Spicy and sour , a traditional recipe , a must during the festival times. This is a bit tricky to make , but surely a winner amongst the lot and a sure to be on the menu , for every occasion , festival. I cannot remember a time when it was not cooked  and I cannot remember a time , when I didn’t stamp my foot in anger and walk away because it was “this” dish again !

Today when I revisit this heirloom , in my kitchen , I am in awe of this wonderful recipe and wonder why  I threw a tantrum when it was made.

Pulihora , as we call it , is predominantly made of thick tamarind paste , mixed with rice and a spicy tempering. Each household has their own way  of making it , while the basic ingredients remain the same.  Pulihora is often teamed up with Payasam(kheer) and they make a great combination.

My mother is here and it her signature dish and a final offering to god during Dussehra.  This is her recipe and I hope whoever makes it enjoys it as much as we do.


The items used in these pictures are gifts from my mom. The brass bowl was normally used to cook rice or dal for naivedyam on a charcoal stove back in India. These are  heirlooms which are immensely dear to me and remind me of my dear grandmother.


1 and 1/2 cups of uncooked rice to be cooked with about 3 cups of water and a teaspoon each of salt and ghee.

1 teaspoon of salt or more  for later use during mixing.

For the Tempering/ Popu/Tadka

2 Tablespoons of  Sesame Oil( Gingelly Oil)

2 thick tablespoons of tamarind paste

2 teaspoons of Urad dal

2 teaspoons of mustard seeds

4-6 red chillies

4-6 slit green chillies

10-15 curry leaves

1/8 teaspoon of asafoetida / hing powder

For the Garnish :

1/2 cup of roasted peanuts /almonds/ cashews

To be mixed with rice (optional)

2 teaspoons of roasted dhaniya powder / sesame powder or 1/4 cup of fresh grated coconut.

Cilantro leaves


1. Cook the rice with a teaspoon of ghee and salt with 3 cups of water in a pressure cooker or in a microwave . If cooking in the microwave add an extra cup of water and cook for about 15-18 minutes on a high. Each grain should be separate.

2. Heat oil in pan , add urad dal , mustard seeds , red chillies , hing , curry leaves and green chillies , in that order , once the  mustard seeds sizzle and the green chillies are done  , add the tamarind paste , if needed add a bit of water  , turmeric and cook until the raw smell dissapears. Take care not to burn the paste .   Remove from heat and let it cool completely.

3. Once the rice is cooled , add the tempering  , adjust salt , add dhaniya powder or sesame powder or fresh grated coconut, cilantro leaves and mix well.  Let is sit for atleast 30 minutes  before serving. It tastes best when served at room temperature with a dollop of thick yogurt.


The second picture is my entry to Click- Heirloom hosted by Jugalbandi.


You can skip adding these powders or coconut to the rice and keep it plain and simple or you can add  1/2 teaspoon of mustard powder mixed with a few drops of oil and add it to the pulihora. This is called ” Aavapettadam”  The reason we add a few drops of oil is to awaken the pungent taste of the mustard powder.

20 thoughts on “Heirloom

  1. sreedevi says:

    Yeah, festivals and celebrations are incomplete without pulihora.Nice presentation.
    A word of caution Dee.Copper and brass vessels should not be used to cook,store or serve the food containing sour agents… in this case tamarind.The green patches on the rim are the results of the chemical reaction taken place.Probably, it is called ‘KILUMU’ in telugu.

  2. Soma says:

    Dee that brass bowl is such a treasure.. sooooo beautiful.. & is the picture. It is like i can see the festivities yet the calm in it, just like back home..
    I have to admit that i have never made my own paste. always buy the store bought powder or paste. I will come back here to make mine own sometimes.

  3. Dee says:

    Thanks Guys .. yes the recipe is lovely , so are the brass bowls that my mom got

    @ Sridevi, you are right .. the weather were I live doesnt seem to agree well with them. I have some brass idols that turn into this color . we call it ” chilumu” in telugu .. Ironically , A good scrub with tamarind and salt helps in cleaning them off and is great for polishing this stuff !

    @ Soma , your description of the imagery is so beautiful . I never thought of it that way and thats why you are such a big hit amongst us fans !! Hugs !

  4. sahiti says:

    The very aroma of the pulihora awakens the festive memories.Thanks for sharing your version.

    Brass vessels are safe to use for cooking acidic food provided they are properly TINNED(kalaayi pettina ginnelu).

  5. Dee says:

    @sahiti , you are most welcome. Im aware tht if brass is tinned well its good for cooking .. In my household they are used mostly for cooking naivedyam ..and that too rice and dal. .
    Thankyou Nags :)

  6. Gloria says:

    I love family traditions! I remember my own family food traditions from growing up. My grandmother went out of her way to always have the food I loved on hand when I came to visit. I miss my grandmother and the special memories she would make so I could have them the rest of my life.

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