milagai podi aka gun powder

The first time I had gun powder was at Andhra Bhawan in Delhi during my undergraduate days. I had been hearing my South Indian friends rave about this condiment forever and needless to say, I was fascinated by the name! It tasted heavenly and until recently I had no idea that it was so simple to prepare! Milagai means chilli and podi means powder in tamil. So, this is basically a very potent chilli powder. podis have a highly concentrated flavor and are used in really small quantities as flavor enhancers with other South Indian foods like idli, dosa or even plain rice. You can store this powder in an air tight container and if kept in a refrigerator, it’ll last for almost a month. All podis involve careful roasting of several ingredients which are then powdered. If you dry roast them and do not add stuff like garlic, the end product will last longer. But some recipes use a little fat for roasting or use sesame seeds, garlic etc., in which case try to consume the podi within a week or two. the following recipe is the most basic one; there are several variations possible. The color of the podi also varies accordingly.


  • Patience, a bucketful
  • Whole dry red chillies: 10-15
  • Chana daal, 1/2 cup
  • Urad daal (split, without skin), 1/2 cup
  • Uncooked rice, 1/4 cup
  • Hing or asafoetida, 1 tea spoon
  • Salt, to taste


  • In a heavy bottomed skillet, dry roast everything except asafoetida powder on a very low flame. Keep stirring constantly, and I mean it! 
  • Roast everything till the mixture turns a light brown and very aromatic. Nothing should start burning. It can take around 10-15 minutes .
  • Add the asafoetida when it’s almost done and roast for a few more minutes.
  • Mix in the salt and then remove the mixture from the skillet.  Let it cool down.
  • Grind in a mixer/blender to the desired level of coarseness. Enjoy the sneezing 🙂
  • You can now store it in an air-tight container and put it in the fridge.
  • Right before eating it, mix in a little warm ghee


  • You can roast the ingredients in a little oil instead of dry roasting them. Keep in mind that this will reduce the shelf-life of the podi.
  • Optional dry ingredients: coriander seeds, white or black sesame seeds, black peppercorn
  • Optional fresh ingredients: curry leaves, garlic

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