Chintapandu pulihora is a tangy, flavored rice, a staple preparation during festivals, special occasions and even on regular days. This vegan, gluten free flavored rice is great as a side dish, main dish or to pack in lunch boxes and for picnics. It is also a good when cooking for one or on lazy days.
Pulihora is a traditional South Indian tangy rice. It is a prepared with lime juice, tamarind or mango which give the rice a tangy flavor. Tamarind (chintapandu) pulihora and lime (nimmakaya) pulihora are the most common preparations while mango (mamidikaya) pulihora is seasonal. Cranberry pulihora, carrot lime pulihora and gongura pulihora are the unconventional varieties.
In Telugu cuisine there are many variations of pulihora. However, in Tamil cuisine and assuming even in Kannadiga cuisine, only tamarind rice is pulihora which is known as puliyodharai and puliyogare respectively.
Though the basic preparation is similar in all the states, spices and some ingredients vary from state to state and household to household. My recipe uses few ingredients and I like it this way.
Key ingredient in tamarind rice preparation is pulihora pulusu (tamarind rice paste). It is concentrated tamarind extract seasoned with chilies, salt, fenugreek powder along with few additional spices. Concentrated paste is mixed with cooked rice and then the a tempering. It is simple, yet a comforting soul food. With pulihora pulusu on hand, tamarind rice is an easy peasy preparation.
Don’t have puliyogare paste handy? Not a problem at all, unless you are preparing a big batch of rice. When cooking for one or two people, you can make the paste instantly along with the tempering. Add concentrate tamarind extract or tamarind juice to temping along with all the spice and cook until the extract thickens. And an instant paste is ready.
- Rice – I use basmati rice but use sona masoori or any rice that you have on hand. This is a good recipe to use up leftover rice. However, avoid leftover rice for festivals and when preparing as an offering to god.
- Pulihora Paste – Prepare the paste ahead and store in the refrigerator. It stays good for months and a good condiment to have handy. When cooking in small quantity, you can prepare it the same day when doing the tempering. In the recipe card, follow Tempering + Instant Pulusu instructions.
- Peanuts – makes it a balanced and healthy main dish. When making instant pulusu, add a few extra peanuts as the pulusu doesn’t have chana dal unlike my pulihora pulusu recipe.
- Tempering – this is a basic tempering with mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chilies, peanuts and turmeric. Skip this step if pulihora paste has enough oil in it.
Time consuming preparation is pulusu or gojju. Prepare gojju ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Cook rice, cool it, mix it with some oil, turmeric, tamarind paste and tempering. If you do not have gojju on hand, cook tamarind extract in tempering until it thickens and then mix it with rice.
Serve chintapandu pulihora with yogurt is one of my favorite combinations though it tastes good with any curry. One of my favorite pulihora combination curries is tomato shorva with or without potato. Other veg curries that pair well are potato kurma, cauliflower shorva and sorakaya shorva.
On non religious days, you can even serve with chicken shorva, mutton shorva or chicken curry. For on long road trips, train journeys and picnics, pack some potato fry on the side. This is a mess free side dish which is easy to pack as well. Carry some yogurt or perhaps some daddojanam ~ curd rice for a satiating meal.
Festivals and Prasadam
Chintapandu pulihora is one of the most common dishes prepared for most of the South Indian festivals. It is also a common prasadam, offering to god at temples. Temple version of the rice is more flavorful and tastes amazing! Tamarind pulihora is one of the must preparations for saddula bathukamma along with other varieties of rice dishes and sweets.
- Do not over cook rice. Keep it grainy for a nice grainy texture. For 1 cup of rice, use 1 ½ – 2 cups of rice, depending on the age of the rice. Older the rice, more rice you would need. Here in the US, I usually do 1 ¾ – 2 cups of water.
- Tanginess of tamarind varies from tree to tree and since we do not which tree the commercial tamarind comes from, quantity tamarind gojju in a recipe will vary. Adjust it to your taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
You can use basmati rice, sona masoori or any medium to long grain rice. Regardless of which rice you use, cooked rice should be grainy. Do not over cook it.
Yes you can but I am not a big fan of commercial concentrated tamarind paste. The taste is not the same. But, yes you can use it.
Other Flavored Rice Recipes
Detailed, Printable Recipe
- Rice cooker
- Wide Bowl
- Skillet & Spoon
- ½ cup uncooked Basmati Rice I used measuring cup that comes with the rice cooker
- 1 cup Water
- ¼ teaspoon Salt adjust to taste. Tamarind paste had some salt, hence used less
- 2 teaspoon Oil
- ⅛ teaspoon Mustard Seeds
- 1 Dry Red Chili
- 2 Curry Leaves
- 1 small Green Chili slit into 2
- 1 ½ tablespoon Peanuts Use 2 tablespoon for instant pulusu
- ¼ teaspoon Fenugreek Powder
- Pinch of Turmeric
- 1 ½ tablespoon Home-made Tamarind Paste/Concentrate or Pulihora Pulusu *check notes and adjust to taste
- 1 – 2 tablespoon Water opt
- Wash rice and cook with 1 cup of water. Once done, spread it in a plate or in a wide bowl to cool. Leftover rice also works great here.
- Add some salt, pinch of turmeric, mix and keep it aside. If using pulihora pulusu/gojju, mix it to rice.
Tempering when using Pulihora Pulusu
- Heat oil in a pan for tempering.
- When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and let the seeds crackle.
- Throw in peanuts, green chili and let peanuts roast.
- Add fenugreek powder (opt since pulusu already has it), turmeric and give a good stir.
- Pour over rice and mix it well.
Tempering + Instant Pulusu
- Follow above instructions from 1-4. Add one dry red chili along with curry leaves in step 2 and fenugreek powder along with turmeric in step 4.
- Add tamarind paste/concentrate, 1 – 2 tablespoon of water and mix well. If you do not have tamarind paste, soak tamarind, extract juice and use it.
- Reduce the flame and continue stirring until water is evaporated and tempering blends into tamarind paste. Keep an eye on the tempering as this will take only a few minutes. If using tamarind juice, simmering time will be longer.
- Pour it over rice and toss.
- Taste the rice and adjust salt to taste. If the rice is tangy, add some sesame seeds powder to reduce the tanginess.
- Serve pulihora with tomato shorva or with some yogurt. Pulihora and yogurt is my favorite combo.
- Tamarind – Homemade concentrated tamarind paste is simmered tamarind juice. Pulihora pulusu is seasoned concentrated tamarind paste which is prepared by simmering tamarind extract with fenugreek powder, curry leaves, dry chilies and chana dal. If you do not have either of these, soak some tamarind, extract juice and use it. You need to simmer this juice for more than just a few minutes.
- Peanuts – Use more peanuts when preparing tamarind rice with homemade tamarind paste or freshly squeezed tamarind juice.
- Chana Dal – You can soak chana dal and add to tempering. I usually avoid it and prefer peanuts instead. However, I do add chana dal to pulihora pulusu, hence use less peanuts in tempering when using pulusu.
- Rice – Use basmati, sona masoori or any rice of your choice. But keep the rice grainy. Do not over cook rice. This recipe is a good way to use up leftover rice.
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