Now that wouldn’t do, even though it was a highly practical recipe for a rational, everyday quantity of rice. Karnataka cuisine, bar the Mangalorean/Konkan style, is as undersold as Oriya cuisine so it has to be as authentic as possible, at least in my ’umble blog, so there began the task of preparing myself mentally to soak, squeeze and boil down the 1/4th kilo of tamarind that all the seemingly Karnataka-style recipes called for. (I didn’t want to scale down for authenticity’s sake, am bad at Maths.)
A tad anaemic, but that can be addressed by adding more concentrate/more turmeric during the final tempering!
In fact, I’ve no doubt that this is a Karnataka recipe as it’s called Mysore Puliyogare, and it also says that the author was raised in that State but it shall remain unnamed because the instructions started unraveling halfway through the recipe and it was left to yours truly to take it upon herself to put two and two together and finish it off!
As it happened, the finished product had nothing in common with the other one I mentioned, but was very different from the pulihora we make at home. I had never tried my hand at chintapandu pulihora (tamarind rice), often a dirty yellow-brown whose sourness set my teeth on edge almost everywhere I encountered it, but nimmakaya pulihora (lemon rice) and its mango counterpart were a different kettle of fish altogether (now, fish and pulihora is an interesting thought, but I digress).
The difference between our home’s pulihora and others’ was that we wouldn’t put any nuts in ours, tamarind, lemon or mango, but with this dish, that’s going to change, even though the recipe didn’t mention any. Does that take away from the Mysoreness of the pulihora? I don’t know. I had to ask a friend how to use the puliyogare concentrate, and with a wicked glint in her eye, she explained.
“Spread the cooked rice in a plate and cool it. Mix gingelly (sesame) oil with it, so much that your hand also becomes nice and oily (the glint appeared here), and mix the concentrate with the rice.”
“But what about the nuts?” I asked.
“Well, aren’t they in the concentrate already?” she asked.
No, I said. I still don’t know when to include them in the concentrate but I’m going to fry a bit of them separately, along with some more mustard seed, black gram and curry leaf, and put them in the rice.
Here’s the recipe, then!
The tamarind and coriander powder/seeds are not seen
Tamarind: ¼ kg/250 gm
Coriander powder: 1 tbsp (the book recommended 1 tbsp of coriander seeds, to be fried with the rest of the ingredients in oil)
Peppercorns: 1 tsp
Fenugreek seeds: ¼ tsp
Mustard seeds: ¼ tsp
Asafoetida: A chip/crystal the size of a tamarind seed (could be ¼ tsp, or ½ tsp of the powdered variety)
Salt: 1-1/2 tbsp (I used iodised crystal salt)
Dry red chillies: 30, stalks off
Jaggery: 50 gm (the book recommended 100 gm)
Black gram dal, split, husked: 2 tbsp
Bengal gram dal, split, husked: 2 tbsp
Turmeric: 1 tsp
White sesame seeds: 3 tbsp
Dessicated coconut: 3 tbsp (the book recommended ¼ of coconut but I’ve seen other recipes include dry coconut in Karnataka versions)
Sesame/gingelly oil: 7-8 tsp (the book doesn’t specify)
Wash tamarind. Soak tamarind, salt and jaggery in water an hour ahead.
After an hour or more, squeeze the tamarind to extract the juice, strain into a cooking vessel. Discard the pulp.
Boil this juice – it took more than an hour for all the water to evaporate and the concentrate to thicken. In fact, I kept adding water as I 'kneaded' the tamarind for easy pulp extraction, but if you can do it with less, well and good.
Barring coriander powder, fry all the remaining ingredients in oil till a nice aroma comes off the pan. Make sure the red chillies don’t blacken.
Whiz the fried mixture along with coriander powder to a ‘pasty’ powder (don’t add any water, but the oil will make it wet) in a mixer/grinder.
As the tamarind concentrate begins to thicken, begin to simmer it.
Just before you remove it from the fire, add the spice mix to the pan. Stir well and take off fire.
Glorious, isn't it?
Cool completely and bottle. Put it in the fridge.
This amount was recommended for 3.5 kilos of rice. The rice should be plain, non-Basmati, non-scented rice.
To use the tamarind concentrate, mix it with cooked and cooled rice to which some oil and turmeric powder has been added. Temper it with mustard seeds, some black gram dal, curry leaves and nuts fried in a bit of sesame oil.
My concentrate has a lovely aroma of asafoetida and sesame oil, not to mention the flavour of the dry red chilli!
Here's more info on pulihora/puliyogare.
Here's a rava version and a semia version and a carrot version
RCI-Karnataka Puliyogare/pulihora/tamarind rice