This Ugadi Celebrate With An Authentic Telugu Feast
Image Credit: Punugulu | Image Credit:

Growing up in southern India, Ugadi mornings meant waking up bleary-eyed to be slathered in castor oil head to toe and awaiting your turn to be bathed in the hottest water you ever bathed in with shikakai being scrubbed to take off the grease of the castor oil. Ugadi mornings meant red eyes, new clothes, and delicious food. For the adventurous among us, it also meant climbing mango trees in the garden or in the neighborhood and plucking out the freshest, greenest leaves to string together in a torana. There were more tree-climbing tasks – finding neem trees, and finding flowers in them that weren’t already plucked by other kids in the neighborhood who were also tasked with the same. The success of finding those flowers paradoxically sweetened the bitter neem flowers we were meant to consume with jaggery to symbolize the inescapable sadness that may be part of any new year. Over the years, though, there has been no ‘hanDe’ of scalding water heated by wooden logs; shampoos have taken over shikakai; and apps that deliver mango leaves and neem flowers to your doorstep have replaced any need to climb trees that are anyway not there. Thankfully, though, the food remains. And for that, we are grateful.  

A traditional Telugu Ugadi meal is a huge spread. Here, we offer you some of our personal favorites.  

1.    Pulihora

This might seem like puliyogare, a Kannadiga dish, but it is not. There are slight variations, and it is a little easier to make as well.  

Taste: Spicy, tangy 

Prep time and cook time: 1 hour 45 minutes 

Calories per serving: 260 


    1.5 cups of rice 

    1 tbsp cooking oil (sesame oil works best) 

    A pinch of turmeric powder 

    Salt as needed 

    4 tbsp of thick tamarind pulp 

    Jaggery as needed 

    Half tsp of mustard powder 

    For tempering – 2 tbsp oil, half tsp mustard, 1 tbsp urad dal, 1 tbsp chana dal, a few peanuts, 2 red chilies, 2 green chilies (according to heat tolerance), half tsp ginger, 2 sprigs of curry leaves, and a pinch of hing 


Cook rice the usual way, making sure that each grain is individual and not stuck to each other. Roast the mustard seeds lightly, powder them, and keep them aside. Alternatively, you can also use sesame seeds, but do not use both. Get a cupful of tamarind pulp after soaking it for an hour in a bowl of water.  

Take some oil in a pan and heat it. Add mustard, peanuts, chana dal, and urad dal. Fry until peanuts turn golden Add curry leaves, green chilies, red chilies, and ginger. Add hing, then tamarind pulp, some jaggery, and salt. Mix well and cook until the mixture congeals and the oil separates. Now add the cooled rice and mix well. Sprinkle some sesame powder or mustard powder and serve, preferably with curd.  


These little balls of sweet heaven are a must for your Ugadi celebrations.  

Taste: Sweet 

Prep time + cooking time: 5 hours 

Calories per boorelu: 280 


    1 cup chana dal 

    2 cups of water 

    1.5 cups of jaggery 

    30 g of grated coconut 

    A pinch of cardamom powder 

    To make batter for outer shell – ¾ cup urad dal, 1.5 cups of raw rice, a pinch of salt, oil for frying


Before beginning anything, soak rice and urad dal separately for 5 hours. Next, cook chana dal with water – ensure that the dal is not cooked to a mushy consistency. Mash the dal with hand or blender. Heat the jaggery to make syrup and add this syrup to the mashed dal. Add coconut and cardamom powder at this stage. Cook well until the water evaporates completely and the dal comes together as a mass. Next, divide this into small balls of equal size. To make the outer covering, take all the ingredients described above and blend until a smooth batter with the same consistency as dosa batter forms. Next, dip the poornam balls into this batter, ensuring that the balls are well covered. Then drop them in hot oil and fry for two to three minutes. Your poornam boorelu are ready to be served to God and your family! 


After the feast, take a long nap. Feel refreshed. But of course, a snack craving kicks in. And the best solution comes in the form of punugulu.  

Taste: Savoury 

Prep time + Cook time: 20 min 

Calories per serving: 180 

You are likely to have idli or dosa batter at home. Or the batter that you had made for punugulu. That batter works just fine here. If the batter is too runny, you can add powdered poha or rice flour or semolina. Adjust the consistency as required and add cumin, chopped chilies, ginger and onions to the batter. Heat oil in a kadai. Shape the batter to round balls with your fingers and drop them in the hot oil. Fry till golden and crisp. Serve hot with your favorite chutney as an evening Ugadi snack! 

Andariki Ugadi shubhaakaankshalu!