January 6, 2011

Puliyogare / Tamarind rice


Puliyogare – is a South Indian rice dish made with tangy tamarinds. It is a specialty of the Iyengar community. 
Kamala aunt (my mom's eldest sister) is our family's puliyogare expert. This and Mango rice are her signature dishes. She is nitpicky to details, and is one of the biggest clean freaks I have known. We cousins are a huge lot, like a flock of sheep. My mom has 5 sisters and brothers, each of them have 3 kids on average, so you can imagine our cousin network!   During school summer break, aunty would make it a rule for us to spend a month with her.  We did not enjoy it then, but thank her now. It was boot camp for us. I wonder how so many of us cousins stayed in her house and still stayed disciplined. She would make us do endless chores, from morning to night, and it had to be done well. Sweep and swab the floors, dust the windows, water the plants, grind the endless chutneys and masala with the manual stone mortar, peel onions and garlic, rinse  the greens a hundred times until all the sand grains sifted away, wash the bathrooms, and polish the taps like there was no tomorrow. The days she would leave us with a list of things to do, and head to her ashram, were the best times! We would sneak up and grind all the masala in the electric blender, and turn on the TV, and chit chat, it was our secret haven! We enjoyed every moment of it! We would have chores all day, and had to chant bhajans with her at the Ashram in the evenings. There is not one thing I would change, ever, it was our childhood well spent. I just loved it. Thank you aunt!
Back to the recipe!

What I used: Makes about 20 servings
5 Tbsp thick tamarind paste (black tamarind, not brown)
2 Tbsp dry coconut/desiccated coconut
2 Tbsp jaggery or 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
2Tbsp curry powder
12-14 whole red chillies
12-14 black pepper seeds
2 tsp cumin/jeera
1 tsp methi /fenugreek seeds (optional)
2 Tbsp kadale bele/split chick peas
2 Tbsp yellu/sesame seeds
2 tsp sesame seeds
1tsp turmeric
3 Tbsp oil
Salt to taste-about 3 tsp or more
½ tsp hing
1 tsp mustard seeds

For tempering: Oil, 6-8 whole red chilies, 2-3 sticks of curry leaves, 4 tsp peanuts, 2 tsp urad dal/split blackgram, 6-8 cashews

There are two ways to doing this, You may roast, and dry grind it to a powder, then add teh tamarind paste. I usually put it all into one and blender it to a paste. either ways tastes just as good. 

Dry roast the red chillies, pepper seeds, yellu and kadale bele.  Cool, add it into a blender. Put in the tamarind paste, cumin, turmeric and curry powder. Grind it to a thick paste with enough water. This will take a while. Be patient, or you may have to replace your blender.  

In a large saucepan, add oil and 2 tsp of sesame seeds. Toss half the curry leaves, mustard seeds and cover; when the splattering subsides, add the blended paste, cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring well. Add the jaggery and salt. Cover and cook, until the paste gets thick. Add the coconut, stir it in and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off and let cool.  

In a small sauce pan, add 1 tsp oil, when it shimmers, add the peanuts, and cashews, roast on medium to a golden brown, then add the urad dal, curry leaves and red chilies. When they all roast to a crunchy texture, turn off the heat and set aside. 

Do not mix this tempering to the puliyogare paste together. Add a tsp of paste, and a tsp of oil to 2 cups of cooled cooked rice. This will serve 2-3.
Once blended, taste it, to check it to see if it needs more tang, salt or sugar. Before serving, add the roasted peanut tempering.  Refrigerate the rest in an airtight container for up to a month.  Enjoy!