Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A plate of Pulihora

Reading time ~ 5 minutes
Recently our homestead had Pulihora for a birthday (not mine).  It was finished up by evening.
Pulihora can be plain or extra flavored with raw mango or with crushed roasted sesame or with ground mustard.  I make ours mild with slight changes to suit our lifestyle and taste, such as: soaking the peanuts overnight- it makes them more nutritious and less allergy inducing. Using oil sparingly while cooking but sprinkling with olive oil in the end- has never affected the taste.  Using Basmati rice- less starch per serving and looks nicer.  I use tamarind from India, especially for special dishes because the one over here is dark and gives a strong blackish-brown color.  Interestingly, the batch I now have is organic, is exceptionally good and the juice exudes all the goodness of bioavailable vitamin C.  The ginger use is heavy without overpowering- it  can certainly fulfill the daily requirements of an adaptogen even for a T-Rex!  Lastly there is  lots of  turmeric- oozing all the goodness of the antioxidant value it carries.

No feast or festival is complete without the Pulihora in AP, whether in Kosta, Rayalaseema or Telangana.  Dainty and delicate, it is a favorite of all age groups.  Though sometimes frowned upon because of its omnipresence, it is certainly appreciated after one leaves home.  Oh, and it is different from the Puliyogare, its other south Indian cousin. 

Some tides, summers and supernovas ago, the in-laws had visited for the first time.  We all went out for the day on a Saturday.  It was late in the evening when we stopped for dinner at an Italian eatery.  It was a first with this cuisine for two people in our group.  Fettucini Alfredo, which can be unusual to the palate of coastal town-ers of AP, was tasted by the Fa-inlaw.  After the first spoonful his eyes searched and spotted the black pepper on the table.  He sprinkled it so that the creamy white Fettucini Alfredo became...... black!  We were all tired and intent on food so after eating-

Umm, I think it is unusual to sprinkle that much pepper... I said, sort of.
He was genuinely surprised.  Why, is it wrong? he asked, concerned.
No, no, nothing wrong, I replied
Just that it is somewhat nice to eat a cuisine in the way that culture would perhaps like us to. My reasoning sounded weak even as I said it.

A few days sprinted.  One day, I went to an Indian graduate students potluck lunch.  After I came back I casually mentioned to the Mo-inlaw that I saw another girl (wife of a fellow student who was Gujarati) help herself to Pulihora on a plate and earnestly pour Sambar over it before eating.

The Mo-inlaw was shocked.  Her jaw dropped.
Now I understand. Now I understand, she declared.
What what what? I asked, surprised
What you were saying then- it is nice to eat each cuisine in their own way!
She was still stunned at the unintended sacrilege of the mighty Pulihora when she said to the Fa-inlaw-
No sprinkling with pepper like that again, ok? If they make their food bland like that, we will have eat it like that only.

Even after some summers and moons had passed, the Fa-inlaw still chuckled about the time he made a black Fettucine Alfredo.



  1. Cute post :) Glad you have such understanding in laws!

    Thanks to being Iyengar and inflicted with it every week, I must admit the Basmati rice and ginger that you used in your recipe look like they might make the dish slightly more interesting, albeit not quite as authentic.

  2. B: What a luxurious infliction! And, Thank you :)