Puli Sadham/Puliyogare/Tamarind rice

Puli Sadham – the very words make you think of long trips. Yep, its the ultimate Indian picnic food, and I think its because it is easy to put together and it keeps for a long time. Unlike American roadtrips, where every exit on the freeway has a fast food stop loaded with options, the Indian road trips involved enormous preparations, mostly involving mouthwatering dishes. There were fried foods like murukkus and sweets for snacking and a few main dishes: puli sadham being a unanimous choice.

Puli or tamarind, is the ultimate preservative used in Indian food. It is used in almost all our dishes, whether you take it on long trips or not. I believe the usage should be attributed to making dishes stand the hot weathers in India,  in days where refrigeration was unheard of. I’ve seen my grandma, put leftover rice in tamarind water overnight, where it soaks and doesn’t go bad. In the morning, she would make this delicious puli sadham out of it, which was simple and hardly make you feel you were eating left overs.

I had some leftover rice the other day, and instead of putting it in the refrigerator, I decided to make puli sadham out of it, my grandma’s way. Puliyodharai, as this dish is also called, is the same puli sadham made by mixing rice with pulikachal. That is a more elaborate and richer tasting version of the same dish, I will be posting that version also, very soon.


1 cup of cooked rice (leftover)

a small golf ball sized tamarind

2 tbsp gingelly oil, plus extra as needed

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp urad dal

1 tsp channa dal

1 tbsp peanuts

3 whole red chillies

1 sprig of curry leaves

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

pinch of asafoetida

salt to taste


On the previous day, warm the rice in the microwave for a minute or two. Add 1 tbsp gingelly oil to the rice and use a fork to carefully seperate the grains(as much as possible), without mashing the grains. Meanwhile, soak the tamarind in a half cup of warm water, squeeze it to get a thick extract. Mix the tamarind extract, the salt and the turmeric powder with the rice. Add half the tamarind extract first, and then go little by little. You don’t want it to become soupy, or else the rice will be soggy the next day. Just add enough so that the extract coats every grain of rice. Cover and let sit overnight.

The next day morning, heat the remaining oil in a wide nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds. Let it splutter, then add the urad dal and the channa dal. Let it turn golden brown. Add the peanuts and let it fry. Add the broken red chillies, curry leaves and the hing. When these are fried, add the rice mixture to the pan. The rice would have absorbed all the tamarind by now. Gently mix the rice into the seasoning, taking care not to break the grains. Keep turning until the rice is warmed through and the raw tamarind flavor disappears. Check for seasoning, add more salt or gingelly oil as needed.

Serve hot with papad and potato fry.

Verdict: It was tangy, spicy and comforting. ‘The best part is the nutty flavor of the peanuts’, my husband said.

All in all, this is the ultimate and the most traditional of all leftover makeovers. This is also my entry to Think Spice – Tamarind event hosted by Padmajha of Seduce your Tastebuds. The Think Spice event is a monthly event showcasing a new spice every month started by Sunita Bhuyan of Sunita’s world.

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