Tamarind rice (Puliyogare)

Are there any South Indian unmarried girls/guys in the world who never tried puliyogare? If there is one, I haven’t met them yet. The MTR puliyogare mix must be one of their most popular powders. It is not as much popular among Indians as much as it is among Indians who travel abroad due to job requirements or studies. This powder comes as a “life saver” to most. Confused?? Let me explain.

Normally when someone is sent to a foreign country from India on a job, most of the time it is for 3-6months, the first thing they do is, go for a big shopping spree. Since there are restrictions for carrying home made goodies, almost everyone picks up these instant powders, so that they can survive in an unknown country for at least few days. Usually one of the staples being either puliyogare powder or paste. It all started from there and after a while, everyone gets adjusted to this quick fix meal. Mainly this helps in preparing lunches. Since this is one of the simplest quick-fix-meals which does not require any sides or raw materials, everyone goes for this. When they reach the foreign place, just cook some rice either in microwave or on stove top and add this powder/paste and eat. Some go to the trouble of actually heating oil and frying the powder but not all.

Both V and I have lived like that for a long time. Basically it was before our wedding. Whenever we were sent on assignments to US or Australia, we would pack this and rice. At least in my case, I would try to make something more than this and I won’t get bored of it, but not him. So it was banned from my home for a long time.

But this rice IS very tasty. So time to time, I would sneak in a pack of MTR puliyogare powder and prepare it when he was not around. I gave him 3 years to wear off the effects of puliyogare that he had consumed. Somehow I always wanted to create it on my own. Did I say I have this compulsion to create all the powders at home? if I use store-bought powder, I feel its like buying ready-made food. So at some point, I attempt making them at home. Since last few months I have started cooking this from scratch at home.

The powder can be made in advance and stored for a very long time. I would say 1-2 months is a decent time as after that, the aroma diminishes. Even the paste can be saved for a week or two when refrigerated. Make powder and save, puliyogare gets ready in 15mins. Make paste and save, puliyogare gets ready in 5mins. I have made a big batch of powder and it is being used for last few days :).

Ohh.., forgot to explain what a puliyogare is – puli is sour and ogara - something used on top (of rice). Call it puliyogare, puliyodarai, tamarind rice or whatever, its one tasty and no-brainer item :).

Puliyogare powder:
2 tbl spn dry coconut
1 tbl spn chana dal
7-8 curry leaves
5-6 red chilies
1 tbl spn peanuts
1/2 tbl spn coriander seeds
1 tbl spn sesame seeds
1/2 tea spn mustard seeds

Dry roast all the ingredients till a nice aroma comes out. Grind to a powder.

Puliyogare paste:
1 tbl spn thick tamarind extract or thick juice extracted from 1/2 cup tamarind
1/2 tea spn chili powder
1 tea spn jaggery
1/2 tea spn chana dal
1/2 tea spn mustard seeds
1 tbl spn peanuts
4-5 curry leaves
1 tea spn puliyogare powder

Heat oil and add peanuts, chana dal, mustard seeds. When they are fried, add curry leaves.
Add the tamarind extract and 1/2 cup water. Cook on a low flame till it becomes slightly thick.
Add jaggery and cook till it completely melts.
Add chili powder, puliyogare powder, salt. Keep mixing till the paste thickens.
Store in air tight container.

Heat a little oil and put the paste. Fry for a min till a nice aroma comes out. Now add the cooked rice, salt and mix well. (If the paste is done fresh, just add the rice to the same pan when the paste is ready). The ratio of rice to paste depends on individual taste.

Instead of rice, this can even be made with cooked rice noodles.

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