Coriander seeds)
  • 1/2 cup Dried Red Chillies
Spice Blend
  • 1/4 cup Til (Black Sesame seeds) - see Tips
  • 1 tbsp Methi (fenugreek seeds)
For Tamarind Base
  • 1/2 cup Sesame oil
  • 1 cup OPOS Tamarind Paste or use regular Tamarind - see Tips
  • 1/4 cup OPOS Lentil Tadka
  • 2 tbsp powdered Jaggery
  • 2 tbsp Himalayan Pink Salt (or to taste)
  • 1/3 cup Curry Leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoetida
  • 1/4 cup roasted Peanuts
1.Tamarind:: Using darker or lighter tamarind will dictate the color of the pulikachal. I have used the darker one for my tamarind paste. Likewise, the age of the tamarind decides the tanginess of the tamarind. Hence the taste will differ. If the end result tastes too tangy/sour - increase the toast some red chilli flakes and add it to the mix. If not tangy enough, simply increase the amount of paste you use to mix it with the rice.
1. Please follow the recipe steps EXACTLY as stated for the first few times.  Standardize your pressure cooker before starting the recipe if you have not done so earlier. This is done to ensure that the timings work the same way as it works for OPOS recipes.  Lets start with dry roasting the urad, channa, coriander seeds and red chilli until the color changes a little and the aroma hits. Set aside to cool.
2. Dry roast the sesame seeds. I use black sesame (for additional nutrition), but you can use white sesame seeds. Keep a close watch since it tends to burn fast. Set aside.
3. Repeat for fenugreek seeds. Set aside.
4. Now powder sesame seeds and fenugreek seeds separately. Also blend the lentils mix together and set aside.
5. To a bowl, add curry leaves, turmeric, asafoetida, salt, jaggery, and 1/2 cup of the lentil spice powder.
6. The remaining lentil  powder I store in a zip lock inside my freezer for later usage.  I already had half from my previous batch. But since I made fresh one for the purpose of this post, I now have enough for 2 more rounds of pulikachal. Yay!
7. Add 2 cups of water to the bowl with the spice mix
8. along with roasted peanuts.  You can add more or substitute it with cashews if you like.
9. In a 2L pc, add the sesame oil
10. followed by thick  tamarind paste.  If you do not have the paste, you can use equivalent amount of seedless tamarind ( fibers removed).
11. Next add the spice mix and mix to combine.
12. Cook on HIGH heat for 3 whistles (around 6-8 minutes). Make sure the flame is covering the entire base of the pressure cooker but does NOT come up the sides. That causes burning of the handles.
13. You should notice the pressure valve popping in about 5 minutes.
14. The whistles follow soon after. If you do not notice any whistle even after 7-8 minutes, you might have steam seeping out the sides. It is essential to stay close by to prevent any burning of the spice mix. Switch off the pressure cooker in that case and/or if you start getting a burning smell. Once pressure settles go through the next steps.
15. Let pressure settle.
16. Upon opening, add 1/4 cup of sesame powder and 1 tbsp fenugreek powder.
17. Add 1/4 cup of OPOS Lentil Tadka or more if you prefer.
18. Now stir everything together. You should get a thick paste/sauce. It also thickens a bit upon cooling. My previous batch was little more watery since my tamarind paste was not thick enough. To thicken it, you can add a couple of tablespoon of the lentil spice mix. Or you can follow this wonderful suggestion by a fellow OPOSer SivaShakthi Asuri Amarnath  - where she said adding roasted bengal gram powder (channa dal) works great as well. It did.  If your paste is too thick, you can dilute it by adding either additional sesame oil or hot boiling water.
Once cooled, store in an air tight container in the fridge. It keeps well for months! Make sure there is enough oil on the surface. If there is not enough, you can also add couple of tablespoons of hot sesame oil (use chekku ennai - cold pressed oil) for a superlative flavor. Only use dried fresh spoon every time you use the paste to avoid spoilage.
Iyengar Pulikachal Recipe |  OPOS Pulikachal Recipe | Pulikachal Mix recipe

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By Shweta on Jan 12, 2023

I have tried many recipes from your site and they have turned out well. I did this today, used standardized equipment and followed the measurements, only change was I used induction , faced the same issue, did not get whistle even after 8 minutes, so switched off. There was charring at the bottom. Could you please clarify did you use the 2litre magic pot? thank you for the detailed recipe, appreciate how thorough the recipe steps are.

By Sharadha on Nov 5, 2019

Followed the exact recipe. Burnt even before the first whistle. I used regular tamarind pulp instead of opos tamarind extract. Transferred the whole thing to kadai and managed to make do something with it. Also I felt the spice powder and salt levels were far too less for 1 cup tamarind

By Ram Prakash on Dec 8, 2018

I just followed exactly the same measurements. But even before the first whistle it burnt

What about the other procedures? The time taken, the PC used, did you use a standardized PC etc? Please elaborate on those so that I can better answer the possible issue. --DK

By Bama on Aug 3, 2018

Thanks for the recipe! When I tried it, the cooker bottom burnt badly. Even before a single whistle came. Any idea what could have gone wrong? Used tamarind paste as per your recipe.

I am surprised to hear this Bama! How long was this process? Since this whole recipe takes less than 8 minutes, I am surprised at what caused the burning. I mention the "time" in step 12, 13 and 14. Was it the same for you? --DK