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South India refers to five Indian states – Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. Rice is the main ingredient all of these five states. Most of the food recipes made here are based on this one cereal. Rice is eaten with a side dish made of lentil or vegetables all the time.  Sometimes it is added to gravies (Pastes) to make mixed rice dishes called lemon rice, mango rice, brinjal rice, tamarind rice(Puliyogare) and Pulav.

Puliogare or Tamarind Rice

It is one of the yummiest mixed rice recipes from south India. Puli is tamarind and hore is rice.  It is called puliyogare in Tamil, Huli anna in Kannada and puli hora in telugu speaking belt.  It is one of the most popular rice dishes in the region and eaten at least thrice a month.

Its popularity is such that it has featured in various movies and folk songs as yummy and comfort food.  Take for example Maya Baazar, an old Telugu mythological movie.  A do-gooder Rakshshas enters a marriage kitchen and salivates at the various dishes there.  He swallows a big vessel full of puliyogare along with calorie loaded kheer and laddos in one swipe.


Here are some Puligare making methods that you can try at home.

How it is made different styles

Though Tamarind rice is common in all the south Indian states, there are minor variations done while preparation of this dish. You will find an oh-so-light difference in tastes because of this.

  • Tamil Nadu

In Tamil Nadu, a thick Tamarind juice extract is tempered in gingelley oil with groundnuts, chana dal mustard, curry leaves and a generous amount of red chillies. Then it is set to boil until it becomes pulpy and oil separates from this pulp. Dark tamarind is recommended for making this dish. Spice flavors may be adjusted to your liking.

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This pulp is called Pulikachal. The required quantity of this paste is added to rice to prepare puliyogare or mixed Tamarind rice.

  • Iyengar style

While most tamilians cook it by the above method, the Iyengar (Tamil Vaishnavite brahmins)  add a special dry roasted powder at the end to give it a new tasty twist.  This powder is made from roasted coriander seeds, sesame seeds, and fenugreek seeds.

  • Andhra style

In Andhra and Telangana, the tamarind mix that is set to boil has green chilli, cumin seeds and ginger in addition to red chillies and groundnuts.

After the tamarind paste is cooked, it is added to this rice mixed with oil and fried curry leaves.  The spice content is highest in this region’s puliyogare.

  • Karnataka pulihore

Kannadigas like to have their rice dishes mild.  They reduce the chilli content and add jaggery to make it sweet-sour tamarind rice.

Grandma recipes

Some families have their very own recipes handed down from grandmother to Grandmother.  Here is one for you to try. Instead of extracting tamarind juice it is grounded raw along with a measure of desiccated coconut.  Then a tempering is made of mustard, red chilli, chana dal, peanuts, and asafotedia. The ground mixture plus little water plus tempering is set to boil.  The paste obtained after the raw smell goes is out-of-this-world.  Of course, this Tamarind rice paste will stay good for only a week due to coconut content in it.

All other styles of puliyogare stay good for a month easily, but one should ensure all the moisture is gone from the mix and a layer of oil floats on top.  People with hectic schedules can prepare this paste on their weekly offs and use them whenever they have no time to cook special dishes.

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One thing to note while mixing the Tamarind paste and rice is, it should be mixed evenly and at least one hour before serving.  The reason for this is more the longer the tamarind paste seeps into the rice, the tastier it becomes.  Also, the best side dish would be something fried such as pappad or fried snacks.

Benefits of tamarind

Tamarind rice has many benefits.  Most of them from the main ingredient Tamarind.

  • Good for digestion
  • Helps in weight loss
  • Good for people having diabetes
  • Anti-inflammatory properties
  • For heart and circulation
  • Boosts immunity

So you can eat this dish any number of times a month.

Occasions for making

This tamarind rice is made regularly in all homes in south India. It really does not need an occasion. Mothers prepare it when they are going out of town leaving kids to prepare food for themselves.

At the end of big fat weddings, this dish is packed for the return journey of a groom taking his bride home. Obviously, this rice is a must for long train journeys. as it stays fresh for more than 1 day.

Mothers of NRIs cook it in huge batches so that their sons who lack cooking skills do not miss their mother badly.

There are some occasions when it is offered to God. Pulihore is made in during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi in Andhra Pradesh and Adi peruku, a festival of Tamil Nadu.

Nowadays you also get ready-to-eat mixes like MTR Puligore that you can buy from most grocery shops in the south.

Featured Photo By Wikimedia Commons

Puliyogare – The Yummy Tamarind Rice Dish Of South India

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