A Spicy Tale


A friend recently called me to enquire about our homemade recipe for Milagai Pudi.

Molagai podi as some call it, is our indispensable South Indian spice powder accompaniment for idly and dosa. Milagai Podi comes handy when you are not in a mood to prepare an elaborate sambar or chutney to go with idly and dosa.  However, sambar and chutney are my first choice.

There are varieties of mulagai podi available in the market and comes in different flavors. The homemade is always special.

In hot oil, fry mustard seeds, split white lentil, split bengal gram, sesame seeds and lots of dried red chillies until golden brown. Add asafoetida, salt and a small quantity of jaggery. Grind the mixture and milagai podi is ready.

You will notice the house smells great with delicious aroma as you grind the mixture.

The traditional milagai podi seems to be forever in stock at home. Like salt and pepper the yin and yang of condiments, Milagai pudi and idli are made for each other.

Salt and pepper have helped to build civilisations, driven empires and used as currency in olden days. Milagi pudi with dosa and idli have kept families united and fostered a sense of community from time immemorial.

There is a simplest and most enjoyable way to savour this recipe. Smear idlies with sesame oil, coat each idly with milagai pudi on both sides, wrap in a banana leaf and further in an old newspaper. Tie the bunch with a jute string. Marinate for three hours.

When it is time to savour, untie the jute string and gently open the pack. Separate the old newspaper and the idlies along with the banana leaf.  Read the newspaper and enjoy the idlies at the same time. It is a delightful experience.

It also makes a perfect lunch especially while travelling. It is easy for the stomach and you will not regret.

You may now complete the meal with a perfectly balanced South Indian filter coffee.

During my school days, a cobbler was a regular visitor to our house every sunday.  Resting under the shade near the gate, he will routinely ask us to feed him some lunch. A bowl of curd rice with lemon or mango pickle will make him happy and consume to his heart’s content.

One such sunday afternoon while serving his bowl of curd rice, he unabashedly asked for Milagai Podi as accompaniment instead of the routine pickle. With two generous scoops served, he thoroughly enjoyed the lunch.  He thanked us and later walked away.

I was tempted to try this out during dinner.  Curd rice with Milagai podi.  The balance was perfect and complement each other so well. Another yin and yang born that day.

And I have stuck to the combination to this day.

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