I have talked about the role of chutney, pickle and raita in Indian cooking over the past few months so now it is finally time to finish my series on Indian condiments. The last installment is dedicated to powders, or podi, which are mixtures of various spices that are roasted and ground then served along side of other dishes like Dosa, Idli and rice. They accompany these items to enhance their flavor. Sometimes they are mixed with a bit of oil that brings out the essence of the podi. Podis are also used as pre-made spice mixes for cooking dishes like sambar to save time.
My favorite Podis are:
Curry Leaf Podi – served with rice (in the white bowl)
Mulaga Podi – eaten with dosa and often mixed with a bit of oil (in the blue bowl)
Sambar Podi – used to make Sambar (in the green bowl)
The recipes for these podis are quite simple. The core ingredients of a podi is a mixture of different dals and spices to which a special ingredient is added, either curry leaves or dried red chiles. (One word of caution, the Mulaga Podi is really hot so you might want to reduce the number of chiles you add. It is called gunpowder for a reason.) All of these podis are available in Indian grocery stores ready for use. I prefer to make my own since the process is really easy and the flavor of fresh podis is far superior.
Check out my recipes for podi and enjoy!
One thing I have learned from writing this series of posts on Indian Condiments and then reviewing them with my family is that everyone has a definite opinion of which ones are the best, whether it is Red Chile Coconut Chutney versus Tomato Chutney, Shrimp Pickle versus Raw Mango Pickle, Onion Raita versus Cucumber Raita or Curry Leaf Podi versus Mulaga Podi. The correct answer to which is best is partly determined by the dish you are eating with it. Mainly it is determined by a person’s individual preferences and taste. So, there is no single correct answer, all are correct! Enjoy!
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