Kovil Pulingari

Pulingari or Pulungari is a variant from the sambar family. Pulingari is a tamarind and coconut based gravy, hence the name. This one is divinely tasty, but is distinct from the taste of sambar though. This pulingari finds a mention in at http://www.keralaiyers.com/cuisine as well.

This one is a speciality at the temple in my native place. Made during the Navratri festival in the village, it is a unique dish with a special taste – especially when made in the temple during Navratri. People visiting from other neighbourhood places also would sing praises of the pulungari.

It uses only a combination of the four veggies – white pumpkin (elavan/safed bhopla), yellow pumpkin (maththan/laal bhopla), raw bananas (vazhakkya/kachcha kela), and elephant foot yam (chenai/suran). 

Have followed mom’s instructions to the T in this one 🙂 . 


White pumkin (elavan), Raw banana (vazhakkya), and Elephant foot yam (chenai/suran): I used about 2 cups of a combination of these vegetables (You can use yellow/red pumpkin as well)

Tuvar dal (Yellow pigeon peas split): ½ cup

Tamarind: about 1 large lemon (or about equivalent tamarind paste)

Jaggery crushed/powdered: 1½ teaspoon

Curry leaves: 3-4 chopped

Mustard seeds: ½ teaspoon

Oil: 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste


For Paste 1: (Coconut)

Green chillies: 4

Grated coconut: 2 tablespoons


For Paste 2: (Rice Flour)

Rice Flour: 2 teaspoons (dry roasted till pinkish)

Red chilly powder: 1 teaspoon


For Paste 3: (Methi-Mustard)

Fenugreek (methi) seeds: 1 teaspoon

Mustard seeds: ½ teaspoon


**Keep note that this dish does not include Asafoetida (hing) – this is otherwise an ingredient used in most other Sambar/Kozhambu varieties.



  1. In a pressure cooker, cook the following for about 4-5 whistles (or till well-cooked):
    a) Tuvar dal with 2.5-3 cups of water

    b) The vegetables washed, cleaned (of seeds for pumpkin), peeled, and chopped into ½ inch cubes
  2. Wait for the steam to be released from the cooker. Once the steam is released from the cooker, mash the dal slightly with the back of a ladle.
  3. For paste 1, grind the coconut and green chillies to a coarse paste in a chutney jar of a mixer or a food processor.
  4. For paste 2, mix the rice flour and red chilly powder and make a thick paste with about 2 tablespoons of water. Ensure there are no lumps.
  5. For paste 3, dry roast the mustard and methi seeds for about a minute or so – till a nice roasted aroma comes. Cool and powder the seeds in a coffee/spice grinder or a chutney jar of a mixer to a fine powder. Dissolve this powder in a tablespoon of water.
  6. In the meanwhile, soak the tamarind in water and heat in a microwave for about a minute. When cooled, extract all the pulp and discard the skins. You may use additional water to extract the pulp – a total of about 4 cups.
  7. In a heavy-bottomed vessel/pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds.
  8. When they pop, add the curry leaves. Fry for a few seconds.
  9. Add the tamarind pulp to the tempering and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the tamarind pulp for about 15 minutes.
  10. Then, add the cooked vegetables and mashed tuvar dal – mix well.
  11. Cook for a couple of minutes so that the vegetables get the tamarind flavor.
  12. Add the paste 1 of ground coconut and green chillies. Mix well and cook for a minute.
  13. Next, include salt to taste along with the jaggery.
  14. When the jaggery dissolves, mix in the paste 2 of the rice flour and red chilly powder.
  15. Cook for 4-5 minutes till the rice flour is cooked and the pulingari thickens.
  16. Finally, stir in the paste 3 of the methi and mustard seed powder.
  17. Bring to a boil and then turn off the heat.
  18. Cover and let the pulingari stand for a few minutes. This helps the flavors of the methi and mustard to seep in without making the pulingari bitter (this is also a reason why we don’t cook the mixture for too long after adding the last paste).
  19. Serve hot with rice. Traditionally, the accompaniment for pulingari is Olan (a very simple, flavorful dish – a combination of pumpkin, beans/lentils cooked, or jackfruit seeds with salt and garnished with coconut oil. – will post it whenever I make it).

5 Responses to “Kovil Pulingari”

  1. Looks yummy!
    Have heard of this dish, but could find its recipe online. Thanks for sharing the recipe skribles.

    From skribles: Thanks Uma. Yes, me too havent seen its recipe online 🙂 … Hope you try it out and like it …

  2. Yummy .. I was looking for this dish everywhere .. !!
    We normally have kozhukattai with pulingari in our home.. it is a very delicious combination

    From skribles: Thanks Raji – Sounds like an interesting combi. Will try it out sometime.

  3. dat luks delicious would love 2 try it…..

  4. My dad and grandmother would swear by Puthucode Navaratri Pulingari. The couple of times I have had it, I’ve loved it too. Maybe I can introduce this to my wife and bring it back into the family. Thanks!

  5. I am a blessed one who could taste this Pulungari prepared in the Puthucode temple during my childhood days and we prepare this regularly in the house. But you have to taste it in the temple during the navarathry.
    vaidyanathan, Hyderabad.

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