Milagai Podi in Tamil means Chilli Powder. It's a very common spice accompaniment to several south Indian breakfast foods including dosas and idlis. In northern India it is commonly known as "gun powder" because of its spice levels.
Every household in south India has their own version of the powder, a formula arrived at taking into account individual spice and taste preferences. Once made, this powder can be stored for as long as 6 months in an airtight container.
1 cup Channa Dal
2 cups Urad Dal/ Split Black Gram
3/4 cup dried Red Chillies (or according to taste, depending on how spicy you'd like it)
10 Curry Leaves
10 cloves Garlic
1 tsp Oil (vegetable oil is fine)
1/2 tbsp Asafoetida
Salt, to taste
In a heated saucepan, roast the lentils for a few minutes. Add the red chillies and curry leaves and continue to roast until the lentils turn golden (about 7-8 minutes). Add the oil and continue stirring and roasting for about 4-5 minutes.
Turn off the heat, but leave the pan on the stove. Add the garlic, asafoetida and salt and do not stir. The heat from the lentils will slowly roast the garlic. Wait until everything has completely cooled down.
Grind to a medium-fine powder in a spice or coffee grinder. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
A typical way to eat it is to add a heaped teaspoon to your plate. Make a well in the center of the powder and drizzle in some oil. With your finger, incorporate the powder into the oil (mix it around). Dip the dosa or idli into the powder and eat!
I make a non-spicy version for my daughter by leaving out the red chillies and adding curry and cilantro leaves. This recipe can be completely personalized - add or subtract ingredients at will! Here are some recipes on my blog that would be great with this powder:
Savory Kozhakattai, Neer Dosa, Pesarat, Akki Roti and Tomato Dosa.
For more from the recipe marathoners check:
DK, Siri, Srivalli, Ranji, PJ, Curry Leaf, Medha, Priya, Bhawna, Raaji, Ruchii, Kamala, Roopa, Divya Kudua, Rekha, Divya, Lakshmi, Raaga, Lakshmi, Sripriya, Viji, Kamalika, Pavani, Karuna and Roochi.