I grew up not knowing anything about spice powders but made up for it as soon as I got married. My mom-in-law would make many different kinds of spice powders that could be eaten with rice or as an added taste enhancer with some of the “kuzhambu” varieties. I haven’t seen this trend of eating rice with spice powders in North India. It seems to be exclusively a South Indian thing.
Earlier these spice powders were made by women for the days when they had their periods so that the men in the house could manage by just making rice. There is also a whole range of health benefits to these spice powders especially as you age – your ability to deal with tamarind or very sour stews/sambars reduces and these spice powders come in handy.
There are five different spice powders that I have in stock always and one day of the week, Krishnan and I just eat rice with ghee and any of these spice powders. Note that my mother refuses to eat any of them :). She needs watery flowing curries and will not eat anything dry !
Today was our day of eating with spice powders and also the day that I made a fresh batch of three spice powders. Here are the recipes for all five of these spice powders –
- Coconut spice powder – 1/4th cup Urad dal (Whole), 1 TBSP of Chana Dal, 1 TSP of Red Chilly powder, 1 TSP of Salt, 1/2 Cup grated coconut (Copra). First dry roast the urad dal and chana dal – I sometimes use a few drops of oil, but usually I only dry roast. First grind the roasted dals to a coarse powder, then add the salt, chilly powder and grated coconut. Grind it finely. You can increase and decrease the quantity of salt and chilly powder according to taste. Also I use a packed 1/2 cup of grated coconut. This powder comes in handy when you make non-dal kuzhambu and also while making Puliyodharai (Tamarind rice).
- Paruppu Podi – This is the Andhra style Senagala Pappu Podi, not the TamilNadu variety. Four to six cloves of garlic after removing their outer skin, 1/2Cup of Roasted Bengal Gram (pottu kadalai), 1 TSP of red chilly powder, salt to taste. In the mixie jar, I put the garlic cloves in the bottom and then put the roasted bengal gram, chilly powder and salt on top. Grind it to a fine powder. Krishnan and I eat this with rice and ghee – its a comfort food for us.
- Curry Leaves Powder – Karuveppalai podi. 1/4 Cup -Arhar Dal, 1 TSP Red chilly powder, 1/2 Cup packed curry leaves that have been dried, if fresh, then lightly roast them in oil, salt to taste. Coarsely grind the dal first and then add the rest of the stuff, grind it to a fine powder. This is packed with nutrients as the curry leaves are a powerhouse of nutrients. Eat with rice and ghee. Can be added to Sambar/Puliyodharai to enhance the flavour.
- Peanut spice powder – This is a Maharashtrian spice powder and my friend Geetu gave me the recipe for this. 5 to 7 cloves of garlic with their skins removed, 1/2 Cup of dry roasted peanuts, 1 TSP of red chilly powder, salt to taste. Grind all of it to a coarse consistency. This can be eaten with Jowar/Bajra rotis and we use it on bread even and Krishnan can eat this with practically anything. I also love this spice powder !
- Karimathu Powder – This is my mom-in-law’s recipe. This powder is used while making some of the vegetables. 1/4 Cups of Urad Dal and Chana Dal each, 1/2 Cup of Coriander seeds, 1.5 TSP of red Chilly powder. Dry roast the dals and coriander seeds. Grind all of the above together to a fine powder. I use this while making “kootu” or some of vegetables like beetroot, sweet potato etc.
Do share other spice powders that some of you make … Indian food is so fascinating !!