What is Tamarind Rice?

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  • Written By: Leonardo Von Navorski
  • Edited By: Daniel Lindley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 October 2019
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Tamarind rice is an Indian dish eaten around the world. The rice dish's primary seasoning is tamarind, although it's often seasoned with sesame, coriander, curry, and chilies. Other common ingredients in tamarind rice include peanuts, butter, and oil. The rice used for tamarind rice is usually long grained, such as basmati, jasmine, or Carolina rice, although one can use short-grained rice instead. The dish has a slightly sour and tangy taste, but is also somewhat sweet and spicy.

Some tamarind rice recipes also include ingredients such as mustard seed, shredded coconut, fenugreek seed, and grated jaggery for sweetness. The ingredients, with the exception of tamarind, may be experimented with and substituted to fit one's tastes. When one cooks tamarind rice, the long-grained rice is prepared normally, and the tamarind is often combined with the seasonings and crushed to form a smooth paste. The paste is then combined with the finished product. Tamarind rice is also known as pulihora, which roughly means sour rice.

Tamarind, which basically translates as Indian date, is a tree indigenous to Africa. The leaves of the tamarind tree are not used in the dish; instead, the pulp of the fruit is used. Tamarind is incorporated in many other dishes as well, including chutney. It's also included in seasonings such as Worcestershire sauce. In India, tamarind is employed as a pickling agent and a natural laxative.


An alternative to using tamarind fruit ground to a smooth pulp or paste in the dish is to use tamarind extract. Although the extract does not provide the well-known texture and consistency of traditional tamarind rice, it does largely replicate its sour, sweet, tangy, and spicy flavor. Tamarind extract is sold in many grocery stores and marketplaces around the world, although one may have to turn to a specialty shop to purchase the extract in some regions.


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