A popular travel food in the past was Tamarind Rice | Pulihora | Puliyogare. Upgrade this recipe to the modern age by using sticky rice (a special type of rice) to make it like a granola bar that you can wrap and take with you on trips.
Why – A tamarind rice bar?
In the olden days, as a South- Indian family, when you travel in trains or go for long journeys, you packed tamarind rice. But you needed a vessel to carry it, a serving spoon to dole it out, plates and spoons to eat it and then wash and transport the original vessel back. But…What if you could transform the tamarind rice into a bar, how cool is that? You could squish all those travel requirements into a teeny, tiny bar. Whoa…Is your mind sufficiently blown??
My inspiration for this bar comes from the Korean recipe – Yaksik. It uses sticky, glutinous rice as a base. Since the rice is sticky by itself, you need not use any sugar/honey solutions to bring the grains together like a traditional granola bar.
True story – When we flew to Japan a few years ago, our airline did not have any vegetarian meals available. We snacked our way through the journey with soy bars and some juices. When we landed in Tokyo, my husband got a sticky rice triangular snack (called onigiri) with a plum pickle inside. When we bit into it, we felt like we got our lives back. Nutritionally, though I am often critical of rice, when it comes to comfort-food and soul-nourishing capability, rice still reigns supreme.
Points to Remember:
Here are the things you need to remember about sticky rice:
1. Sticky rice is also called as sweet rice or glutinous rice (there is no gluten in it, the name come due to its stickiness). It will be available at your local South East Asian grocery store or you could check in Amazon.com. To my knowledge, it is not available in Indian stores.
2. It is a short grain rice. It needs very less water – usually 1:1 ratio
3. Traditional Korean methods involve soaking and steaming the rice. But, you don’t have to steam it, you can also use pressure cooker. Just 2 whistles and then turn it off.
4. Use plastic wrap to avoid the bar sticking to the paper. Once the bar cools down completely, it automatically pulls away from the paper.
Step by Step pics
Soak sticky rice overnight and drain it
Get all spices ready for tamarind rice
Add oil to the cooker and saute spices
Add tamarind water – use around 1:1 ratio. I used 1.75 cups of tamarind water for 1.5 cups of sticky rice.
Ad the drained rice, close cooker and cook for 2 whistles. Switch it off and let it rest.
Open after pressure is released.
Add roasted spice powder to the tamarind rice and fold into the rice carefully
Pour the tamarind rice into a rectangular bowl lined with plastic wrap. I used parchment paper below in the photo, but I have tested plastic wrap which is even better.
Wet your hands, in-between spreading the rice to avoid the rice sticking to your hands.
Wrap top also, and cool completely in refrigerator.
Once it is cool, cut it into rectangular shapes. Dip the knife in water in between cuts to get a clean cut.
Wrap individual bars and refrigerate for up to 4-5 days
- 1.5 cups sticky rice
- 2 lemon ball sized tamarind
- 1.75 cups water
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon urad dal split and husked black gram
- 1 teaspoon chana dal split and husked bengal gram
- ¼ cup peanuts
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- a pinch of asafoedita hing
- 10 to 12 curry leaves
- 4 to 5 dry red chillies
- salt as required
- 2 dry red chillies
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoon chana dal split and husked bengal gram
- 1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Soak sticky rice overnight and drain it.
Soak tamarind in water for 20 minutes. It should not be too thick like a pulp, more like the sambar style consistency.
Heat oil to the cooker and add mustard seeds. After it pops, add other spices listed under 'Tempering' and saute well
Once the spices are well tempered, add tamarind water
Add (soaked and drained) rice, stir, close cooker and cook for 2 whistles. Switch it off and let it rest.
Saute items listed under "Spice powder" individually until brown, powder and keep aside.
Add spice powder to the tamarind rice and fold into the rice carefully
Pour the tamarind rice into a rectangular bowl lined with plastic wrap. Use wet hands to spread the rice evenly without it sticking to your hands.
Stick it into the refrigerator for an hour. Once it is cool, cut it into rectangular shapes. Dip the knife in water in between cuts to get a clean cut.
Wrap individual bars and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
Tip - Wet knife in-between cuts to avoid the stickiness of the rice.
I am sure you can make other rice variations of these bars, but I have only done Tamarind Rice and Chakkarai Pongal bars with sticky rice till now. You will have to figure out other options yourselves.
I think this will also be a good option for those who travel to/from India to other countries often, but hate airline food. Note – Since this bar has water content, it will last 2 days of airline travel, but no more. Unlike an oat granola bar which is held together with sugar/honey and oil, this rice bar is held with tamarind water. Hence its shelf-life is limited, unless you freeze it.
Have you tried sticky rice before? Share your thoughts, comments down below. As always, I love hearing from you!!
My favorite tamil blogger with her version of tamarind rice