[Photograph: Prasanna Sankhe]
Tamarind rice or Puliyodharai is a delicious dish from the south of India, a region that loves its rice. Leftover rice is combined with spices, tamarind pulp and peanuts to create a filling meal with minimal fuss. It's served as a main course and often makes an appearance at auspicious occasions in southern India.
Tamarind rice is one of those dishes you can make ahead and store. Well, not the rice part, but the tamarind mix. So all you have to do is stir-fry leftover rice into the heated tamarind mixture for an instant meal. Have it with a few fried papads or some Indian chilli pickle and you have a dinner that's unique and filling.
Note: Bengal gram are an Indian lentil also sold as channa dal. They can be found in any Indian market.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 curry leaves
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon bengal gram (see note)
- 1 tablespoon peanuts
- 2 whole dry red chillis
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
- 1/2 cup tamarind juice
- 1 teaspoon jaggery or demerara sugar
- 2 cups boiled white rice
- Kosher salt
Heat oil in a medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Stand back and add curry leaves, fenugreek seeds, black mustard seeds, bengal gram and peanuts (oil will sputter). Stir until the oil is infused with the flavours and the fragrance emanates from the mixture, about 5 minutes, reducing heat as necessary if curry leaves threaten to burn. Add the chillis and the turmeric. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tamarind and sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the oil separates, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and stir gently until thoroughly coated with the tamarind mixture. Season to taste with salt and transfer to a serving bowl. Serve immediately.