Idli Podi Recipe (Milagai Podi)
Idli Podi is a flavorful South Indian powdered condiment made with lentils, seeds and spices. Some versions use peanuts, dried coconut and curry leaves too for added flavor. While Podi is a general South Indian word that means “powder”, this specific spicy podi is known as Idli Podi because it is served with a popular breakfast – “Idli”, steamed lentil cakes. In this post I share a recipe to make unique super flavorful and delicious Idli podi that everyone will love!
About Idli Podi
Idli Podi is also known as Milagai Podi in Tamil, which translates to chili/spicy powder. The Tamil word “Milagai” means chilies and “Podi” is powder. Idli Podi is known by various names across South India such as Idli karam podi, gun powder & chutney pudi.
Usually this spicy condiment is served with hot idlis & a drizzle of unrefined sesame oil or melted Ghee. However it is very common for South Indians to sprinkle this over Dosa, Uttapam, Upma, Semiya upma, plain rice, Curd rice & Lemon rice.
Basically it is an all-in-one flavorsome spicy powdered condiment that’s going to add zing to your palate. This condiment is sheer delight with every bite since it is unique in every way – taste, texture & appearance.
When you are short of time to cook your meal, try the simple hack of mixing this coarse powder with steaming hot rice and ghee – It takes you to food heaven for sure!
Idli Podi is a South Indian invention & has three main ingredients. Raw lentils, seeds and red chilies (the hot the better). They are roasted to bring out the flavors, cooled and then ground to a coarse powder in a grinder.
The resulting reddish-brown powder is a tongue twister in every way. You’ll find different versions in different homes and even regional variations among the states.
My time-tested recipe is our favorite at home and it comes with so many variations you can try. Do check out the variations section below after the recipe card.
More of roasted dal gives you a milder podi while the use of Guntur chilies can set your tongue on fire. Some grind it to a fine powder. Other prefer a coarser crunch to it.
Some add curry leaves and even dry ginger during winters. Others keep it simple with only lentils, chili and curry leaves. You can swap sesame seeds with flax seed or peanuts, add coconut, garlic, tamarind, or even jaggery to suit your taste.
How to make Idli Podi (Stepwise Photos)
1. To make idli podi prepare the following ingredients:
- ¼ cup chana dal (Bengal gram)
- ¼ cup urad dal (prefer split, skinned split black lentils)
- ¼ cup sesame seeds
- 8 to 16 dried red chilies (or 1 to 1 ¼ tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, adjust to taste)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon Hing (asafetida, optional. I don’t use)
2. Here are the optional ingredients which are our favorite. These ingredients are going to take your podi to the next level.
- 2 to 3 sprigs curry leaves (optional, rinse and pat dry)
- 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- ¼ cup dried coconut (optional -unsweetened shredded coconut, copra)
3. Since the roasting time of each ingredient is different, you need to dry roast them individually / separately for best results. To a heavy bottom pan, add chana dal. On a medium heat, dry roast them stiring often until they change their color to light brown.
4. Roasting them on a high heat is only going to change their color fast without roasting them from inside. So it is important to roast on a low to medium heat. Transfer them to a plate when they change to light brown color.
5. To the same pan, add urad dal and stir fry on a medium heat.
6. These lentils tend to burn fast if you don’t stir often. So be careful. Remove them to the same plate once they turn to light brown color.
7. Add sesame seeds and roast them the same way. They may sizzle or steam when they are about to be done. Remove to the same plate.
8. Add cumin seeds and roast until deep golden to light brown. They begin to smell earthy and pungent when done. Remove to the same plate.
9. Next add red chilies and roast until crisp. Keep regulating the flame from low to medium and vice versa as needed.
10. They turn slightly crisp when done but will turn fully crisp upon cooling. Transfer to a plate.
11. To the same pan, add curry leaves. Please make sure you pat dry them before using.
12. Roast the leaves until crisp. This takes only a few minutes. Remove them to the plate.
13. Add garlic and dry roast for 2 to 3 mins.
14. Stir in the coconut and roast until hot and aromatic. Keep this in the pan itself
15. Cool all the ingredients.
16. If you try to grind all the roasted ingredients together, you may end up with a too coarse powder. First grind the red chilies, salt and curry leaves in a grinder to make a fine powder. A lot of people also add hing. If you want you may add ¼ teaspoon at this stage.
17. Try to grind as fine as possible because this also gives a nice color to your podi. You may set aside some of this chilli podi so you can adjust the heat level later.
18. Scrape off the sides of the blender jar, then add dal, cumin and sesame.
19. Grind to a fine or coarse powder as per your liking. Add coconut and garlic.
20. Grind again. Taste test and add more salt. If the idli podi is not spicy, you may add little red chilli powder and grind again. You can also heat the chili powder, cool and add it here for better shelf life.
Store idli podi in an airtight glass or steel jar at room temperature. It stores well for several months.
Different regions make idli podi in different ways. Here are some variations:
Variations of Idli Podi
1. Traditional Tamil style milagai podi is made of only 6 ingredients – urad dal, chana dal, sesame seeds, red chilies, hing & salt. However ingredients like jeera, tamarind, jaggery & garlic are also included by many.
2. Andhra style idli karam podi is made in so many different ways. Each region has their own variations. The ingredients are the same as shared in the recipe card below. But includes coriander seeds and excludes sesame seeds.
I make idli podi only few times a year. I make the Curry leaves podi, Peanut podi or Flaxseed podi more often since my kids love both of those. They are also more healthy than the basic one.
To make idli podi, I use chana dal, urad dal, dried coconut and sesame seeds in equal quantities. Dried coconut is optional but I prefer to use since it is high in calcium. It gives a nice nutty aroma but ensure to use fresh and good quality copra. Do not use rancid smelling coconut.
Red chilies are used to spice up the idli podi. To add flavor cumin and garlic are used. For health benefits curry leaves or flax seeds can also be added. These proportions work well to make a flavorful milagai podi.
I do not use tamarind and jaggery, only reason there is no way to filter and use them for this recipe, so i skip them. idli podi remains fresh for a couple of months if handled with moist free spoons.
I make idli podi with so many variations, you can try with peanuts, flax seeds or even with some almonds.
Idli Podi Recipe (Milagai Podi)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- ¼ cup chana dal (bengal gram)
- ¼ cup urad dal (urad dal, skinned split black lentils)
- ¼ cup sesame seeds (or peanuts or 2 tbsps flaxseeds)
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 8 to 16 dried red chilies (or 1 to 1¼ tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder. adjust to suit your taste)
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 2 to 3 sprigs curry leaves (optional but recommended)
- ¼ cup dried coconut (optional, copra, desiccated coconut)
- 1 to 2 garlic cloves (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon hing (optional, asafetida)
- Wash curry leaves and pat dry with a kitchen tissue. Clean all the ingredients, pick debris and discard.
- Add chana dal to a heavy bottom pan and dry roast on a medium heat until light brown and aromatic. Remove them to a plate.
- Roast urad dal in the same pan, on a low to medium flame until golden and aromatic. Transfer to the same plate.
- Add sesame seeds to the same pan & roast until they sizzle or steam. Do not over roast as they can taste bitter. (If using peanuts, dry roast them until deep golden and aromatic.) Transfer to the same plate.
- To the same pan, add cumin seeds and roast until aromatic and deep brown. Do not burn. Transfer to the same plate.
- Dry roast red chilies till crisp & remove to the same plate.
- To the same pan, add curry leaves and roast on a low flame till they turn crisp. Set these aside as well.
- Add garlic to the hot pan & roast for 2 mins. Remove and roast coconut until aromatic. Cool all the ingredients.
How to make Idli Podi
- Grind red chilies, curry leaves and salt to a fine powder. If you want you may add hing at this stage.
- To the same jar, add dal, cumin & sesame. Grind to a fine or coarse powder as per your choice.
- Lastly add coconut and garlic. Grind to a powder.
- Taste test and add more salt. If you want more heat or deeper color you may heat little red chili powder or black pepper in a pan and add to the podi.
- Store idli podi in an airtight dry jar. Serve with idli, dosa, uttapam or with rice and ghee.
- I have not used oil completely in this recipe. However you can fry the red chilies and curry leaves in hot oil. If you prefer to store the idli podi for a few months then avoid oil and coconut too in the recipe.
- I always use sesame and coconut in my idli podi as they are high in calcium & other nutrients. You may skip if you do not like or have them.
- Adjust the amount of red chilies. The number of chilies mentioned in the recipe will give you a moderately spiced idli podi.
- For variations you can also use roasted peanuts or flax seeds.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
Watch Idli Podi Video
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Idli Podi Recipe first published in March 2015. Updated in April 2023.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me
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This is such a nutritious and simple recipe and the best thing is that there is very less cleaning up afterwards.
I love the nutty taste of roasted urad dal so I add double the amount, also I reduced the salt a bit.
I always make 2x the recipe and it really vanishes fast, the entire family loves it.
Thank you so much Joe. So glad to know you all love this.
Tried your idli podi Swasthi. Absolutely in love with the flavors. All of us are enjoying a sprinkle of this on almost everything I have been cooking the past 2 days. Thank you
That’s awesome! Glad to know Hema. Thanks for trying
To clarify, I can just dry roast regular raw split chana dal for this recipe, or do I have use pre-roasted chana bought from an Indian store? Thanks
It is raw split chana dal.
Hello Swasthi. Might this be similar to molaga podi which my friend from Mangalore refers to as ‘Gunpowder’. She suggested i serve it to my son inlaw who is the only one in our family who likes his food chilli hot. She said he could sprinkle on his curry.
Yes this is our version of milagai podi. A lot of people do not add coconut and sesame. It is usually made very hot. My recipe is for a toned down version. You can try out a small batch. I also have a few more similar recipes that can be used the same way. You can take a look:
Curry leaves podi
Hope this helps
దోసె కోసం ఈ రెసిపీ బాగుంటుందా?
Yes can use but IMO this Peanut podi tastes best
Hi swasthi I tried this recipe it’s very awesome thanks a lot
Glad you like it.
It is superb. I avoided coconut. Used sesame instead of ground nut. Lovely recipe. I mixed it with hot ghee and Served with rava dosa. 👍👍👍👍👍
Glad to know Mousumi
I tried this podi without tamarind it is so yummy. Pls let me know if i need to add tamarind how much should i add – I mean for 1 X which is (12 servings). ? Can i add 1/2 nellikkai size ? Also how much jaggery can be added ? I want to try with ALL ingredients.
Hi Swasthi if I choose to use corriander seeds instead of sesame seeds, do I have to use the same quantity (1/4 cup) in place of sesame seeds? I am also wondering, how it would taste if I use both corriander seeds and sesame seeds (50/50) ratio in this recipe. Thanks for your input.
Hi Rom garu,
Yes you can replace sesame seeds with coriander seeds. I haven’t tried 50/50 but it should taste good. My mom always added a bit of tamarind and jaggery with coriander seeds for Daniyala karam. You can also try that combo. I also have this flaxseed podi you may want to try that. Thank you so much for rating.
Swasthi, thanks very much for your input. Yes, I remember people using a little bit of tamarind in this podi. I think I am going to try a 50/50 combo of corriander and sesame seeds. Who knows it might taste great!!!
Thank you so much sister…such a wonderful recipe…you guide so well.. Love you so much sis❤ Because of your wonderful guidance I’m cooking good food for my husband & daughter..thank you❤God bless you..
Glad to know the recipes are helping. Thank you so much for the wishes.
Made it. Very tasty authentic and tasty. Thank you for the recipe.
I made it today and came out really well. Liked the taste.
Glad to know! Thank you!
Very nice.. Tried and loved the taste.. I added salt..
Love it..! Should we be adding salt to this podi recipe? The store bought ones have that salty taste to it. What would you recommend?
Thank you! Yes there is salt included in the recipe. You may add more to suit your taste.
How are you? Hoping to see many more recipes from your end during this lockdown.
I tripled this recipe and followed the procedure to the T and it came out perfect. Mainly my MIL loved it.
I have tried many of your recipes simple ones to complex ones, vada to Biryani, sweets to cake, podis to ice cream and almost all of them turned good.
As per my family, my culinary skills improved a lot during the last few years. All thanks to you for presenting each recipe clearly along with pictures. Keep continuing your excellent work.
I am doing good. Thank you! Haha! I was hoping the same. But unable to since the entire family is home all the time. Glad to see your comment after a long time. I replied your comment on vada as well.
Thanks for the comment!
Perfect Podi. Tried many of your dishes, all superb. THANKS!
Hi sis, tried your idli podi recipe this morning and it was superb.. Thank you so much for your great recipes and keep blogging more.. Tq ?
You are welcome! Glad you liked it. Yes sure will keep sharing. Thank you
Fist of all thank you for all the recipes. Your blog is the bible for My cooking. The site is very presentable and I feel comfortable going through it. Thanks for it.
Need one help,
I tried the above powder and it came out very spicy for me , is there any way i can tweak it. Please let me know , thanks in advance.
Sorry for the delay. You comment was in spam. Thank you so much for trying the recipes.The easiest way to bring down the heat is by making another small batch of the same without chilies and then mixing them.I know by now your podi may have finished. Sorry again!
This is padma from vizag. I like your recipes. Please give me the recipe for endu kobbari podi.
Thank you. Yes I will try to share the recipe.
I tried the idli podi. It was very good but very less spicy. I doubled the red chillis and it was great. My husband loves this. Thankk you
You are welcome. Glad it came out good. Double the amount of red chilies is a lot for our taste. Must have been very spicy. Thanks for trying.