Milagai (chili) Podi or Molaga Podi or Gunpowder as it is loosely called, is a great example of culinary ingenuity. The arid central and southern regions of Tamil Nadu used water sparingly in cooking. A balanced meal was, however, never compromised upon. While dal and sambar came much later, the combination of lentils (protein) with cereals (carbohydrates) had established its importance. The chili also provided the much needed heat to balance the flavours. As a result, Milagai Podi developed as a seasoning to go with idlis, dosas and rice. Over time, mild spices got incorporated for additional flavour and Milagai Podi started winning hearts across Southern India. Today, every region has their own version of idli podi, with local influences. The use of Milagai Podi magically transforms a humble dish like idli or dosa into a melee of interesting flavours!
How to use Milagai Podi like a local:
1. Take desired quantity of Milagai Podi
2. Add some sesame (til) oil or a dollop of desi ghee
3. Mix well to form a paste
4. Use it as a dip with idli or apply on dosa
5. You can also mix it with rice along with ghee