The Chutney with a Bang

Gunpowder for your inner Rajinikanth and Maa Anand Sheela.

Rituparna Roy

Most of us have that one South Indian friend at work who invariably brings idli or dosa for lunch. You will not find anyone complain, especially when that lunch box also has an orangeish-red chutney. Ask your friend and find him or her sing a song about one of the most popular condiments down south. 

Call it molaga podi, milgai podi or milagu podi, it is South India’s answer to Maharashtra’s shengdanyachi chutney. In Tamil, 'molaga' means chillies and 'podi' means powder. Also known as gunpowder owing to its fiery colour and spicy kick, this one is a heady blend of lentils, sesame, basic spices like red chillies, coriander and asafoetida and sometimes dry tamarind powder or rock salt. Typically served with idli and dosa, molaga podi is tossed with rice with a mild tempering of mustard seeds and curry leaves with a drop of sesame oil or ghee. Its crunchy texture when coated on soft, buttery idlis means comfort food for many. The best way to enjoy it is by making a well in the centre and pouring some ghee or oil into it. 

Here's LF's Milgai Podi recipe:

The Chutney with a Bang

There is no standard recipe to molaga podi with every state having its own version. Even each household or family boasts of their own traditional blend. It is usually considered a dry chutney, however many recipes call for semi-dry ingredients too. The crunch, which is crucial to gunpowder, is achieved by dry roasting the lentils and spices on low heat followed by coarsely grinding them. It can be stored in airtight jars in room temperature up to two weeks or so. 

While lentils are rich in protein and fibre, sesame seeds are known for being an excellent source of good vitamins and protecting cardiac health. Not to forget asafoetida, which helps in reducing flatulence. 

Also Read:

How South India uses Rice Beyond Idlis and Dosas

Recipe for Molaga Podi 


½ cup Chana dal 
½ cup Urad dal   
10-15 Byadgi chillies or depending on your spice preference   
2-3 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tsp vegetable/ sesame oil
A pinch of asafoetida
½ tsp sugar or jaggery (optional)
Salt to taste


1. Take a kadhai and maintain low heat while dry roasting each of the lentils separately. 
2. Roast the sesame seeds and keep aside. 
3. Now roast the red chillies and keep aside. 
4. Let everything cool down completely. 
5. In a mixer-grinder, put all the roasted ingredients. Add asafoetida, sugar and salt.
6. Grind coarsely as crunch is crucial when you take a bite.
7. Enjoy your podi with hot idli or dosa by adding some ghee into it. 

Also Read:

Different Chutneys that are Perfect for Dhokla

Image Courtesy: Shutterstock


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