Puliodharai / Pulikachal

Amma’s Puliodharai is simply the best and incomparable. Though I make it the same way like her, DH always comments that it never tastes like my Amma’s. Must be her “Kai Pakkuvam”, I guess.  Many fond memories are associated with this puliodharai as I feel that it has been a part of my growing up during the childhood.  The way my Grandma packs puliodharai only makes it even more appetizing.


Grandma used to oil a freshly plucked banana leaf with gingelly oil and line a “Sembadam” with this leaf before placing the puliodharai onto the leaf and closing it tightly to take it on our Outdoor trips. I vividly remember opening the “Sembadam” during our lunch while sitting under a tree at “Mookkombu”. The aroma was so heady and just unforgettable. The whole gang will have a feast. Another day, another venues like “Ucchi Pillaiyar Koil, Vayalur Murugan Temple but all places are etched in my mind and will always be associated with this aromatic puliodharai that we all shared together for lunch.


You’ll need:

Cooked Rice 2 cups
Tamarind 100 gms
Mustard Seeds 1 tsp
Asafetida 1/4 tsp
Sesame Seeds 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp
Whole red chillies 5
Channa dal 2 tsp
Peanuts 1 handful
Curry Leaves 2 sprigs
Gingelly oil 100 ml
Salt To taste

For Powder – 1

Channa Dal 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds 2 tbsp
Black pepper corn 1/2 tsp

For Powder – 2

Fenugreek Seeds 1/2 tsp
Whole red chillies 8 - 10
Black Sesame Seeds 2 tsp



For Powder – 1:  Dry Roast the ingredients separately one after the other and powder finely. Reserve 2 tsp of this powder separately.

For Powder – 2:  Heat a pan with a tsp of gingelly oil and roast one after the other and powder it finely and keep it aside.

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Bring some water to boiling hot and soak the tamarind in the water and close with a lid. Let it be for 1/2 hour. Now mash the pulp well by hand and it will be very easy to extract the pulp or you can also blend it in a blender and pass it through a sieve. The extract has to be thick.oil 054

Heat the gingelly oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. once they splutter add asafetida, sesame seeds, whole red chillies, channa dal, peanuts, curry leaves and roast well.

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Add the tamarind extract from the sides of the pan, turmeric powder and salt and let it come to a boil. Add both the powders to the tamarind extract and cook over medium flame till it thickens a bit or till the oil starts to separate. This is the time to take it off the stove.

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Pulikachal is ready to be served. You can store this in an airtight container and it stays good for a fortnight. Remember to use a clean spoon always.


To make Puliodharai:  Spread the cooked rice on a plate. Drizzle gingelly oil all over the rice. Add required amount of pulikachal and the reserved Powder-1 and mix well taking care not to break the rice. Serve with vadams.



Do not add pulikachal to hot rice. Cool the rice first to room temperature.
Cooking the pulikachal for a long time to make it thick will render it bitter.
For enhanced taste use both old or aged and new tamarind equally. While the aged tamarind gives nice taste, the new one will give nice color.
Using rock salt will make pulikachal to last long.
Use Gingelly oil for authentic taste. You can use other oils too.

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