Idli Podi/ Milagai Podi

March 30, 2021mayurisjikoni
Blog post

What is Idli Podi/ Milagai Podi?

Idli Podi/ Milagai is a flavorful condiment made from roasted lentils, spices and seeds. Also known as Gun Powder, Chutney Podi, Idli Karam Podi, its so easy to prepare at home. Actually, the word podi basically means powder. And, Milagai refers to chilis.. that is what I learnt today from my blogger friend Sandhya.

Basically lentils, spices and seeds are used. Other ingredients added make it slightly different in taste. I’m told that each South Indian household has its own version of Podi. A difference of measurements of the basic ingredients or some special ingredients added to it to make it unique. Check below for all the different kinds of podi that are common to find in any South Indian Kitchen.



Today, my recipe is all about a basic Idli Podi. I’m a huge fan of Podi Idli which I was introduced to some years back by my son in law. We had gone for a meal to Madurai Idly and he ordered podi idli, while I ordered masala dosa. I nearly finished his share and he had to order some more podi idli. On our way out of the restaurant he bought idli podi for me to use. Since then, there is no looking back, its podi idli at home or whenever available from restaurants or take away places.


Holi Celebration

Yesterday I made some idli sambar after a very long time. Love how in India one gets ready made idli dosa batter so that one can indulge in their favorite in a matter of a few minutes – ok within an hour or so. But, here in Mombasa, I don’t have that luxury. Indeed, I need to plan as I have to make the batter at home. This time round I made sure I had extra idlis, just so that I could enjoy some podi idli. Unlike me, Hubby still prefers his idli sambar. Therefore, extra sambar was prepared. Holi Celebration is pretty low key because of Covid. However, that does not prevent us from making some good food and sharing with my neighbors.

I sent some to my neighbor and in the evening they came home with some puri, sabji, kheer and malpua. I was about to open the main grill door and I slipped and fell. Apparently there was a puddle of water under the door mat and I stepped on the mat and the next thing I know I’m on the floor! For a few seconds I was extremely frightened as this is not the time for fractures or major injuries due to the Covid. No major injuries, thank God. However, I have landed up with a bruised and sore left toe 🙁

Finally Got Down To Making Idli Podi/ Milagai Podi At Home:

As I mentioned above, I had planned to make extra idlis so that I could have some idli podi to celebrate World Idli Day. Looked for the podi powder in my fridge, turning it all upside down, with hubby shouting to rest my foot! Couldn’t find any! Now, I can’t exactly rush to a shop here and find ready made Idli Podi. So out came all the spices and lentils and made it at home. Now that is struck off the list to try.. never will I buy ready made one!


As I mentioned above Podi means powder. On the whole, usage of podi in South Indian Cooking is not restricted to Idlis only but is used for curries, for enjoying with rice, sprinkled on dosas or other snacks and even for adding to some dry vegetable preparations. What I’ve noticed in all the different podis – there is one common factor, that is it usually served with ghee. In short, mix the podi with ghee and enjoy it like a chutney or sprinkle it on your food. Specifically, a sambar podi will be different from a rasam podi. In general, the name of the podi will indicate which ingredient is used in a larger quantity. For example if it is parippu podi, the name indicates that a larger amount of lentils is used. Milagai will mean it is loaded with chilis.


Some Different Podi Recipes You May Want To Check Out:

 Herbs or Leaves Podi:

  • Drumstick Leaves Chutney PowderArchana uses a generous cupful of tender moringa or drumstick leaves to make this podi so that the family can enjoy it with hot rice or any other food.
  • Priya’s Pudina Podi – already I can imagine how fragrant this podi must be. This podi is made with fresh mint leaves, lentils and spices. Enjoy it with idli, dosa, rice or rotis.
  • Preeti makes my favorite podi – Karuveppilai Podi which is made with a generous amount of curry leaves along with lentils, spices and seeds. I’ve actually used this podi to make flavorful roasted makhana.
  • Have you tried a podi with fresh coriander leaves? If not then you’ve got to check out Preethi’s Kothamalli Kharam (Cilantro Chutney Powder). This podi can be served with idli, dosa, rice or paniyaram.

Using Lentils:

  • Niranjana’s Garlic Paruppu Podi sounds really delicious as its loaded with garlic, different lentils and hot dry chilis. I can imagine how delish it would taste with some hot rice and ghee.
  • Kollu Idli Podi, a podi recipe that Narmadha likes to prepare is made from horse gram (kollu) and spices. This versatile and healthy podi is used to flavor curries, used with idli, dosa, rice, etc. Did you know that horse gram is a rich source of protein?

With Seeds:

  • Aruna’s traditional Andhra Style Nalla Karam Podi is prepared from coriander seeds, lentils, spices and garlic. Enjoy it with idli, dosa, vada, adai, upma or rice.
  • Make Sandhya’s Tilachi Chutney or Sesames Seeds Chutney Powder to include more sesame seeds in your daily diet. Sandhya loves to have it any meal that she prepares. But you can enjoy with idli, dosa, adai, vada, or even rice.
  • Check out Swaty’s Flax Seeds Chutney Powder which she loves to add to chaas, yogurt, parathas, chilla, idli, dosa, etc

Extra Hot Podi:

  • Next on my list to try out is Priya Srinivasan’s Mysore Style Idly Podi. Its more spicier, has also peanuts and more fresh coconut.

Podi for Curries/Sambar/Sabji:

  • A Tambrahm recipe, Priya Srinivasan likes to make her mother’s Curry Podi which she can sprinkle on dry sabjis/sabzis.
  • Check out Priya Iyer’s Family recipe for Sambar Podi. Generally, this powder mixture is used when making sambar, the curry. However, the powder can be used to sprinkle on any South Indian curry.

Coconut Podi:

  • Amma’s Thengai Podi is a recipe that Priya Iyer has learnt from her mum. Thengai podi is made with dry grated coconut along with chilis, lentils and spices. Use this coconuty powder with idli, dosa, hot rice, in curries and in different South Indian rice preparations.

With Edible Flowers:

  • Niranjana likes to serve Veppampoo Podi with dosa, idli or hot rice. For this podi she uses neem flowers along with lentil and spices. In fact, this slightly bitter podi is so nutritious.

Unusual Ingredient:

  • I would never have thought that bitter gourd or karela can be used to make a podi. You don’t believe me? Then check out Aruna’s kakarakaya karam podi (bitter gourd podi). Its ideal for diabetics.

Festival Time Podi:

Seema makes a Sundal Podi which she uses during Navratri Festival. Any sundal or bean preparation she makes during this festival, she adds some of the Sundal Podi.

Ingredients Required For Idli Podi/ Milagai Podi:

  • Urad Dal – split black gram, the white skinless one.
  • Chickpea Lentils – roasted chickpea lentils, chana dal or also known as Bengal Gram.
  • Fresh Curry Leaves – or dried if you have any
  • Sesame Seeds– tal, simsim. Can be replaced by peanuts.
  • Dry Red Chillis – add according to your taste. For hot podi, the hot variety of chillis are used. You can take a mixture of extra hot and mild chilis like I have.
  • Grated Coconut – use grated kopra or desiccated coconut. I didn’t have any so I dry roasted freshly grated coconut.
  • Garlic -peeled and sliced. Optional.
  • Salt – according to your taste.
  • Turmeric Powder – haldi or harder.
  • Cumin Seeds – jeera, jeeru
  • Asafetida – hing
  • Tamarind – optional. I have not used any.
  • Jaggery – optional. I have not added any.

Dietary Tips:

  • Vegan – as I’ve not used any ghee.
  • Gluten Free – for a gluten free version best to avoid adding asafetida (hing) as the ones we get in the shops usually contains wheat flour.




Idli Podi/ Milagai is a flavorful condiment made from roasted lentils, spices and seeds. Also known as Gun Powder, Chutney Podi, Idli Karam Podi, its so easy to prepare at home.
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course chutney, condiment, PODI
Cuisine Indian, South Indian
Servings 1 CUP


  • ¼ cup chana dal
  • ¼ cup urad dal
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds
  • ¼ cup grated coconut
  • 8-10 dry red chillis
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves fresh
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp asafetida optional
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder


  • Put a wide pan on medium to low heat.
  • I prefer to roast all the ingredients separately. Follow the steps in order.
  • First roast the dry red chillis till they become a little crisp. Make sure you don't burn them. Stir all the time. As soon I see that they are beginning to curl a bit I remove them from the pan.
  • Remove them to a wide plate.
  • Next roast the curry leaves, till the become dry and curl up slightly. Add to the roasted red chillis.
  • Add chana dal and roast, stirring all the time till it turns light brown in colour. Add to the chilli and curry leaves mixture.
  • Next, roast the urad dal. Again, keep stirring till it begins to turn light brown in colour. Add to the roasted chana dal mixture.
  • Add sesame seeds and stir continuously till the seeds begin to pop. Add to the chana dal mixture.
  • Roast cumin seeds till they begin to crackle. Make sure you stir the seeds continuously. Add the roasted cumin seeds to the rosted chana dal mixture.
  • Next roast the garlic till it turns light brown in colour. Remove from the pan and add to the chana dal mixture.
  • Roast grated coconut, stirring all the time. Roast till it begins to turn light brown in colour and lets out an aroma.
  • Add the coconut to the chana dal mixture.
  • Allow the mixture to cool down.
  • Add the mixture along with turmeric powder and salt to a food processor and grind to a powder. Using a spatula, push down the mixture from the sides of the food processor so that everything grinds evenly.
  • Store the Idli Podi in an airtight container till required.
  • To prepare Podi Idli, cut the idli into smaller pieces. Add ghee or oil in a pan.
  • Stir fry the idli till it becomes warm.
  • Add idli podi or the powder to the idli. Mix well and serve. Add the powder according to your taste.


  • You can use little oil or ghee to roast the ingredients. I decided not to use any.
  • Add tamarind and jaggery if you wish.
  • Can add seeds like flax seeds or chia seeds too.
  • The powder will stay fresh at room temperature for at least 2 weeks but I prefer to store it in the fridge.
  • Can use this Idli Podi with dosa, paniyaram, hot rice, adai, etc.
Keyword gun powder recipe, homemade idli podi, Idli Powder Recipe

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If you do try this recipe then please either

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  • Priya Srinivasan

    March 31, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    5 stars
    Wow that’s a wonderful collection of spice powders mayuri ji! Love your version of idly Podi! Garlic must add a nice kick to it !
    Thank you for linking my curry podi and idly Podi too🙏🏻

    1. mayurisjikoni

      March 31, 2021 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you for sharing and yes, with garlic it does taste good.

  • Swati

    March 31, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    5 stars
    Idli with homemade Idli podi look so inviting.. such podi/powders are so handy and useful. Appreciate how you always take efforts to make versatile collections. Bookmarking this post. Thank you so much for including mine. Hope your sore toe is better now.. and you had a nice time with your neighbors.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      March 31, 2021 at 9:34 pm

      Thank you so much Swati. We had a good evening with the neighbors. As they say they are the only ones we allow in our bubble. My toe is much better, thanks. And thanks for sharing your recipe link.

  • Vasusvegkitchen

    March 31, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    5 stars
    Thank God that your safe without injuries, plse do take care di. Milagai podi is most wanted and liked podi recipe at every house in many states. Your version idli podi looks super tasty, just need some ghee and hot idli’s to enjoy this podi. Also loved all the podi recipes, thanks a bunch for sharing my podi recipes too 😊..

    1. mayurisjikoni

      March 31, 2021 at 9:32 pm

      Thank you so much Aruna. Yes, that’s what I did mixed it with a bit of ghee and warm idlis.. heavenly food. And thanks for sharing your podi links with me.

  • Archana

    March 31, 2021 at 9:33 pm

    5 stars
    Please take care, Mayuri n rest the toe and all the parts attached to it. There are times when doctor hubby’s know the best.
    Idli podi looks delicious and I absolutely love the way you presented it. As for the love of podi it’s a fantastic journey.
    Thanks for linking my post and I want to try the others.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      March 31, 2021 at 9:38 pm

      Thank you Archana. My toe is much better. Thanks for sharing your link. Hoping at some point I’ll try out all the podi recipes shared.


    April 3, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    5 stars
    That is an amazing collection of podi recipes and each one is so unique. I loved the addition of garlic and coconut in your idli podi and next time when am making a fresh batch going to try your way. Looks too tempting with idli.

    1. mayurisjikoni

      April 3, 2021 at 4:22 pm

      Thank you so much Narmadha, you are so right each recipe is so unique in flavour.

  • Hari

    April 5, 2021 at 2:18 pm

    5 stars
    amazing ! and nice

    1. mayurisjikoni

      April 5, 2021 at 5:55 pm

      thank you

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