Every family has its own little secret recipe for podis and powders which make their food taste different and better than others. They are made with few basic kitchen spices and is a must for South Indian dishes as it does make a difference in taste and texture of the dish. Typical Tamilian homes, instead of using chili powder and dhania powder separately ,substitute with this podi /mixed gravy powder (Kalantha Milagai Podi). In some homes its just a combination of dry red chili and coriander seeds, while some include extra items to give good aroma and texture. Here is my family recipe for one such all-purpose gravy powder which we usually make in bulk and store for up to a year. The key ingredients are sun dried for few days and then dry roasted in huge kadais and then sent to mills to get it ground to a fine powder. Then its air-dried for few hours and stored in air-tight boxes sealing tightly.
I’ve given the recipe for bulk and as well as in cup measures. For not so fortunate friends who do not visit home town that often could use this recipe to make a small batch using a dry mixie. There’s always a difference in texture when ground at home, the dry mixie has only got limited capacity or power to grind the ingredients and will look coarse how much ever you grind. Whereas the mill ground podi will have fine soft powdery texture which gives rich colour and thick gravy consistency.
This powder can be used for Sambar, Kaara Kuzhambu, Pulusu, Meen Kuzhambu, Kurma Preparations, Varuvals, Dry Gravies, Poricha Kuzhambu, literally any recipe which calls for red chili powder and dhania powder.
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|¼ kg||Dry red chili (long)|
|¾ kg||Dry coriander seeds|
|100 g||Black pepper corns|
|100 g||Cumin seeds|
|100 g||Split red gram / thuvaram paruppu)|
|50 g||Fenugreek seeds|
|25 g||Turmeric powder|
|25 g||Curry leaves|
|50 chilies||Dry red chili (long)|
|1½ cup||Coriander seeds|
|¼ cup||Split red gram / thuvaram paruppu)|
|¼ cup||Black pepper corns|
|¼ cup||Cumin seeds|
|1 tablespoon||Fenugreek seeds|
|1 teaspoon||Turmeric powder|
|10 leaves||Curry leaves|
For Bulk Batch: Ingredients under table-1, Sun dry each item separately except curry leaves and turmeric. Then dry roast one item at a time (except turmeric) until they release nice aroma, they should bear the colour (shown above) when roasted. Let cool and then send it to the mill for grinding along with the pack of turmeric to mix. When they are back, spread on a newspaper and air-dry for few hours. Then store in air-tight boxes.
For Small Batch : Ingredients under table-2, Dry roast each item in a plain tawa or pan except turmeric. Roast them until the colour turns to light brown or aroma awakens. Let cool and then grind them using an Indian mixer mate or dry coffee grinder in small batches. Use turmeric while grinding and spread the ground powder on a paper to dry or cool. If its too coarse then i would suggest you to use a sieve or jalladai to filter the big ones and grind them again. Cool them before storing in air-tight boxes.
- Spice level can be adjusted according to your family needs, this one is definitely very spicy as it includes chili and black peppercorns. Turmeric and curry leaves are optional and can be added directlly when cooking.
- Normally would add 3 teaspoons of this powder, for a dish which serves 2 (approx) substituting the related items.
- Some kuzhambu powders include bengal gram but we personally ignore as it makes the gravy too gooey. Addition of Toor dal ensures thick gravy and helps to increase quantity if feeding a large family.
- If you are in India or other hot climate places then you can dry the spices outside in the sun. Otherwise just dry roast over a tawa, let cool completely before grinding.
- Yield: Small batch would yield about 1.50 cups (approx) of Kuzhambu Powder. This could last about 2 months depending on use. The bulk will yield roughly 1 kg of powder.