Every time we return from India, our bags are filled with several pounds of aromatic spice mixes; Sambar Podi, Dhaniya podi, Tiffin Sambar podi, Red chili podi, Kuzhambu Milagai Podi, Idli Molagai podi, Karuvapellai podi (curry leaves powder). The concoction of their aromas would even help us identify our bags among the hundreds in the conveyor belt. These spice mixes/podis are made from scratch by Amma with love and care. The spices are sun dried and then weighed on a white analog kitchen scale and on a mild heat it is roasted to perfection and taken to the flour mill where it is milled to the consistency that Amma wants. As soon as I come home, I unpack my bags fill the empty glass jars with these spices and stock the rest in my refrigerator. They don’t go rancid but it is just me who is overcautious.
I feel handicapped when I run out of these spice mixes especially the two varieties of Sambar Podi. They are the bread and butter of my kitchen and I can never comprise them for store bought ones. But I don’t lament rather feel excited for repeating the process in my kitchen. The whole spice jars hiding in my kitchen cabinet are brought back to the kitchen counter where I weigh the spices individually on my tiny kitchen scale. Then my miniature cast iron pan is pulled out and on a gentle heat I roast one spice at a time until it jumps, crackles and unleash the perfume unique to the spice. Then they are cooled and ground to a fine powder in an Indian Mixie/Spice grinder.
Oh beware, on a whim you can burn the spices if you don’t pay attention to it and ruin the zen place you are creating. So please please dedicate yourself to this yogic exercise. Sorry, if I am terrorizing you. I just want to put this word in your head so that you don’t complain later that I didn’t warn you. I am sure you will do well because you want this best Tiffin sambar podi.
Some of you might wonder how it is different from the regular sambar podi, then you must ask people who crave for Savanna Bhavan or Ratna cafe Sambar which is served exclusively with their breakfast items like Idli, Dosa, Pongal, Upma, Sambar Vada, Mini idly et all. Obviously use this to make Sambar (Pigeon pea and tamrind stew) with your choice of vegetables and lots of shallots. Amma usually makes it with tons of Shallots
You can also sprinkle it on top of the stir fries (oohh..thy potatoes) or on any stews you make
Or make an instant gun powder/ Idli Molagai podi. Recipe: Add 2-3 tbsp of this podi/powder, one or two garlic pod and pulse it in the mixie/spice grinder for 10 seconds. later add some sesame oil stir it well and and serve it with hot and fluffy idlis or crispy dosas
8 tbsp Coriander Seeds / Dhaniya
1 tsp Split Bengal gram / Kadala paruppu
1/2 tsp Black gram / Uluttam paruppu
1/3 tsp Black Pepper / Milagu
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds / Venthiyam
1/4 tsp Cumin seeds / Jeeragam
20-25 Red chili / Kanja milagai
1/4 tsp Asafetida / Perungayam
Handful of Curry leaves
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