This recipe has been in my mind since long to be posted here. But, I was looking for some really authentic serveware to hold the Puliyodharai. The ceramic, glass or wooden bowls that I have are fancy, but did not look any good for such a traditional South Indian food. My brother’s family visited me a few weeks ago and they brought these traditional ‘dhonnai’s ‘ from India for me too use for my food photography. I fell instantly in love with these perfect little bowls and was waiting to put them to use and here we go.
Dhonnai’s are disposable bowls made of big leaves. Dried lotus leaves, fresh banana leaves etc. are most commonly used to make these. Wait a minute! Wasn’t I was supposed to be writing about Puliyodharai and I have been talking about these Dhonnai’s so much? Well, you’ll now know how obsessed I am with these cute little bowls.
This recipe is 100% my mom’s. I have not made even a wee bit of a change to it. I have never eaten a better Pulikachal or Puliyodharai than her’s. ‘Puli’ is tamarind in my native language, Tamil. Pulikachal is a thick spicy sauce made with tamarind and spices. My whole family is a big fan of my mother’s Pulikachal that we can have it with anything (Idly, Dosa, Yogurt Rice etc.). It can be treated like a pickle as well because it is quite spicy, tangy and salty.
Pulikachal when mixed with cooked white rice becomes Puliyodharai. You’ll need nothing more than pappads to eat Puliyodharai with. I’m so drooling as I’m writing this, seriously!
1 lemon size tamarind
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon urad dhal
1 teaspoon chana dhal
1 teaspoon jaggery (grated)
1 tablespoon cashew nuts
1 tablespoon peanuts
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida)
2 sprigs curry leaves
8 dried red chili
For the masala
10 dry red chili
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
2 teaspoon urad dhal
1 teaspoon oil
Soak tamarind in one cup warm water and set it aside.
Prepare the masala first. Heat oil in a pan, add sesame seeds and allow them to splutter. Now add fenugreek seeds and fry them until they start to change color slightly. Now add urad dhal, chana dhal and the red chili. I used long red chilies this time. You can use the rounded ones too and the measurement is just about the same.
Continue to roast until the dhals and fenugreek seeds have turned golden brown. Turn off heat, cool and dry grind it in a mixer. The powder will be somewhat coarse and that is alright. You can add some salt to this coarse powder and grind it again. This will help the powder to get a little finer. Have in mind the amount of salt you are using here. You can safely add about a teaspoon of salt now and work your way up as you go by.
Set the masala aside.
To make Pulikachal
Extract pulp from the tamarind by squeezing it in the warm water that it is soaking in. Try not to add more water as it is required to have a fairly thick pulp. Pulp if watery takes a long time to cook to get to the desired consistency of the Pulikachal.
Heat oil in a pan or wok. Add mustard seeds and let them splutter. When they are almost done lower the heat, add urad and chana dhal and fry them for little less than a minute. Now, add peanuts and fry them for about a minute and then add the cashew nuts until the nuts and dhals turn nice and golden brown. The dhals and nuts take different times to get roasted and that is why it is good to add them one after the other as mentioned above instead of putting them all at once. Now add the curry leaves.
To this, add the tamarind pulp, turmeric powder, hing, salt and jaggery and cook until all ingredients combine together, about 6-8 minutes. You may to want to do a taste test to check the amount of salt you’ll need to add. Now add the ground masala, mix well and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
Turn off heat, let it cool and store it in an air tight container. This can be used for upto one week even without refrigerating. When refrigerated it can last upto a month.
To make Puliyodharai
Take the desired amount cooked rice in a wide mixing bowl. Make sure that the rice is nice and grainy and not mushy. Add and mix the Pulikachal little by little until you arrive at the desired taste and color of the rice. You’ll need about 2/3 cup of Pulikachal for 2 cups of rice (uncooked). Again, this depends on how spicy you’d like the rice to be.
Mix gently and do not let the rice to be mashed at any point in time.
Serve warm with pappad.