Idly podi - A kind of 'spicy hot' powder prepared in South Indian house hold and stocked up for a quick side dish for Idly. Usually it is mixed with sesame oil while serving. Otherwise, the host will serve the podi along with idly. The guest is expected to make a small indentation in the center of the (heaped) podi to allow the host to pour some sesame oil in it. Then the guest can mix it with the oil using the index finger and start tasting the idly by dipping it in 'podi ennai' (podi mixed with oil).
I have seen many people mixing the oil and podi in a separate bowl before serving. This too holds good.
There are many ways to prepare a Idly podi. I am describing a more flavorful method adopted in my house. This is my mom's version. But after marriage I started adding tamarind to it as per my hubby's grandma's method. I think adding tamarind is a deep South trend and it makes the podi more tasty and versatile (see my tips below for other uses of podi).
To make 1/4 kg Idly podi (approx):
Channa dhal (Kadalai paruppu)- 100 gm (1/2 cup)
Urad dhal (black gram) - 100 gm (1/2 cup)
Dry red chilly - approximately 20 to 25 numbers
(I used Indian long dry red chillies )
(Reduce chillies if you need a lesser spicy version)
Curry leaf - 2 sprig
Tamarind - 2 inch (optional)
salt - to taste (untreated sea salt is best here)
garlic - 4 cloves
Asafoetida (hing / Perunkaayam) - 2 pinch
Heat a wok and dry roast the curry leaves till they turn crispy. Keep aside.
Again heat the wok. Add the urad dhal and dry roast till we get a nice aroma with the dhal turning mild red. Take it out immediately.
Now start roasting the channa dhal, garlic, tamarind and take it out as the dhal turns mild red.
Now add the salt, red chillies. Dry roast till the chillies loose all the moisture and becomes crispy. Add the hing and switch off immediately.
(Adding the salt with red chillies prevent us to get the hot flavors. Otherwise we may start sneezing. So roast the chillies at the end along with salt).
Put the roasted chillies along with the others above and let them cool completely.
After they get cooled, grind them to a medium fine powder using a coffee grinder / mixer. Store in air tight container (even at room temperature). Holds good for more than a month or two.
Idly podi is ready!
Serving suggestions / tips:
Take a tbsp of podi, mix well with enough sesame oil / ghee and serve as side dish with Idly or dosai.
The fresh podi tastes more always. So prepare them in small batches according to need.
Idly coated with this 'podi-ennai' (podi+oil) tastes great and makes a good packed lunch for long journey. It won't get spoiled for a day.
The podi can also be mixed with cooked rice and a drop of ghee as main course meal.
We can use this podi in making side dishes like poriyal also.