The cuisine of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu is all about bringing together a variety of flavours in a wholesome meal that is both filling and delicious. The state has a wide variety of vegetarian, non-vegetarian and vegan dishes that include extensive use of rice, legumes, coconut and lentils as well as some souring agents like tamarind and spices and herbs like mustard seeds, curry leaves etc. It is from this state that the South Indian hot favourite idli originates. The soft, fluffy, round fermented rice cakes are served with flavourful vegetarian lentil curry sambhar and coconut chutney. Idli has a number of variations and all the versions of these rice cakes are objectively delicious. One such version of the idli is the podi idli- idlis served with a spicy condiment called mulagapodi powder.
Gunpowder or Podi Powder: A Unique Condiment
Also known as molagapudi or milagadi podi, this powder is a mix of ground spices, coconut, chickpeas and roasted lentils that is served with idli. The version of idli is known as gunpowder idli or podi idli and is particularly popular with spicy-food lovers. Podi or gunpowder can be added to dosas, uttapams and other South Indian dishes as well. The dry powder can be a substitute for wet chutneys and most households in Tamil Nadu usually stock gunpowder in their kitchen cabinets, for use with a number of dishes. Podi powder can be purchased from stores as well, but making it at home will give you a better quality of powder, as grinding spices at home lends a more intense flavour to the dish that the powder is added to.
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Podi requires just a handful of ingredients, which can be ground together in a regular electric grinder and stored in an air-tight container for further use. Chickpeas, black gram, tamarind pulp, desiccated coconut (dried, ground coconut meat), dried red chillies together with salt are all the ingredients that make this recipe complete. Some people even add sesame seeds in the ground powder.
Click here for Chef Niru Gupta's full recipe of mulagapodi powder or gunpowder, and detailed information about ingredient quantities.
How To Use Mulagapodi Powder
There is not any particular way to consume podi powder but some people eat it as a moist paste mixed with sesame oil. To make the paste, diner can take a teaspoon of the powder on their plate and then make a crater in the middle of it. Into this hollow space goes the oil, which is then mixed well with the powder. This paste can be used as a dip or spread for dosas and uttapams (flat rice batter cakes). Alternatively, you may simple sprinkle the podi on the South Indian dish of your choice.