Milagaipodi/ Molagapodi a.k.a Gunpowder - Mixed Lentil Chutney Powder (GF, V)
This is a coarse chutney powder made of lentils, dried red chillies and asafetida, and to be found in most Palakkad Iyer and Tamil kitchens. Also pronounced as "Molagapodi" by us, it is popularly known among the rest of the non-Tamil Indians as “gun powder” because of its level of spice from red chillies (milagai/ molagai) in it. Home-made versions are usually less spicier and when it is mixed with oil the spice levels are less discernible to the tongue. Milagipodi/ molagapodi is best eaten with idlis though it is excellent with dosas as well.
Traditionally, Milagapodi is made with split black gram lentils(urad dal) and split Bengal gram lentils (chana dal) in a 2 or 3: 1 ratio. However, one can add small amounts of other lentils to the mix if one chooses to. There would a minor difference in taste but would still be nutty and just as tasty.
What lentils I use usually depends on what I have in stock when I'm making Milagaipodi, but mostly I use a combination of split black gram lentils (use 1/2 white and 1/2 black skinned varieties if possible) , split Bengal gram lentils, whole mung lentils and white sesame seeds.
To serve, take a large spoon of the chutney powder and add spoonfuls of oil, as required. Mix to a thickish flowing consistency.
The ultimate combination would be idlis with Milagaipodi. For me personally, if Milagaipodi is the choice of accompaniment with idlis, dosas and a variety of other South Indian Tiffins/ breakfasts and I would never miss the usual chutneys or sambhar.
Our daughter loves this just as much. In fact, she almost always adds a bit of sugar to the milagaipodi and oil which my husband refers to as Akshaya’s “concrete”!!! He prefers his idlis and dosas with chutney or sambhar, though.
Traditionally, we use either sesame seed (gingelly) oil or “varutha ennai” (fried oil - direct translation) for Milagapodi. Varutha ennai is oil left over from frying pappads or other food and is never reused for frying. It has an interesting flavour. Regular cooking oil is just fine, too.
- Dry roast the sesame seeds till they start popping. Keep aside. Similarly, dry roast all the dals, separately, till light brown. While the last dal to be roasted is almost done add the chillies and asafetida. Allow to cool.
- Dry grind all the ingredients together with salt to a somewhat coarse powder. Store in airtight glass or steel containers.