Puliyodarai or Pulihorai is an Iyengar specialty. Its a tamarind-flavored rice made with peanuts and a basic tempering of spices. It's really very simple if one has the necessary paste on hand. Here's the way we make it at home.
1/4 kg Tamarind Pulp
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 dried red chillies + 20 for adding later
1 tsp turmeric
1 pinch asoefetida
4 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorn
Soak the tamarind pulp in a water (enough water to cover the pulp). Soak the mixture for 15 minutes. Drain the water and keep separately. Grind the pulp to a thick paste.
In a saucepan, heat some sesame oil. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds, 2 teaspoons of fenugreek, 2 dried red chillies. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the reserved water, pulp, turmeric and salt. Let it boil for a while until the raw smell of tamarind has disappeared. Add a pinch of asoefetida to the boiling liquid.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, dry roast the coriander seeds and peppercorn. Grind to a fine powder. In the same pan, roast 20 or so dried red chillies and grind to a fine powder.
When the above liquid begins to thicken, add the dry ground spices. Allow the mixture to thicken to a paste. Remove from heat and let cool. You can store this paste for up to a month in the refrigerator and for longer in the freezer.
The Tamarind Rice
1 cup Rice
2 tsp Urad Dal, roasted
2 tsp Channa Dal, roasted
2 tbsp Peanuts, skinned and roasted
1 tsp white Sesame Seeds, roasted and ground
Cook rice with a pinch of turmeric (use the measure 1 cup rice: 3 cups water).
When cooked, cool the rice and add salt and mix.
Add the roasted lentils and peanuts and mix well. Sprinkle with the roasted sesame seed powder.
Add one tbsp of the paste (for every one cup of cooked rice) and mix thoroughly.
This is obviously easier to make if the paste is available. Though the paste is available in most Indian grocery stores, the home made paste is well worth the effort.
Puliyodarai tastes great served with thick plain yogurt.
This is off to dear Sig for the JFI for July featuring Tamarind. JFI is an event featuring different special ingredients and was originally started by Indira of Mahanandi. I loved this month's theme because this age-old recipe is close to my heart and one that we've made in our house for generations.