Tamarind Rice / Temple Style Puliyodarai

Tamarind Rice / Temple Style Puliyodarai ~ Rice mixed with tamarind sauce and an aromatic South-Indian spice mix

If you grew up in Southern India, I bet this brings back memories of the yummy puliyodarai / puliyogare / kovil pulisadham served as prasadam in temples on special occasions. There was always something different about the ones offered in the temples – and I just learnt that it is in the spice powder that is mixed at the very end with crunchy bits of lentils and hints of the red chili spicing up the rice. So go ahead and try this quick to fix rice dish on a lazy Saturday afternoon and enjoy it with some chips and fries!

Source: Multiple blogs

Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 3 cups of tamarind rice


Set 1 – For the tamarind paste & rice:

  1. Cooked white rice – 3 cups (any variety)
  2. Tamarind – lemon sized ball, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes [Extract pulp using 3/4 cup of water and take out seeds/roots]
  3. Oil – 1 tbsp
  4. Mustard – 1 tsp
  5. Urad or white lentil – 1 tbsp
  6. Chana Dal  Bengal Gram Dal – 1 tbsp
  7. Raw Peanuts – handful (optional)
  8. Dry Red Chilies – 2 or 3, or to taste
  9. Ginger – 1 tsp grated
  10. Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
  11. Curry leaves – few for garnishing
  12. Salt to taste

For the spice powder:

  1. Oil – 1 tbsp
  2. Urad Dal – 1 tbsp
  3. Chana Dal – 1 tbsp
  4. Dry Red Chilies – 4 or to taste
  5. Coriander Seeds – 1 tbsp
  6. White Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp
  7. Fenugreek seeds (methi) – 1 tsp
  8. Peanuts – 1 tbsp (optional)


Both the steps can be done in parallel to speed-en up the cooking process.

Prepare the spice powder:

The spice powder is what determines the spice-level of the tamarind rice, so adjust the number of chilies according to taste.

  1. Heat some oil in a saute pan.
  2. Add the urad and chana dal and cook until browning begins, on med-high.
  3. Add the chilies, coriander seeds, sesame seeds and peanuts and cook for a couple more minutes on medium heat until light brown all over. Keep tossing around to prevent burn-spots on the peanuts and stop when you see the sesame seeds begins to crackle.
  4. Let it cool down a little bit and then take it out in a food processor/ blender.
  5. Grind to a coarse powder and keep it closed to preserve the aroma.

For the tamarind paste (pulikachal):

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard, chili, urad, peanuts, curry leaves and cook until slightly brown all over and mustard crackles.
  2. Add the grated ginger and turmeric powder and saute for a few seconds.
  3. Add the tamarind pulp and salt and mix well.
  4. Cook for 10-15 minutes until it reaches a thick paste-like consistency and oil begins to separate from the mix. Turn off the heat.

Bringing it all together:

  1. In a mixing bowl, add the cooked rice (keeping some aside to adjust for taste later). The rice should have cooled down a little to avoid mashing the grains while mixing.
  2. Add the tamarind paste a little at a time, mixing well and tasting to see if more is required (the rice can be strongly or lightly flavored based on preference).
  3. Sprinkle spice powder to taste and mix together.
  4. Add more salt if needed and mix together.
  5. Set aside for 20-30 minutes to allow flavors to settle down and serve with potatoes/fries/raita/sundal.

The trick is to not mix all the rice, tamarind paste and spice mix at one go but rather to bring it together a little by little – so that you have some rice or spice/paste mix backup available if you wanted to adjust the taste to your preference.


  1. Adjust the amount of rice, tamarind paste and spice powder to get the desired spice level and taste.
  2. Peanuts are optional, but highly recommended.
  3. Left over or extra tamarind paste and spice powder can be stored in air tight containers in the refrigerator for a week or so.

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