When I am too tired or busy to cook or not in the mood to whip up something from scratch, podis come to the rescue!
‘Podi‘ is Tamil for, literally, ‘powder’, and there are many, many types used across South India. A typical Tam-Brahm kitchen will be stocked with different types of such powders – dosa milagai podi (also called ‘gunpowder’), thengai podi (coconut powder), karuveppalai podi (curry leaf powder), sambar podi (sambar masala powder), paruppu podi (lentil powder) and rasam podi (rasam masala powder) are some examples.
My kitchen is no exception. I maintain a steady stock of at least three to four varieties of podi to help me through tough days. The best part is that these podis are usually multi-purpose – they can be used in several different ways. In short, they make life easier and keep things interesting, too! 🙂
Amma is the podi expert in our family, perfect with measurements, converting anything and everything into delectable powder form. She’s the one who keeps my kitchen stocked with these podis, mostly, to be honest. Lately, I’ve been learning from her how to make some of the beautiful powders that she does, trying to understand her methods, her tips and tricks. The latest lesson from Amma was in making Thengai Podi, a powder made with dried coconut and lentils, the recipe for which is what I am going to present to you today.
This thengai podi is an absolute delight to eat when mixed with piping hot steamed rice and ghee. It goes extremely well, mixed with oil or ghee, with idlis and dosas. It is just perfect for making Open Butter Masala Dosa, that Bangalore-special version of dosa that I adore. I also sprinkle some thengai podi over South Indian curries and variety rice, which adds a lovely zing to them.
Here is how to make the thengai podi, Amma’s way.
Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):
- 1-1/2 cups grated dry coconut
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/2 cup urad daal
- 1/2 cup chana daal
- 14-15 dry red chillies, or to taste
- 3-4 tablespoons jaggery, or to taste
- A small piece of tamarind
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the urad daal and chana daal.
2. Dry roast on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the daals begin to emit a lovely fragrance and start turning brown. Stir intermittently to prevent burning.
3. Now, add the dry red chillies and grated dry coconut to the pan. Stirring intermittently, fry the ingredients on medium heat till the coconut turns brown. This should take 2-3 minutes. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn.
4. Switch off flame and transfer the ingredients to a plate. Allow to cool down completely.
5. Meanwhile, remove any seeds or strings from the tamarind piece and tear it into small pieces with your hands. Put the tamarind pieces into the hot pan, with the flame still switched off. They will become crisp in a few seconds.
6. When fully cool, transfer the roasted ingredients to a medium-sized mixer jar. Add in salt to taste, asafoetida and the jaggery. Add the roasted tamarind to the mixer jar too.
7. Pulse the ingredients together for a couple of seconds, then scrape down the sides of the mixer and mix the ingredients with a spoon. Pulse again for another couple of seconds. Again, scrape down the mixer sides and mix. Pulse again a couple of minutes. Repeat this proceedure a few times, till you get a free-flowing, coarse powder.
8. When the powder has completely cooled down after grinding, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight box. Store at room temperature and use as needed.
- I have used store-bought dry coconut powder here. Alternatively, you could buy whole dried coconut and grate it at home, too.
- Typically, dried coconut powder is used to make this thengai podi, and not fresh grated coconut. Fresh coconut tends to clump together while making the podi, but dry coconut powder makes for a free-flowing podi. I know of some people who use fresh coconut to make thengai podi, too, but in our family, we have always made it with dry coconut powder.
- This powder stays well for a week to 10 days, if stored in a clean, dry, air-tight box at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Use only a clean, dry spoon to remove the thengai podi from the box.
- The thengai podi can be mixed with oil and served with idlis and dosas, or consumed with hot steamed rice and ghee.
- In our family, we use coconut oil to roast the ingredients required for the thengai podi. You can use refined oil or ghee instead, too, but I personally prefer using coconut oil.
- Some people skip the tamarind and/or the jaggery in this thengai podi. We add both, since we love the slightly sweet, slightly tangy taste that these ingredients add to the podi. Let your taste buds dictate the quantity of jaggery and tamarind you use in the thengai podi.
- Roasted curry leaves can be added to the thengai podi, while grinding, too. I have skipped them, though.
- I used a mix of the fat, round Guntur chillies and the thin, long Bydagi chillies to make this thengai podi. You can use any variety of dried red chillies that you prefer. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies you use, depending upon the heat in them and your personal taste preferences.
I hope you will try making this thengai podi too, and that you will love it! Don’t forget to let me know how you liked it!