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Among the Indian families I knew growing up, it was often said that my mom made the best pulihara around. Well, it’s true, and I finally got around to asking her to make it while I took pictures and wrote down the recipe.

She was none too thrilled at having to Measure All The Things, but I told her that we were trying to write this for people who might never have seen the stuff before. I mean, you definitely don’t want people guessing that they should use a tablespoon of asafoetida (hint: if you can taste more than a hint of it, you’re doing it wrong).

Pulihara is a useful dish for many reasons. It’s easy, it’s tasty, it goes with both north and south Indian dishes, it keeps well, it’s good hot and at room temperature, it’s vegan and gluten-free if you’re into that sort of thing, and it’s always a hit at potlucks.

I will say that you’ll need to visit an Indian grocery store for a good portion of the ingredients, or get them online. To make it, you’ll need:

1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3T plus 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil, divided

For the tiragamutha:

2 tablespoons senaga pappu (channa dal)
1 tablespoon minapa pappu (urad dal)
1/4 cup raw cashews or peanuts
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
2 pinches asafoetida
1 fresh green chili pepper, slit lengthwise
2 whole dry red chili peppers

To finish:
1/4 – 1/3 cup lemon juice, to taste (as always, fresh is best, but bottled works fine here)
1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste

Cook the rice in the water. Let sit for about 5 minutes after it’s done, then turn into a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add 1/2 tsp oil and turmeric and fold until evenly yellow, taking care not to mush the rice.

In a small pan, heat oil on medium-high heat. Add mustard seeds. When they get to a good sizzle, add the tiragamutha ingredients and fry until mustard seeds pop.

Stir this mixture into the rice, then mix in lemon juice and salt.

Let sit for a few minutes before serving. Serves 4.