PULIHORA – इमली के चावल (Tamarind Rice)

The south Indian repertoire has a wonderful collection of recipes using left over rice. The rice dishes are absolutely delicious and each one has a unique flavour profile. Their meals primarily use rice. There are different kinds of ‘pancakes’ and ‘crepes’ using rice such as uttapam and a variety of dosa and there is appam. Besides these, the steamed cakes called idli are one of the most popular meal not just in south of Indian but across the country. It is a filling (without making you feel stuffed) and comforting breakfast meal that can also be enjoyed for a snack with a variety of chutneys and a lentil preparation called sambar which also has the goodness of veggies. It is kind of a well rounded and ‘complete’ meal that is considered to be one of the healthiest meals.

Coming to today’s post, this one is somewhat different from the earlier two posts on left over rice that I had shared a few years back. One of them was the Lemon Rice recipe which can be enjoyed on its own or with a fish or prawn curry and the other was Curd Rice (made using yogurt/ dahi) which is served with chutney or pickle, papad or with a side dish for a complete meal while Tomato Rice is usually served with papad and a side dish. The lemon rice and curd rice are really simple to prepare and use lesser amount of spices. While tomato rice and tamarind rice are richer in flavour since they the number of spices they use is higher. Compared to tamarind rice, tomato rice is still simpler. Tamarind rice preparation uses an aromatic spice mix powder which gives it a deeper complex flavour that provides this rice dish a moreish character. In case you make a batch of the spice mix for the tamarind rice before hand, then making the tamarind rice gets easier and faster. The dish is known by few other names – puliyodharayi or puliyodharai and puliyogare. Ensure that your pantry is well stocked with spices before you move ahead with this recipe. The variety of spices that go into this recipe do appear overwhelming but believe me, (and I always say that) it is a really easy and simple to make 😊


2 tsp Chana Dal (Skinless Split Black Chickpeas)

2 tsp Dhuli Urad Dal (Ivory Lentils)

2 tsp Sabut Dhaniya (Coriander Seeds)

½ tsp Sabut Kali Mirch (Black Peppercorns)

¼ tsp Methi Dana (Fenugreek Seeds)

1½ tbsp Safed Til (Sesame Seeds)

2 tsp Kashmiri Lal Mirch Powder (degi mirch)

½ – 1 tsp Red Chili Powder (depending on how much heat you like)

2½ tbsp grated Coconut (optional)


2 tbsp Sesame Oil

1 tsp Kali Sarson (Mustard Seeds)

2 tbsp Moong Phali (Peanuts)

10 Kaju (Cashews)

½ tsp Chana Dal (Skinless Split Black Chickpeas)

½ tsp Dhuli Urad Dal (Ivory Lentils)

¼ tsp Haldi (Turmeric)

¾ – 1 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)

2½ tbsp Spice Mix*

1 sprig Curry Leaves

1 tsp Gud Shakkar (Jaggery Powder)

1½ – 2 tbsp Imli Paste (Tamarind Paste), adjust to taste

¾ – 1 C Water (adjust amount)

3 C Left Over Rice

For Spice Mix

In a small pan, dry roast each ingredient individually on low heat.

Begin by placing the pan on heat and adding chana dal and urad dal. Dry roast till they both turn golden. Immediately remove on a steel plate.

Move ahead now with other ingredients, one at a time. The pan is now hot and the rest of the ingredients will take lesser time to get roasted.

Be careful with each ingredient, especially sesame seeds and grated coconut as they can burn really easy.

After dry roasting each individual remove them on the plate and allow them all to cool completely.

I switched off the heat and toasted the Kashmiri lal mirch and red chili powder in the residual heat of the hot pan for 10 – 15 seconds.

Add it to the rest of the ingredients and grind everything to powder (not coarse and not too fine either) Store in a clean and air tight bottle or jar.

For Tempering 

In a small bowl, stir the tamarind paste in three fourth cup water and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil in a sauce pan / cooking pot and and add mustard seeds along with the nuts, chana dal and urad dal.

Sauté and them till the nuts and dals begin to turn golden and the mustard seeds begin to crackle.

Add the hing saute for a few seconds and then add the curry leaves. The curry leaves will splutter, so be careful with them.

Now add turmeric powder, salt and the spice mix. Stir well and add the tamarind water along with jaggery powder. Let everything come to a boil, stir and reduce heat.  Cover the pot with a lid. Cook for approximately seven minutes or till the mixture releases oil ensuring to stir occasionally. If the mixture becomes dry, add some water, tablespoon by tablespoon, as required. One cup in all is the max that you will need.

Switch off the heat and add the rice to the paste and mix well so that there are no dry bits.

Serve with papad and enjoy! (it tastes good served hot and at room temperature therefore it is great for lunch box, picnic or travel)

Note – It is highly recommended using sesame oil since it adds a nutty flavour to the whole dish. As such sesame oil and coconut oil are the two oils that are majorly used in south Indian cooking.

Note – I used ‘Mother’s Recipe’ brand of tamarind paste and used one and a half tablespoon of it since we prefer less sourness in our food. For those who love sour flavours can go ahead with using two tablespoons or more of tamarind paste.

Note – Feel free to adjust the amount of spices, heat and sourness to suit your taste. This is the ratio that we prefer.

Note – To save on time and to make your life easy, when making this dish, I recommend making a bigger batch of the spice mix so that you have it handy when you wish to make tamarind rice. It stays well for couple of months in an air tight container. However, having said that, nothing like freshly made one.

Serves – 2 to 3 adults

Thanks for your visit and see you soon again with another exciting recipe!

11 thoughts on “PULIHORA – इमली के चावल (Tamarind Rice)

  1. The rice looks so flavourful and comforting. I am not sure that I have ever had tamarind. And if I did, it must have been ages ago that I forget how it tastes like. As always, beautiful photography!

  2. I love rice dish, but never had it with tamarind…sounds delicious a great side dish.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe…hope you are enjoying your week!

  3. Tamarind rice is definitely on my list This week. I will let you know how it turns for me. Looks super tempting.

  4. You know I often wondered what Tamarind was until I was taken on a walking tour around Mombasa, Kenya whilst on honeymoon there and shown the Tamarind trees. I’d used the sticky black concentrate in some Indian cooking before but now I knew where it came from. Anyway your recipe reminded me of that trip and I know this rice dish would taste wonderful!

    1. It is used extensively in Indian cooking especially in peninsular states of India. The tangy tamarind and spices make it a really scrumptious dish 🙂

  5. What an absolutely beautiful dish! A fried rice is my usual for leftover rice, but your tamarind rice looks like a very competitive alternative. Thanks for sharing!

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