Recently, I posted a story on my Instagram handle about how I used the last of the precious few onions I had left to make my beloved Onion Uttappams. I had served them drizzled with Dosa Milagai Podi aka ‘gun powder‘, that hallmark of South Indian cuisine. The story had several people pinging me to ask for the recipe for the podi. Making a fresh batch of the powder had been on my to-do list anyway, so I went ahead and completed the chore yesterday, and also managed to click pictures of it for the blog. So, here we go.
What is Dosa Milagai Podi?
Anything in powdered form is referred to as ‘podi‘ in Tamil, while the term ‘milagai‘ refers to chillies. ‘Dosa Milagai Podi‘ is, hence, a powder made using chillies – dried red chillies – served as an accompaniment to dosas. By the same association, it is called ‘Idli Podi‘ as well.
Dosa Milagai Podi is a quintessential part of a South Indian home, along with several other such powders. Made using sesame seeds (ellu) and lentils, along with dry red chillies, this is an absolutely delicious thing.
Different families make the Dosa Milagai Podi with variations of their own. I’m here today to tell you how it is made in our family – with brown sesame seeds and Bydagi chillies, which gives it its beautiful orange-red colour. We also add in a bit of jaggery powder, for added flavour.
This podi is completely vegetarian and vegan, suitable to those following a plant-based diet. Skip the asafoetida used in the recipe, and you can make it gluten-free too. This is because most commercial brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to some extent. However, if you are able to procure gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely use it.
How to make Dosa Milagai Podi or Idli Podi
The detailed proceedure to make the podi follows.
Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):
- 1 cup urad dal (ulutham parippu)
- 1/2 cup chana dal (kadalai parippu)
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds (ellu)
- 18-20 dry red chillies (kanja milagai)
- 3/4 tablespoon salt (uppu) or to taste
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida powder (perungayam)
- 3-4 tablespoons jaggery powder (podi vellam) or to taste (optional)
1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan on high flame. Then, reduce the flame to medium and add in the urad dal and chana dal. Dry roast on medium flame for about 3 minutes, by which time the lentils will start to emit a lovely fragrance and start changing colour. Stir constantly to ensure that all the lentils get roasted evenly and do not burn.
2. Now, add the dry red chillies and sesame seeds to the pan. Mix well. Dry roast for about 2 minutes on low-medium flame. Switch off gas. Again, constant stirring is essential to ensure that there is no burning and that all ingredients come in touch with the heated pan evenly.
3. Allow the roasted ingredients to cool down fully, then transfer them to a mixer jar. Add salt, asafoetida and jaggery powder. Mix the ingredients up using a spoon.
4. Pulse for a couple of seconds, then stop, mix up the ingredients. Now, pulse again for a couple of seconds, stop and mix the ingredients again. Repeat these steps till you get a powder that is almost fine, with a few coarse bits. Your Dosa Milagai Podi is ready.
5. Allow the podi to cool down fully after the grinding. Now, fill it up in a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Store at room temperature, in a dry place. Use as needed.
Tips & Tricks
1. I have used split chana dal and whole white urad dal to make this Dosa Milagai Podi. You can use whole or split lentils to make this.
2. Some families use black sesame seeds to make this podi. I have used brown ones.
3. Adjust the quantity of salt, as per personal taste preferences.
4. I have used a mix of the hot Salem Gundu and the milder Bydagi dry red chillies to make this podi. You can use any variety of dry red chillies you prefer and adjust quantity as per personal spice preferences. The above quantities yield a medium-spicy powder which can be consumed by kids as well.
5. Garlic cloves, flax seeds, curry leaves, fried gram (pottukadalai), coriander seeds are some of the ingredients added in by some to Dosa Milagai Podi. We don’t. In our family, we make the podi as per the above recipe.
6. Adding jaggery powder is optional, but I would highly recommend doing so. The sweetness of jaggery adds a beautiful touch to the podi. In some families, sugar is used instead of jaggery.
7. Some advocate using a few drops of oil to fry the lentils, dry red chillies and sesame seeds separately, then grinding them together after the ingredients cool. I have, however, not used any oil here and have dry roasted all ingredients together.
8. Make sure the Dosa Milagai Podi cools down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. This can be stored at room temperature for a few months, but is best used within a month or so.
9. Make sure you don’t grind the roasted ingredients at high speed. Pulse, stop, pulse, stop, as stated in the recipe above. This will help you get a lovely, free-flowing podi, and will prevent it from getting all clumped together.
10. I have used rock salt here. You may use regular table salt instead, too.
11. You can grind the Dosa Milagai Podi as coarsely or finely as you prefer. I prefer keeping it very slightly coarse and not too fine.
12. Different families use different proportions of lentils and sesame seeds in the Dosa Milagai Podi. We follow the above proportions.
13. Ensure that you dry roast the ingredients for the podi as per the steps stated above only. Stirring constantly will help in all the ingredients evenly coming in contact with the hot pan and getting roasted evenly.
14. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while dry roasting. Therefore, use a heavy-bottomed pan only.
Different ways to use this Dosa Milagai Podi
In spite of the name of this podi, dosas and idlis aren’t the only things it is served with. The following are some ways in which it is commonly used in Tam-Brahm households.
- Mix some of the podi with sesame oil or coconut oil as needed, then serve with dosas or idlis.
- The sesame oil-podi mixture can also be coated on idlis. These idlis make for a convenient snack while travelling.
- Sprinkle some of this podi inside masala dosas, before placing the potato stuffing over it. This adds to the taste greatly.
- The podi can be drizzled on uttappams too, which makes them immensely tasty.
- This podi can be added to South Indian rice dishes like Tomato Bath, to flavour them.
- You can also use this podi to make sundal and poriyal.
- This podi can also be used while making Idli Upma with leftover idlis.
- It can be used as a stuffing in parathas too.
I hope you liked this post, and that you found it useful. Please do let me know, in your comments!