Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mulagai Podi (Dry Sesame & Lentil Chutney/Dip)

Mulagai Podi is a dry chutney that is mixed with oil/ghee and is used as a dip for dosa, idli, adai, upma, etc. Mulagai Podi means literally chili powder; but this is obviously more than just ground chilies. Traditionally dosa, idli, etc are served in homes simply with this podi and oil/ghee. Amma often packed a lunch of dosa or idlis rolled in mulagai podi mixed with a little oil - they tasted so wonderful that my friends often wanted a share of my lunch :).

I am amazed yet again to find so much similarity between Indian and Japanese cuisines. Their furikakes are similar to the Indian chutneys and curries; in fact Mulagai Podi is a close cousin of the Japanese sesame salt, gomasio. Mulagai Podi is delicious sprinkled on buttered toast, vegetables, or steamed hot rice; some people I know (who shall remain anonymous ;}) even sprinkle it liberally on their pizza!

Roasted Urad dal, Sesame seeds, Red Chilies, & Asafoetida chunk; Salt

Often called Dosai Mulagai Podi to differentiate it from plain ground chilies, it is easy to make and makes a nice table condiment to spice up any food you like. There are many variations of it and some include other ingredients such as roasted chana dal, curry leaves, cilantro, tamarind, etc. This is one of my favorite versions and since it includes a goodly amount of sesame seeds (ellu), it is sometimes called Ellu podi. Every sprinkle of this delicious podi boosts the protein content of your food since it contains both sesame seeds and urad dal (a type of legume).

Mulagai Podi


1/4 cup white or tan colored Sesame seeds
1 cup white Urad Dal (skinless)
5 to 9 Dry Red Chilies, break into 2 or 3 pieces
1 small pea-sized lump Asafetida or use 2 pinches of the powder type
1 tsp Sea Salt or to taste


Roast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant; they will start to pop a little like popcorn. Remove from heat and let cool on a plate. If left in the skillet, the residual heat will overcook or burn them.

Roast the dal, chilies, and the asafetida in the dry skillet until the dal is golden brown. Let cool.

Grind all the roasted ingredients using a coffee grinder with the salt in batches - the texture of the finished podi should be like brown sugar - slightly gritty but without any whole dal.

Mix well and keep in an airtight jar in a cool cupboard.


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