Pulikachal and Puli Chadam (Puliodharai)

On the suggestion of DH, I finally decided this will be my first food entry on the blog. Inspired from my mom’s version, and then I improvised it – (which I feel) tastes close to the one we have at weddings etc …. J

So, heres the pulikachal first.

Pulikachal (Spicy Tamarind Sauce)

Whenever I make pulikachal, it’s usually in a large quantity so that it lasts for around a week or more. That way, it stores well for at least 2-3 weeks in the fridge …. as it is well-preserved with its ingredients itself.

Pulikachal is used to make Puli Chadam or Puliodharai – Tamarind rice …. But it goes well as a side dish with curd rice, dosai etc … one of my friends likes spread on bread – like jam …. But a word of caution to first timers, this sauce is really spicy and hot … so a small amount goes a looong way … J

Now I get going with the recipe.

Tamarind: about 2 lemon-sized balls or use 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
Turmeric powder: 1 teaspoon
Salt: as per taste
Jaggery (Gud) or brown sugar: 2 teaspoons (if not available, use normal white sugar)
For the tempering (tadka):
Cooking oil: 4-5 teaspoons
Mustard seeds: 3 teaspoons
Black gram split (Udad dal) 2 teaspoons
Bengal gram split (Chana dal) 2 teaspoons
Dried red chillies: 2 (broken into halves)
Peanuts: 2 tablespoons
Green chillies: 5-6 (chopped fine) – may be varied as per the heat level you can take
Ginger: 1 inch piece (chopped fine)
Curry Leaves: 4-5
Asafoetida (hing): ½ teaspoon
Red chilli powder: 1 teaspoon– may be varied as per the heat level you can take


For the powder: (Instead, you can also use 3-4 teaspoons of the dosai molaga podi – powder used as chutney with idlis/dosas)
Dried red chillies: 5
Black gram split (Udad dal): 2 teaspoons
Bengal gram split (Chana dal): 1 teaspoon
White Sesame seeds (Til): 2 teaspoons



  1. Dry roast the ingredients for the powder individually. The chillies need to be roasted till slightly browned. The dals (split grams) should be roasted individually till they are a golden brown and a lovely aroma wafts J. The sesame seeds (til) should be roasted till it slightly browns and the seeds begin to pop. Keep each of them aside separately on a plate/bowl to cool.
  2. Once cooled, grind them to a coarse powder in a coffee/spice grinder or the chutney jar of a desi mixer grinder.
    Note: Suggest roasting and grinding them separately as time required for the ingredients vary. If roasted together, the finer ingredients might char. If they are ground together, the powder would be inconsistent with the dal not ground well and the sesame seeds as a mushy mix. To save time, you may grind of batch of the two dals and another batch of the chillies with the sesame seeds. Any extra powder can be stored for a month or so.
  3. Soak the tamarind in water and extract all the pulp. If using tamarind paste, dissolve in 6 cups of warm water.
  4. In a deep pan – kadhai (wok), heat the oil. Once it heats up, add the mustard seeds. When they begin popping, add the rest of the ingredients for the tempering in the listed order, except the red chilly powder.
  5. Roast till the peanuts and dals are a golden brown. Stir occasionally to ensure even roasting.
  6. Now, take the red chilly powder in a small bowl and add some of the roasted tempering and oil to it. Mix well so that the red chilly powder is slightly roasted as well. (You may skip this step and directly add the chilly powder to the kadhai in step 8. However, the aroma and taste is enhanced by this step.)
  7. Add the tamarind pulp to the kadhai.
  8. Then, add the chilly powder and rest of the tempering back to the kadhai.
  9. Add the turmeric powder and the ground powder.
  10. Mix everything well to avoid lumps and make a smooth paste.
  11. Leave the mixture on high heat to reach a boil.
  12. Then, reduce the heat to medium and let the tamarind cook and reduce. This reduction could take about half an hour or more.
  13. The pulikachal is done when it is thick like honey. Now, add salt and jaggery. (Preferably, add salt and jaggery at the end. This way, the amount required is lesser and the nutritive elements are not lost. Also, we have a better idea of the amount required than in step 9.)
  14. Mix well and turn the heat off. Leave it to cool. The mixture gets thicker and the flavors set in better over time.
    It can be refrigerated and stores well for 2-3 weeks or so.
  15. Puli-Chadam (Puliodharai) – Tamarind Rice:

    Once you have the pulikachal ready, making the puli chadam is a snap! The rice turns out well if the rice is cooked just right – with separate fluffy grains. For this, use two cups of water for every one cup of rice. With rice and pulikachal ready, the rest is only a process of mixing – no cooking required J

    Approximate Proportions for Mixing:

    Cooked Rice: 1 cup
    Pulikachal (spicy tamarind paste): 2 teaspoons
    Sesame oil: 1 teaspoon (optional)

    Spread cooked rice on a plate to cool for best results. Mix the ingredients well, but carefully so that it doesn’t end up mushy. Your puli chadam or puliodharai is ready!! Serve with your choice of papad and curd.

    Tip:- If you feel the spice level is on the higher side, you may try varying the amount of paste as per the level of spice and taste required.


3 Responses to “Pulikachal and Puli Chadam (Puliodharai)”

  1. After reading the entire blog, I literally did a slurp :-). I’ll try it out. Hope it tastes the same as it did when reading

    From skribles: Thanks for the generous comment – Do try it out 🙂

  2. we do not add green chilli. If we add is the pulikachal will be for 1 week.

  3. Our iyengar family does not use green chillies or ginger in making pulikachal

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