Sunday, November 30, 2008

Puli Sadam (Tamarind Rice)

The helplessness and a feeling of despair that I was feeling for the last couple of days at the events unfolding in Bombay has been replaced by anger. Anger at the politiicans who walk around with a heavy security that they seem to worry more about their own survival than doing what they are elected for. Madame Gandhi makes her staunch supporter Shivraj Patil resign and hands over the Home Ministry to another equally staunch supporter of herself P.Chidambaram. Like the reshuffling is going to improve anything!! When is she going to resign? The utter disrespect and contempt that the general public is feeling for the politicians both in the ruling party and the opposting party is more than justified.

    Green Earth Recently we have been seeing a lot of squirrels in and around the house scurrying around. Just the other day we saw one come very close to the back door. They are usually very skittish and do not venture that close to human beings though they like to snack on my tomatoes and blue berries. The sightings of black squirrels which is very rare has been increasing. But these observations came to mind only after seeing this article "Where have the Acorns gone" in the newspaper this morning. Looks like the acorns have completely disappeared this year, leaving the squirrels and other creatures depending on them for food to starve. Hopefully the disapperance of the acorns is part of the boom bust cycle and nothing more.


Tamarind Rice has been a favorite of mine from as long as I can remember. The tangy spicy rice was always welcome with some fried vadagamas (Indian chips). This is also a handy dish to carry when travelling because of its ability to keep even when the weather is very hot and humid. The sauce for making the rice is cooked down to remove any moisture. It tastes better and better as it ages. We pack this quiet often when going on road trips. Along with thayir sadam (Curd Rice) makes for perfect travel food. I usually add onions and garlic while making the sauce, which I did not do here. This particular batch was made for the temple and I remember a friend mentioning that onions and garlic should not be added to the food offered at the temple. To explain further this food is not offered to the gods but for people who want to buy food to eat when they visit the temple. I do not particularly subscribe to this belief but wanted to respect the others who do. The dish did not miss the absence of onions and garlic. The next time I make it I am not going to add them either.

    Recipe for 3 Cups of Rice
    1. 3 Cups Basmati rice cooked with sesame oil and a few pinches of salt.
    Spread the rice to cool on a platter
    2. Tamarind pulp from a lemon sized ball of tamarind
    3. Seasonings: Curry leaves,asfoetida, mustard
    3b. 2 tsp each of Chana dal and urad dal and 1 heaped tbsp of roasted peanuts
    4. 3 tsp of turmeric powder
    5. 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
    6. Salt to taste
    7. 3 tsp canola oil (use sesame oil if preferred)

    For the Spice Powder

    1. 1 1/2 tbsp Chana Dal (Kadalai Paruppu)
    2. 3/4 tbsp urad dal
    3. 6 red chillies
    4. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
    5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
    6. a few pepper corns
    Roast the above and blend to a powder (I made it slightly coarse, a fine powder is ok as well)

    1. In a wide mouthed kadai heat the canola oil and when hot add the chana and urad dal and let them brown, add the asfoetida, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
    2. When the mustard starts to pop add the peanuts and saute for a minute.
    3. Now add the tamarind pulp with a bit of water, liquid should be about a cup and half
    4. Add the turmeric powder to the liquid. Continue to boil till the raw smell leaves and the tamarind starts to thicken. Add salt.
    5. Now add the spice powder and continue to reduce till no moisture is left.
    6. **The sesame oil can be added at this point and cooked for a minute or more. (optional)
    7. Let the savce cool for a while
    8. Add the sauce to the cooked and cooled rice, mix gently so as to not break the rice.
    9. Now heat the sesame oil slightly and pour over the rice and mix.

    ** I follow this method when preparing the sauce ahead of time. If adding sauce to cooked rice immediately this step can be skipped.


    1. All the 'varity' rices make such good travel food - or picnic meals. I look forward to train journeys in the South so that I may get to buy thayir sadam wrapped in banana leaves....

    2. Yeah, the helplessness, the despair, the anger... - same here. :( And to hear that 'We were not prepared for an attack of this measure'... makes me cringe. This is not the first time these terrorist attacks are happening.. When will the politicians learn to do something?? When their personal houses, the parliament building etc are attacked? Something has to be done about this...

      The puli saadam looks inviting! One of my fav. too! Once I took some sundal with onions [I didn't know!], to the temple as an offering, and the priest there was the ultimate in rudeness! Came home, offered it to the deity at home, and ate it all, with my friends! Never went back to that temple again. :(

    3. Anita or is it Manisha? packed or food bought at the train stations is what makes the journey so very enjoyable. The rice tastes extra tasty when eaten in the train!

      Kay, I would have been mad too! Why God particularly asked for non-onion food is beyond me.

    4. My absolute favorite mixed rice of all time!! I make it just about the same way! :)

    5. I saw a black squirrel on our thanksgiving trip as well, and was thinking that I haven't seen them around before! I had no idea there was an acorn shortage!! Poor creatures!
      I love puliyogare, but I buy the MTR one, it makes a quick dinner!

    6. The same anger goes here too. And when Chennai was flooded with the recent downpours we are much more helpless due to the worst drainage system in the metro :(
      The Puli Saatham is a real comfort food and yeah it suits all the seasons. othing can beat it for ravel food I bet! The plate looks really yummy!

    7. WO... Wo... This is my fav. Love it anytime a day. Love to have it with spicy potato fry. So mouth watering. YUM!

    8. you have a very nice blog. your recipe collection is great. tam rice looks delicious.

    9. Tamarind rice is one of my favorite. I usually use the MTR powder to do this. Need to try this.

    10. And now it's bookmarked :)


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