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May 1, 2020

For the Love of Podis - Chutney Powder

It's been a month since my ammamma (maternal grandmother) passed away.  The last time I visited her in India, I could already tell her health had deteriorated. She was barely able to move around and was mostly in her wheelchair or in bed. Although I am sad that she is longer with us, I know she is at peace now.  

My ammamma was a storyteller, a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter.  Although she was a housewife, she was very knowledgeable about the world, very sociable, and a philanthropist.  

I will miss her stories, our conversations about cooking and recipes, and our Telugu/English lessons. 



I found the video above of my ammamma cooking while I was looking through all of my photos and videos. This is how I want to remember her. She enjoyed cooking and helped my mom in the kitchen whenever she had time. In the video above, my ammamma is roasting spices and lentils together to make chutney powder. 


Chutney powder is a mixture of various spices and dal (lentil) that are roasted and then coarsely powdered. We use chutney powder as a condiment for idli, uttapam and dosa. It is also one of the ingredients for making the stuffing for Gutti Vankaya (stuffed eggplant)




You can also add it as a seasoning when making vegetable curries. I sometimes add this spice mix when I'm making baked penne pasta with vegetables. It adds more flavor to the pasta dish.

So you see, chutney powder is one of the essential podis found in a South Indian kitchen. Below are the ingredients that we need to make this podi (or spice mix):

Left to Right: Urad dal (black lentil), Coriander seeds, Channa dal (Indian chickpea), black peppercorn, dry Tamarind, dried red chilies and in the center are cumin seeds

Ingredients
- 2 cups coriander seeds
- 1.5 cups urad dal (black lentil)
- 2 cups channa dal
- 1/4 cup Cumin seeds (Jeera)
- 12 dry red chilies
- 1 Tbsp black peppercorn
- small lime size of dry Tamarind
- a handful of curry leaves (optional)
- 2 Tbsp salt (or per your taste)
- 1.5 Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- 2 Tbsp oil (or per your taste)


Procedure
  • The dal (lentils) and spices have to be roasted in a particular order. 



After you roast the channa dal (Indian chickpea) and then ural dal (black lentil), you have to roast the spices in the following order:

Now add coriander seeds, dried red chilies, tamarind (see the quick tip), cumin, and lastly black peppercorn. 
  • Roast the spices and lentils for about 15 to 20 minutes on low-medium heat.


  • When you start to smell the aroma of roasted lentils and spices, turn off the heat, and let the mixture cool down. After it cools down, grind it coarsely with salt and brown sugar. Adjust the salt and sugar accordingly to your taste. 
  • The chutney powder is now ready to be used any way you like. The ingredient quantities above are enough to make 940 grams or about 2 pounds. If this quantity seems like a lot, just reduce the measurements by half for your comfort level. We make it in large quantities and store it so we can use it whenever needed. 

Quick Tips:
Sometimes you will find fiber strings in the tamarind. It is best to remove these before using them.

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