Living in Consciousness ~ Indi(r)a’s Food and Garden Weblog

Baby Aloo in Tamarind-Chilli Sauce (Aloo Pulusu)

We lose by generalizing everything. Unity and showing strong front is important but preserving the diversity and maintaining our own uniqueness is also equally important, I think. Indian cuisine is such a broad term. Can anyone say they know all the regional food varieties of India? I guess not. If we don’t talk about our regional cuisine, who will and how would anyone know about the difference in our cooking. I see lot of new Indian food blogs coming up everyday. Generalize to your heart’s content, but don’t be shy to highlight your regional specialties. That would make the recipe more attractive to the readers and give them the feeling they are trying out something unique, in my view.

See, for example, from India - we go to Andhra Pradesh, my home state in India. Though the general term is Andhra cuisine, there are 3 regions (Rayalaseema, Kosta and Telengana) and each region has its own specialties. Lot of diversity out there, even in one state. Example is this recipe. Cooking vegetables like potatoes etc., in tamarind-chilli sauce is the specialty of Kosta (Coastal region) of Andhra. They call this Tamarind-chilli sauce “Pulusu“. It is the base sauce for all kinds of vegetables, in that region. The saying is, “give something to kosta people, particularly the Nellore district, they would find a way to add tamarind to it”.

The ‘pulusu‘ tastes like as if ‘old western’ kind of faction war happened between tamarind and dried red chillies. To compensate the sourness of tamarind, more hot chillies are added. Unbridled war wages on between these two strong tastes and there is no mediator to calm it down. Thickening agents like coconut or peanut paste are big no or rarely used. The pacifier of course is the poor vegetable that is added. How high this war can go on, which one dominates the taste of ‘pulusu‘ - it all depends on housewife’s mood that day. Imagine sucking on a lime wedge and simultaneously eating a dried red chillie - that’s how this pulusu tastes. You are alerted so prepare it at your own risk.

Boiled Baby red potatoes, Tamarind juice, tomatoes, dried red chillies, cumin and garlic


8 to 10 baby potatoes
1 medium sized onion and 10 to 12 cherry tomatoes - finely chopped
For sauce:
1 cup of tamarind juice - (medium thick - home made version)
6 dried red chillies+3 garlic cloves+1 teaspoon of cumin - Make a smooth paste of them.
1/4 teaspoon of turmeric and salt to taste
Popu or tadka ingredients:(1tsp of each, cumin, mustard seeds and few curry leaves)

Boil potatoes in water, just until tender. Remove them and strip the outer skin. Prick the potatoes in multiple sites with a fork so that they can absorb the sauce.

In a big pan or kadai - heat one teaspoon of peanut oil. Do the popu or tadka (toast mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves). Saute onions and tomatoes for few minutes until they soften. Stir in red chilli paste; saute it for few minutes until it leaves the raw smell. Add the tamarind juice and another cup of water. Stir in salt and turmeric and also the pricked potatoes. Cover and simmer them for about 15 to 20 minutes on medium heat, stirring in between. Wait until the sauce reaches the consistency of thick lava. Turn off the heat, and serve the pulusu with chapatis or with rice and ghee.

Baby Potatoes in Tamarind-Chilli Sauce (urla gadda pulusu
Baby potatoes in tamarind-chilli sauce and chapatis

I’ve added a tablespoon of powdered jaggery to this curry, forgive me my dear Nellore friends and readers. I know you will sneer at me, I know it is a big no-no, adding any kind of sweetener to the curry. But my poor body won’t tolerate that kind of slow burning heat.

This is my entry to “The Spice is Right - Ancient Spices” food blog event, started and hosted by my favorite food blogger, very talented chef Barbara of Tigers and Strawberries.

Posted by Indira©Copyrighted in Amma & Authentic Andhra, Dried Red Chillies, Baby Potatoes (Wednesday April 12, 2006 at 1:25 pm- permalink)

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23 comments for Baby Aloo in Tamarind-Chilli Sauce (Aloo Pulusu) »

  1. Stunning ! love the combo . A must try for me. I love hot and spice food and i think iam going to avoid jaggery this time. I saw some packets saying Grade B or Grade A potatoes that looked similar to the one it the first pic. IS it the same ?

    Comment by priya — April 12, 2006 @ 1:28 pm

  2. Thanks Priya.
    For authentic version, no sugar or jaggery is added, it tastes super good.
    The potatoes I cooked for this recipe are small baby red potatoes. Here at our local grocery shop, we get them loose, we can pick them out from a pile.

    Comment by Indira — April 12, 2006 @ 1:36 pm

  3. I was wondering how thick the sauce would be but in your pic it seems quite thick..It looks like some thickening agent is added but I guess while adding potatoes the sauce automatically becomes thick…right?

    Comment by BDSN — April 12, 2006 @ 1:43 pm

  4. Hi Indira,

    I do all kind of pulusu….like bottlegourd,bittergourd,brinjal,okara,small onion…..but never heard of this one.I should buy this week small allo…I am going to prepare this one next week.I will let u know my experience.

    Thanks for the recipe.Your recipes are so delicious and looks good and tempts to prepare.

    Comment by srilaxmi — April 12, 2006 @ 1:45 pm

  5. Hi BDSN, for tamarind rice, we cook the tamarind juice quite thick, right? Just like that here. No thickening agents are added. I like to cook it until it reaches quite thick consistency, that is my preference but some people prepare this sauce quite watery, also.

    Hi Srilaxmi, thanks!
    If you try, let me know how you like it.

    Comment by Indira — April 12, 2006 @ 1:47 pm

  6. I am sucker for tangy tasting food….

    Chustu unte notlo neellu oorutunnayi Indira…

    Comment by Santhi — April 12, 2006 @ 1:56 pm

  7. potato pulusu looks yummy Indira. I come here to visit ur site everyday looking for something yummy recipes and here I find them more than what I want thanks for ur recipes Indira.

    pulusu tapakunda try chesta

    Comment by tanuja — April 12, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  8. Hi Indira,

    I have been reading your recipes for a while, and you are doing a fantastic job.

    We call this dish karam pulusu. We do add eggs in the pulusu instead of potatoes. The side dish is mashed potatoes curry.

    Comment by Rita — April 12, 2006 @ 3:57 pm

  9. Hi Indira- Sounds delicious with all the tamarind and red chilies. My kinda food! Now is it possible to eliminate garlic?

    Indira replies:
    I guess you can do that, Mika. I think garlic can give the dish more edge.

    Comment by mika — April 12, 2006 @ 4:20 pm

  10. Hey Indira,
    Urlagadda pulusu is very nice.May be ur mom also will cook like my mom i think.

    Comment by vineela krishna — April 12, 2006 @ 6:36 pm

  11. Hi Indira,
    Mouth watering……..looks pretty hot too……I can’t wait to try it myself. I like the addition of jaggery since it balances the tangyness and the heat from chillies.

    Comment by Madhu — April 12, 2006 @ 6:39 pm

  12. What an awesome recipe, I’m certainly going to be giving this a try!

    It’s interesting, all the diversity within a country. Even here in the US I am always amazed at local specialities. I didn’t realize this until I moved from my home and because of that I miss all the favorites that are only available in my hometown.

    Comment by Jenn — April 12, 2006 @ 11:40 pm

  13. chustu vunte tinnala annipistundi Indira

    Comment by Lakshmi — April 13, 2006 @ 9:18 am

  14. Hi Indira,

    Though I’ve been visiting website regularly for quite sometime, this is the first time I am leaving a comment.

    I really like your site. Especially the step-by-step pictures. For novices like me they are real helpful. I get inspired to cook when I look at the pictures, they are so appetizing !:)


    Comment by SNP — April 13, 2006 @ 11:55 am

  15. My computer crashed yesterday as I was leaving a comment, so I don’t know if you will get this twice.

    This looks yummy! I make this with eggplant. Didn’t know it was called pulusu.

    I got this image of tamarind and chillies standing in a western saloon with guns drawn out and some clint eastwood movie background music playing!! LOL. good one Indira :)

    Comment by Saffron Hut — April 13, 2006 @ 2:01 pm

  16. Hey Indira–

    here is a link, thought you and your blog readers might like.


    Comment by Deepa — April 13, 2006 @ 2:18 pm

  17. I add jaggery to my pulusu too.:)

    Comment by sailaja — April 14, 2006 @ 4:07 am

  18. I visit these pages by you all the time .
    Whenever I feel like eating my mum food , I come here read thru your pages …co relate the same what my mum did prepare ..and start doing myself.
    We are all truly grateful for the effort you are making to preserve our Indian (especially Andhra Pradesh tradition ) .
    Many thanks to you Mam . Truly , on seeing this Baby aloo recipe I got water in my mouth..and also tears in my eyes that I am missing my home land.
    You keep us connected.

    With Respects,
    Andhra Pradesh.

    Comment by Sandeep — April 19, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  19. Great comments about generalization.

    Wonderful photos…I’m getting hungry…


    Indira replies:
    Thanks J!

    Comment by jasmine — April 19, 2006 @ 10:42 pm

  20. My husband spent most of his time in India in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal so most of the dishes he makes are based on those he ate in those places. But every once in a while, he branches out and makes something more southern - using tamarind or coconut milk. I adore the pungent taste of tamarind and am thrilled when he uses it.

    And your potato dish looks delicious! Many thanks for posting it. We’ll definitely have to try it. (And no need to apologize for adding a bit of jaggery to a curry. I was under the impression that it is quite common to add a little sugar, especially when the curry is hot.)


    P.S. Your chapatis look perfect.

    Indira replies:
    That’s interesting to know. South and north Indian cooking styles are different little bit and West Bengal has its own famous cuisine and array of sweets.
    My Nellore friends don’t even touch the curry, if they knew I added sugar. Adding any type of sweetener to curry is a big in that area. Like kiiling the authentic recipe, that kind of major blunder for them. That’s what I was refering to in my apology.
    Give it a try, but reduce the chilli hotness to your liking. It tastes really good and this is a very classic recipe from our area.
    You are too kind, thanks Elizabeth.

    Comment by ejm — April 20, 2006 @ 1:01 pm

  21. Love your site…Keep up good work.

    Comment by Shyamala — April 20, 2006 @ 2:30 pm

  22. Hi most of the times to thicken the soup for such PULUSU dishes add tea spoon of rice flour liquid 5 mins before u remove from stove. When the rice flour mixes get cooked it swells and becomes thick gravy.

    Comment by venkat — September 24, 2006 @ 12:44 pm

  23. Hi Indira

    I came across your recipe while trying to find a version that would not be too hot to eat.
    I was following a similar recipe from a book by Mridula Baljekar and suspected that there was an error in the recipe as it indicated the inclusion of 25gm/1oz of dried chillies to 450gm/1lb of potatoes.
    I however reduced this to approx. 10gm but still had it in my mind that this was far to much.
    I completed the recipe and served it up as an accompanyment to the main meal.
    My wife was first to try the attractive looking potato dish but her face was a picture as she tried to cool down her burning lips.
    Needless to say the Raita became very popular following this tasting and none further was tried.
    Being Scottish we tend not to eat very spicy foods, therefore, when I try your version of this recipe I think I just may cut back a little further on the chilli content.(I will be adding jaggery/sugar)
    My thanks for posting this recipe. I look forward to giving it and some of the others a try.
    Kind Regards
    Bill Hutchison
    (Glasgow, Scotland)

    Comment by Bill Hutchison — September 26, 2007 @ 11:58 am

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