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Puliyodharai/ Tamarind Rice from spicy Pulikachal Tamarind Paste

Puliyodhari a popular South Indian Rice dish, made by mixing cooked rice with a spicy tamarind paste cooked in sesame oil. Lunch box, meal at home or packed for travel, it is delicious even when cold. Soak the tamarind overnight for best results.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Indian, south indian, Tamil Brahmin, Tamilian
Keyword: pulikachal, puliyodhari, puliyogare, tamarind rice
Servings: 1 cup
Calories: 1864kcal
Author: Sujata Shukla


Ingredients for Puliyodharai Tamarind Rice

  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • ¼ cup Pulikachal / Tamarind Spice paste from recipe below
  • ½ tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste

Pulikachal Ingredients: To Roast and Powder

  • 1 tablespoon split black gram lentils / split Urad dal/ Ulutham paruppu
  • 1 tablespoon split bengal gram lentils / split chana dal/ kadala paruppu
  • 5 dry red chilies or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fenugreek /Methi seeds/ vendiyam
  • 2 tablespoons Coriander seeds /Dhania seeds/ kothamalli vera
  • 1 teaspoon Sesame seeds /til seeds/ ellu

Pulikachal Ingredients: To Temper

  • 3 tablespoon sesame oil / til oil/ nalla ennai
  • 1 teaspoon Mustard seeds / rai/ kadugu
  • 2 tablespoons curry leaves kari patta/ karuvepallai
  • 1 tablespoon split black gram lentils / split Urad dal/ Ulutham paruppu
  • 1 tablespoon split bengal gram lentils / split chana dal/ kadala paruppu
  • 10 dry red chilies or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida powder /Hing/ perungaiyam
  • 3 tablespoons peanuts
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder Haldi/ manjal podi

Pulikachal: Other Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons tamarind pulp Indian lemon sized ball
  • 2 cups water warm, not boiling hot
  • ½ teaspoon salt


How To Make the Pulikachal Tamarind mix

  • This may be made a day or a few days ahead, up to 10 days maximum.
    Soak the tamarind in 2 cups of warm water (warm water is fine, don't use boiling hot water). Set aside till required. It usually takes 5-10 minutes for the tamarind to soften enough for the juice to be extracted. Though 10 minutes is sufficient, for best results I soak the tamarind overnight. This is optional.
  • Meanwhile Measure out all the ingredients, checking that the spices and condiments are dry.
    Roast (on a dry pan) separately, each of the ingredients listed out as "To Roast and Powder", as below.
  • Dry roast the methi/ fenugreek till they just begin to darken or for about 5 seconds on a hot pan kept on low flame, and transfer to a dry bowl.
    Keeping the heal on low, roast the dals / lentils till they just begin to darken, for about 5 -10 seconds and transfer to the same bowl.
  • Roast the red chilies for about 15 seconds and transfer to the bowl.
    Roast the coriander seeds for about 10 seconds, after all the above, as coriander tends to leave a residue in the pan. Transfer the coriander to the bowl, wipe out the pan to remove the residue.
  • Roast the sesame seeds quickly for 5-10 seconds or before they darken. Sesame can burn very fast, and sputters in the hot pan, so keep the flame on low and remove quickly. Add it to the bowl.
    Let the roasted ingredients cool, and then grind to a fine powder. Set aside till required.
  • Extract the juice of the tamarind, by taking the ball of tamarind out of the water and squeezing out any left over juice. Strain to remove any seeds or bits of tamarind fiber from the water. Discard the fiber. If using ready made tamarind extract, use about 1 tablespoon of paste and mix it in warm water
  • Heat the pan/ kadai and add sesame (gingelly oil). Other oils such as sunflower oil may be used, but sesame oil will give the authentic and perfect taste. Do not however use coconut oil, mustard oil and other oils with distinctive smell and flavour.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the mustard seeds and let them burst. Keep the pan on low flame.
    Add curry leaves. If the curry leaves are fresh, stand back as they may sputter.
  • Add chana dal/ kadala paruppu and split urad dal, saute for 5- 10 seconds till they just begin to darken. Add hing/ asafoetida powder.
    Add Turmeric powder, sauté for 5 seconds
  • Add Red chilies, saute for 15 seconds, stirring so the chilies do not char (blacken).
    Add the peanuts, saute for 20 seconds so they are fried through. Peanuts have a tendency to split and even burst when added to hot oil.
    Add the tamarind extract/ tamarind paste in water, to the pan of spices.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil, add the roasted spice powder.
    Lower the flame, add salt. I add only a little salt to the paste, and then add more when I'm mixing it with rice for Puliyodharai/ Tamarind rice.
    Keeping the stove on low flame and stirring frequently, let the paste cook.
    Turn off the stove when the consistency is that of a thick paste. This may take 20 minutes or more.

How To make the Puliyodharai

  • Take the cooked rice in a wide bowl. Add sesame oil and a little salt. Mix gently so that the rice does not break or get mashed.
  • Add about ¼ cup of pulikachal and mix it into the rice.
    Taste the Puliyodharai and add more pulikachal if you need it more spicy or if the taste is bland. Add salt as may be required to your taste.
  • Serve with appalam /papad or vadams/ vathal to accompany. Microwaved appalams are a good option instead of deep frying.


Calories: 1864kcal | Carbohydrates: 267g | Protein: 51g | Fat: 74g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 1858mg | Potassium: 2890mg | Fiber: 37g | Sugar: 55g | Vitamin A: 8662IU | Vitamin C: 2156mg | Calcium: 605mg | Iron: 17mg