September 10, 2009

Pulikyatchal (A Spicy Green Chilli-Ginger-Tamarind Chutney)

t the beginning of this month, I had posted a picture of a festive meal (sadya) served on a plantain leaf. One of the items on that leaf was "Pulikyatchal". This is very spicy chutney that is served and eaten like a pickle (Indian style). In Kerala, this is also known as "puli-inji" or "inji-puli" bith meaning ginger-tamarind.

The name "pulikyatchal" comes from two words, "puli" meaning tamarind and "katchal" from "katcharadhu" meaning to cook. So as you would have figured out, this chutney is basically made by cooking finely chopped ginger and green chillies in tamarind pulp till it is quite thick in consistency.

This chutney is another one of those preparations which is daily fare yet our festive meals are incomplete without it.

You will, once again, find numerous variations of this recipe depending on who is making it. There are versions which include shallots/ onions and others which do not use ginger (or green chillies).

This particular version is how it is made in our family and it is very much Palakkad Iyer fare. The amount for each ingredient is indicative so feel free to adjust the amounts to your taste.
Make your adjustments such that your chutney is quite spicy (and salty) with a very strong sour note and the jaggery should just add a hint of sweetness while balancing out the spice and the tang.

Pulikyatchal (A Spicy Green Chilli-Ginger-Tamarind Chutney)


a large lemon sized ball of tamarind

about 2 to 3 tbsp finely chopped ginger

3 to 4 green chillies, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 sprigs curry leaves

3 tbsp powdered jaggery (or more)

salt to taste

For tempering:

3 tbsp sesame seed oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp Bengal gram lentils (chana dal)

1/4 tsp asafetida powder


Soak the tamarind in about 3 cups warm water for about half an hour. Using your fingers, rub the tamarind well in the water and then squeeze out as much pulp as possible. Throw away whatever residue is left of the tamarind and keep the tamarind pulp aside.

In a deep pan (or wok), heat the sesame seed oil. Add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, add the lentils and sauté till they're golden in colour. Turn down the heat to medium and add the asafetida powder and the curry leaves. Stir a couple of times and add the chopped ginger, green chillies and turmeric powder.

Sauté for about 5 minutes till the ginger turns soft. Add the tamarind pulp, jaggery and salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat a bit further, and simmer till the mixture thickens to the consistency of a chutney and you can see a bit of oil on the surface.

Take off  the heat, cool and bottle. This recipe makes a small jar of chutney and will keep for over a month.
Serve with rice and plain yogurt or dosas.

As Sra pointed out in the comments section, this chutney can be added to cooled, cooked rice along with peanuts pan fried and browned with a little oil and mixed well to make Tamarind Rice/ Puliyodharai.

Thanks for all those comments. Let me further clear up the confusion.
It is correct, as pointed out in the comments section, that "puliyodharai" (a kind of tamarind rice) does not have ginger in it, and this is not the tamarind chutney that is used to make it.
I just wanted to say that one could make a tamarind rice of sorts by mixing this chutney with rice.


Lakshmi Venkatesh said...

Looks very tangy and very tempting.

Try to participate in Think Spice - Think Red chillies event going on in my blog.

Kitchen Flavours said...

Oh the flavour of ginger cubbed with tamarind....looks yummy....

sra said...

I always thought this was the name for the preparatory mix for tamarind rice!

Aparna said...

Sra, this can be used to make tamarind rice too. I'll update my post with this info.
But in Kerala (except perhaps in our community) tamarind rice is not usually prepared and this chutney is eaten with rice, like pickles would be.

Nithya said...

This looks perfect.. yummm.. I always love this with rice :)

Happy cook said...

I dodn't think i have ever had this, while readingthe post my moth was wattiering, the thought of puli

pigpigscorner said...

Great flavours! I'm addicted to tamarind now and have been trying out different recipes with tamarind!

Vani said...

i gotta try this! saw it on varsha's blog as well. sounds like a delightful chutney.

Cham said...

Pulikachal is referred to Tamarind rice mix in Tamil Nadu, except the ginger use! Very handy to keep the mix around, lovely recipe!

Priya Narasimhan said...

aparna..this is my favourite..i had puli inji in my office canteen during onam special lunch and eversince fell in love with it..i will try your version soon....

Jayashree said...

I love puli inji....can eat it with pretty much anything. This onam, i made enough puli inji to last us for months.
Pulikachal, though is quite different. That is what is used to make puliyodharai....not puli inji.

Sunshinemom said...

This is one thing I really love and I make tamarind rice quite often using this:)

Suma Gandlur said...

I have to try this version.Though the ingredients used are almost same as in Andhra's ginger chutney, the similarity ends there. We never cook the ginger and tamarind.

anubhavati said...

Hi Aparna,

Loved your description. In my place, we have this particular Pulikachal for as a Pachadi or as a side for Molagootal. This has the spice and the tanginess and the tart sweetness from the jaggery to balance out the slightly bland Molagootal.
The other variation that we make for Puiyodharai has no ginger. Tamarind, red chillies and loads of spices.

Aparna said...

Cham and Jayashree,
Thanks for pointing out the difference between pulikyatchal and puli-inji.
In Tamil nadu, pulikyatchal is made without ginger and used to make tamarind rice (puliyodharai).
In Kerala, puli-inji is made with ginger, but used like a pickle and tamarind rice is not a dish made here traditionally.
In my community, we make puliyodharai without ginger, and pulikyatchal, usually with ginger though the version without ginger is also made.

Yes this is excellent with mulagootal. But "puli pachadi" we usually make for mulagootal is different from this pulikyatchal.
And yes, we use the gingerless version for tamarind.

I think I need to do a puliyodharai post separately. :)

Curry Leaf said...

I was thinking that it was puli inji itself.Have heard the name but never tried it.I love tangy dishes

arundati said...

i love pulikyatchal.... haven't tried making it on my own tho.

Nags said...

my mom (in law) makes a mean pulikaachal. my god, that was my first taste of it and it rocks!

Lata said...

Bet it tastes good with anything.You are right do the puliyodaharai separately. Would love to know that version as well.

Chitra said...

HAve tried once by adding green chilly but adding ginger is new to me..WIll try :) looks mouthwatering :)

Srivalli said...

Oh God, I royally confused...:) you mean to say your folks call this Pulikyatchal but don't use it for making the tamarind rice, have another recipe for making it. Though you also mix this with rice and eat! didn't understand...heheh..hope I confused you further too...:)..

whatever aparna, your pictures are lovely as usual..and I am sure the chutney was too..I tasted puli inji on Onam made by Prathiba from Ammani' was yum! I am sure it is very tasty..

Indhu said...

wwoww.. this looks sooper yummy.. and yeah.. I am sure it would taste great with some rice and some chips on the side... am actually salivating when I type this :)

Aparna said...

I'm not surprised. I guess I confused everyone. Its just that the differences are well known to me, so I assumed........ :)