Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice, Imli Chawal)

Among all South Indian flavoured rice, lemon rice and tamarind rice compete for the top slot. Both are made often. Lemon rice is made when unannounced guests drop in. There is no need for an occasion to make tamarind rice. Most Devi temples (Goddess Uma in her myriad manifestations) also serve tamarind rice. The combination of tamarind, salt and chilli achieves perfection in this preparation.

1 1/4 cups red/brown rice
A lemon sized ball of tamarind
Salt to taste
For The Spice Powder
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi dhana, venthiyam)
1 tsp white sesame seeds (safed til, vellai ellu)
2 tbsp coriander seeds (sabut dhania, kothamalli varai)
5 dried red chillies (adjust according to tolerance level)
For The Seasoning
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
4 tsp split black gram (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
4 tsp Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
4 dried red chillies, broken into 2 pieces
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi powder, manjal podi)
100 gms roasted peanuts
1 sprig curry leaves
To Mix Into The Rice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Roast the coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds and red chillies till a fragrant aroma emanates
Roast the sesame seeds separately
Transfer all the roasted ingredients to a blender and grind to a fine powder
Set aside
Cook the rice, ensuring that the grains remain separate
Set aside
Soak the tamarind in about 2 cups of hot water
Extract the juice (about 2 cups)
Discard the pulp
Heat a large wok and add all ingredients mentioned under seasoning
Try to add the red chillies last so that it isn’t burnt
When the grams turn golden brown, add the tamarind extract and salt
Let it boil on medium flame for a few minutes
Switch off flame when the mixture begins to thicken
Set aside
Spread the rice on a plate
When slightly cool, mix in the turmeric powder (without breaking the rice grains)
Once the rice is cool, mix in the spice powder and tamarind paste
Serve at room temperature with papadams, crisps and/or a raita

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