Pulihora paste is a spiced, concentrated tamarind extract and is the key ingredient in chintapandu pulihora or tamarind rice preparation. It is a handy condiment to have in the refrigerator. Instant Pot pulihora paste is a dump and cook recipe.
Pulihora is a tangy rice prepared with tamarind, lime, green mango or any tangy ingredient. Pulupu means sour or tangy in Telugu, one of many Indian dialects. The most common preparation of pulihora is with tamarind followed by lime and raw green mango, when raw mangoes are in season.
As the name suggests, chintapandu pulihora / puliyodharai / puliyogare / tamarind rice is prepared with tamarind and the key ingredient is pulihora pulusu or tamarind sauce. Mix this paste with rice, then pour a tempering over it and mix well. It is a delicious preparation and a comfort food.
Pulihora pulusu is a thick, concentrated, spicy, flavorful tamarind extract. It is prepared by boiling tamarind water with spices until it forms a thick paste. Store it in a glass container and use as required. It has a shelf life of at least 3-4 weeks and stays fresh for months in the refrigerator.
Tamarind rice is a common preparation during South Indian festivals. While lime pulihora and mango pulihora do not require much prepping but chintapandu pulihora does. Time consuming prep work is preparation of the paste.
Though it is an easy preparation, it does require a decent amount of time to simmer the pulusu. Hence it is a good idea to prepare the pulusu ahead of time, especially with the upcoming festive season.
You can prepare pulusu on the stovetop in a saucepan, in a pressure cooker or in an electric pressure cooker. I find the pressure cooker method the best as it does not require monitoring the sauce while it simmers, does not create a big mess and also requires very little cleaning up afterwards.
The messy part of the preparation is the spillage of the sauce in the final stages of simmering. This is one reason I prefer the pressure cooking method and Instant Pot pulihora paste recipe is my go to recipe.
The key ingredient is, obviously tamarind and depending on the region, the spices vary. My version of the pulusu requires very few basic ingredients and I like it this way. Regardless of the spices used, the method is almost similar all across South India. Add more spices and spice mixes to suit your palate. Sesame seed powder is one such addition.
- Tamarind – use a good quality tamarind and please do not use store bought tamarind concentrate for shortcuts.
- Curry Leaves
- Red Chilies
- Fenugreek Powder
- Chana Dal – I prepare adding chana dal to pulihora paste than in the tempering.
- Peanuts – optional and prefer adding peanuts to tempering when preparing tamarind rice.
Soak tamarind in water for at least an hour and extract a thick juice. Longer you soak, easier it is to extract the pulp. Take the pulp and rest of the ingredients in a pot and cook until the mixture is thick.
- Pressure cooker – Preparing this pulusu in a pressure cooker is mess free and requires minimal monitoring. I prepare it in an Instant Pot but can do the same in a pressure cook as well, on a stovetop.
- Saucepan – This is the traditional way of preparing. Dump tamarind water/pulp and rest of the ingredients in the pan, bring it to a boil and continue to boil until the mixture reduces in quantity. As the pulusu thickens, it will splutter. Reduce the heat, continue to cook stirring in between until most of the moisture evaporates.
Store the pulusu in a dry glass container. It stays good for at least 3-4 weeks at room temperature and for months in the refrigerator. Always use a dry spoons for a long life.
Mix 2-3 tablespoon of the paste with cooked rice (1 rice cooker measuring cup of uncooked rice, cooked), prepare a tempering, pour over rice, mix well and serve.
When I am out of homemade tamarind paste and forget to soak tamarind for chutney or pulusu, I substitute tamarind with pulihora pulusu. Since I use very minimal ingredients to prepare this paste and since all the above mentioned ingredients are used in chutney and pulusu preparation, one wouldn’t even notice the difference.
- Use good quality tamarind and do not use commercial concentrated tamarind extract. You can make instant pulihora with concentrated tamarind extract, if needed. Hence avoid tamarind concentrate for this preparation.
- Store it in a glass or non metallic container.
- Use dry utensils and do not introduce any external moisture to pulihora paste for a longer shelf and refrigerator life.
- You can make tamarind rice tempering and mix it with this paste. When preparing the rice, all you need to is cook rice, mix the paste and pulihora is ready. This eliminates the step of tempering. This is a great for college students, young adults staying away from home and when on long road trips. All one needs to do is cook rice and mix this paste. A delicious meal is ready.
Instant Pot Pulihora Paste Recipe
Pulihora Pulusu ~ Pulihora Paste
- 3 qt Instant Pot or any Electric Pressure Cooker
- 2 Bowls
- Glass jar or container
- 125 grams Tamarind
- Water to extract thick pulp from tamarind
- 3 tablespoon Chana Dal washed
- 1 teaspoon Fenugreek Powder
- 2 tablespoon Salt can add more
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 5 medium sized Dry Red Chilies
- ¼ cup or 4 tablespoon Oil
- 20 Curry Leaves
- 2 cups Water, more if needed
- Wash and soak tamarind in about a cup of water or enough to immerse tamarind in water. Soaking in warm or hot water helps.
- Soak for at least one hour. The longer you soak, easier it is to extract the pulp.
- With a clean hand, press and squeeze soaked tamarind to extract the pulp.
- Transfer tamarind extract to a separate bowl, pour some water to tamarind and extract more pulp.
- Transfer the extract to the bowl and repeat the process, if you feel you could extract more pulp from tamarind. Try to keep the extract as thick as possible. I used about 1 – 1½ cups of water.
- Transfer tamarind extract/juice to inner pot of the Instant Pot (IP).
- Add remaining ingredients, close the IP lid, make sure the vent is sealed.
- Cook on Manual / Pressure Cook mode for 11 minutes. Make sure the pressure is on high.
- It will take about 10 – 13 minutes for the pressure to build up, depending on the quantity of liquid in the pot. Then it cooks for 11 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally. This should take about 15 – 20 minutes and then pressure pin will drop indicating natural pressure release.
- Press cancel, open the lid, press saute and cook for another 10-15 minutes until pulihora paste consistency is reached. Keep stirring in between and in the last 4-5 minutes, there is going to be a lot of splutter and spillage. You may want to semi cover the pot with a lid.
- The other option is to adjust the IP setting to low but this will take longer to thicken the paste.
- If making the paste on stovetop, take tamarind pulp and rest of the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil and let it boil until extract thickens. As the mixture thickens, it will splutter, hence reduce the flame, keep stirring intermittently until it thickens to desired consistency.
- IP Settings – Cook for 11 minutes if using chana dal. When not using chana dal, I pressure cook either 6 or 8 minutes.
- Water – Try to use minimal water to extract tamarind pulp. Thicker the tamarind water, sooner the paste thickens. I use 1 cup to soak water and little over 1 cup to extract the pulp. Also, soaking tamarind in warm or hot water helps to in extracting a thick pulp.
- Other Ingredients – Peanuts and roasted sesame seed powder are a good addition to pulihora pulusu but I personally prefer adding peanuts when tempering pulihora. Roasted sesame seed powder is a good addition but I normally don’t use it. It is just my personal preference.
- Servings – Depending on how tangy the tamarind is, you will need about 3 tablespoon of the paste for 1 cup rice cooker measuring cup uncooked rice. This recipe yields 16 oz jar of pulihora paste and 10 – 12 servings. Each serving is little less than 3 tablespoon
- Suggestion – Prepare tamarind rice tempering, mix it with this paste. This eliminates the step of tempering when preparing pulihora. This is a great for college students, young adults staying away from home and when on long road trips. All one needs to do is cook rice and mix this paste. A delicious meal is ready.
- Nutrition – Nutritional information below is approximate.
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