Tamarind Rice (Khatte Chawal)

Mom’s indeed are the best cooks in the world. Not because they cook gourmet food but they make normal food taste like gourmet food and that too in minutes. Khatte chawal (this is what my family calls it), known as pulihora/puliodare/puliyogare in south India is tamarind flavored rice with a tempering of nuts, lentils, and spices. This tangy rice is a common prasad at most of the south Indian temples.

This is not an authentic pulihora recipe but this is one of the best I have eaten apart from the ones at temples of course.

The taste and color of this dish depends a lot on the quality of tamarind. To get the best results, clean and soak the tamarind in water for 2-3 hours. It will be easier to get the pulp out. You can also add cashewnuts, urad dal, and grated coconut too. My favorites in this dish are the fresh curry leaves, asafoetida, and just a hint of jaggery.

My mom prepares the tamarind mix in advance and then it is just a matter of minutes to turn plain white rice to tangy and yummy south Indian delicacy. You can store the tamarind mix in fridge for up to a month.

This is a great travel food too. It tastes equally good when it is cold. Try to mix the rice couple of hours in advance before eating.


Serves 2

  • 2 cups cooked plain rice
  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp asafoetida (heeng)
  • 3-4 green chillies slit
  • 4-5 dry red chillies broken
  • 15-20 curry leaves
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 2 tbsp groundnuts
  • ¼ cup tamarind
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp jaggery
  • Salt to taste


Soak tamarind in ½ cup water for 1-2 hours. Mash the tamarind thoroughly using fingers and pass this paste through a sieve. Keep aside. This recipe requires a thick pulp so add as less water as possible.

Heat oil in a non stick pan or a kadhai. Add mustard seeds. Once the seeds pop, add curry leaves, green chillies, dry red chillies. Let them cook for around a minute. Add the chana dal, ground nuts, and asafoetida. Sauté and cook for 1-2 minutes till the dal and ground nuts are lightly browned. Be careful not the burn the dal and the nuts or they will taste bitter. Add the tamarind pulp, salt, red chilli powder, and turmeric powder. Mix well and let this cook on low flame till the oil floats on top (around 6-8 minutes). Keep mixing in between. Let it cool down a little.

Mix few spoons of the tamarind mix at a time in plain rice. You can add more or less mix in the rice based on your taste. If you like the rice sour add more mix. You can store the left over tamarind mix in fridge for upto a month.




Namak Para (Indian Savory Pastry)

Namak Para (Indian Savory Pastry)

Namak para is a popular savory tea time snack. It is a part of the variety of sweets and snacks made in marwadi homes during Diwali. This fried Indian pastry seasoned with cumin and carom seeds is a favorite with tea. My mom makes this snack in batches of huge tin boxes as every one at home loves to have them with the morning tea. This used to be a popular travel snack whenever we travelled. Namak para with lime pickle is an awesome combination.

The crunch of this snack should be like a pastry and that calls for ghee or butter to be added in the dough. You can use oil too but I like it light, flaky, and buttery. The basic rule of pastry applies with namak para too. Add all the dry ingredients before adding butter. Use cold butter and work quickly using your finger tips for a lighter pastry. The flour should resemble bread crumbs. If the fat you are adding is hot, it will absorb more oil while frying and the namak para will be heavier. Add cold water and add as less water as possible and add it gradually.  Do not over knead the dough. After you rest the dough, just knead it lightly.

You can make namak paras in any shape. The diamond shape is the most popular one in India. Fry the namak para on a slow or medium flame. Cumin and carom seeds are the most common flavours. You can experiment with other herbs too like kasuri methi or even oregano. Coarsely ground black pepper can be added for a hint of spice. Namak para can be stored in an airtight container for 3-4 weeks. These can be served with tamarind chutney or lime pickle.

Namak Para (Indian Savory Pastry)


  • 1 cup all purpose flour (maida)
  • 1 tbsp semolina (optional)
  • 4 tbsp Oil/butter
  • 1 tsp salt (you can add the salt as per taste)
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • ½ tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
  • Ice cold water
  • Oil for frying


Lightly pound the cumin and carom seeds. Mix the all purpose flour, salt, cumin and carom seeds. Rub the butter using finger tips. The flour should resemble bread crumbs. Add little cold water at a time and knead stiff dough. Cover with a damp cloth and keep aside for 15 minutes. Knead again lightly and divide the dough into four portions.

Roll each portion to a 1/8cm thick circle. Cut into desired shape. Diamond is the commonly used shape. Heat oil in a kadhai or a deep pan and fry the namak para on slow flame till they turn light brown on both sides.

Cool and store in an airtight container.



Thepla is a smaller, thinner, and healthier Gujarati cousin of methi ka paratha. It packs in all the goodness of fresh methi (fenugreek) and coriander leaves with whole wheat flour and not maida. Spread some chunda, jam, chutney, roll it and voila you have yummy food on the go.

Board a train to Gujarat and you are more likely to see four out of five people eating thepla with dry aalu curry, onion, chunda and tea. Since the shelf life of theplas is 3-4 days, it’s the preferred travel food of Gujaratis and they will be more than happy to share them. Theplas are a regular breakfast item at my in laws’ place and I always eat them to my heart’s content.

While tea lovers swear by the thepla and tea combination, it goes well with aalu sabji, garlic chutney, green chilly chutney, chunda, or plain yoghurt. I like them with yoghurt and the garlic chutney. You can find the recipe of Garlic chutney here.



Makes 25 theplas

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbsp besan
  • ½ bunch of methi leaves cleaned and chopped
  • 8-10 stalks of coriander cleaned and chopped
  • 3 green chillies
  • 4-5 pods of garlic
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tbsp coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • Groundnut oil or any other cooking oil to cook the theplas
  • Water to knead the dough


Grind chillies and garlic to a coarse paste. In a large mixing bowl, add flour, methi, chopped coriander, besan, chilli garlic paste, turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, oil and salt.

Add water and make a soft dough. Divide the dough into 25 portions; roll into balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the balls into thin rotis (appx 6 to 7 inch).

Heat the griddle (tava) and place the thepla on it. Cook for about 30 seconds and flip. Brush with some groundnut oil and flip. Brush the other side with some oil and flip again. Cook thepla on both sides by pressing and flipping the thepla (like parathas).

Don’t flip the theplas very frequently or they’ll get hard/crispy.