Milagaai podi (chilli powder)

I was watching my amma (mum) make milagaai podi (chilli powder) and thought I can archive the recipe into my blogs so that I can pull it up now and then to renew my memory.

Milagaai Podi (literally means “chilli powder” in Tamil) is a coarse mixture of ground dry spices that typically contains dried chillies, lentils, and sesame seeds. Tamils traditionally use milagaai podi as a condiment on idlis, dosas and other South Indian dishes. The intensity of this condiment’s spiciness can range from almost no spice at all to extremely spicy. Some like to sprinkle a layer of sugar on top of the spicier mixtures after the oil is poured on the powder. This innovative idea creates a barrage of flavors once inside the mouth, from spicy and salty to sweet. Parents use this method for satisfying children who crave ‘podi’ but can not handle the intense flavor.

Considered a convenient substitute to chutneys, it is usually available in most households in Tamil Nadu.
Milagaai podi is not consumed dry, rather it is mixed with sesame oil or sometimes ghee.


1/2 cup urad dhal
1/2 cup chana dhal
5-7 dry red chillies
1/2 tsp Thil oil (Sesame seed oil)
A pinch of asafoetida
salt to taste
  1. Mix the dal and the chillies in a frying pan and dry roast until the white dal changes to a golden brown.
  2. Remove to a plate and sprinkle the asefotida on the mix before it cools. Dry roast the sesame seeds till they become dry.
  3. Mix with the dal and chilli mix and let cool.
  4. When cooled completely, salt to taste and put it all in a grinder and make a slightly coarse powder of the same.
  5. Mix with either sesame oil or ghee when using.
  6. Some recipes add powdered, roasted garlic.
  7. Add 1/4 cup of rice and 2 tsp of pepper to the above ingredients to get the authentic palakkad style idli molagai podi.
  8. Instead of sesame seeds oil, try adding jaggery to get a different taste.

Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I’m taking with me when I go. ¬†– Erma Bombeck





  1. My husband and kids loved your version of milagaai podi. My mother in law does this way. I put extra sambaar powder and perungayam in the podi. It enhances the flovor. Try it out.

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