This post is dedicated to H.U.G – Humane Universal Good Deed Network, who had undertaken to generate and distribute 200,000 meals for the needy and the underprivileged at Bangalore, during the Daan Utsav between 2nd and 8th October 2016. A menu had been fixed, with simple rice items which could be easily cooked even in large quantities in the micro kitchens being established, and by volunteers who were to help in this endeavour. Follow H.U.G and the hashtag #HUGFeedWithLove, on Facebook to know more about the event. One of the items on the menu is a Puliyodharai or Tamarind Rice, and here is my recipe for preparation of the same.
During my student days, specially when I was studying to become a Chartered Accountant, I was a frequent visitor to neighbouring temples (well, lots of exams and so lots of prayers too!) The temples in Chennai where I then lived, were generous with their Prasadams ( the delicious foods offered as nievedhiem to the deities and then distributed to the worshippers.) As children, my cousins and I would wait patiently in the queue for our turn to receive a donnai (a environmentally friendly cup made of dried leaves) full of prasadam, and would crane our necks trying to figure out what was the prasadam of the day. The sweet sakkaripongal, dripping with ghee was a big favourite, but the spicy Puliyodharai (spiced tamarind rice) was a close second. My parents often made huge batches of prasadam at home, to offer at the Temple, and my mother’s Puliyodharai was outstanding in taste.
The day the prasadam was to be made, the house would be redolent with the aroma of the Pulikachal (mix of chillis and spices sauteed in hot oil) in progress, the oil and the spices and the sharp smell of chillies frying. I loved the fragrance of sesame seeds when they were added to the gingelly (sesame) oil which was the only oil used to make the pulikachal. Offerings to the Gods could not of course, be tasted before hand, so we had to wait like everyone else for the pooja to be completed at the temple, and to stand in the queue for our turn to receive the Puliyodharai prasadam. Once back home there would be a container full of surplus pulikachal, ready to be feasted on for a week or so at least.
Puliyodharai , made from Pulikachal mixed with rice, and with appalams (pappad) or chips were an integral part of train journeys in those days. Mother would stir some of the pulikachal mix into a large quantity of rice, add a little sesame oil, check the taste for seasonings, and when done, would tuck the Puliyodharai into individual packets of banana leaves in turn wrapped in newspapers and with a rubber band apiece to hold the packet intact. Train journeys would usually be for at least a night and a day, often for 2 nights. The packets of puliyodharai , lemon rice and curd rice would remain fresh for at least 2 meals, and somehow, tasted even better after several hours into the journey.
Here then is my recipe for Pulikachal, slightly modified from my mothers recipe. I made a batch today, and have already made inroads into this delicious spicy mix, for lunch. The pulikachal can normally be used for upto 10 days if kept in the fridge in tightly closed jar, and if it is ensured that only a dry spoon is used and no moisture/ water is permitted ingress into the jar.
Apart from making the tamarind rice or Puliyodharai , the pulikachal may be used as a side with curd rice and goes well with chappaties too.
Check out the recipe and do tell me how your Puliyodharai turned out and whether you made any changes !