It has been quite some time since I blogged and the only reason being,nothing has been engaging enough to write.
I totally believe that writing from the heart cannot come like a daily alarm clock that you wake up to every morning 🙂
And so, the inspiration did come in the form of something so minute so ingrained in a culture that I take for granted.
So, Welcome to the World of Podis or simply put Powders!
Nope , it’s not make up or the more serious cocaine kind, but really into a world of delicious condiments!
South India, especially the states of Andhra, Telangana, Karnataka & Tamil Nadu have a long history of podis(powders).
We use it as, let’s say an indulgence to our already indulged meals?
From my childhood, I observed my family having these podis along with their idlis, dosas , rice and Chapatis.
And recently along with my new found love for millets, came the old love for podis.
How do I describe these powders to you? It’s grainy, like you have walked into a garden full of spices and become fully intoxicated!
And once you mix them with a little ghee (clarified butter) and hot rice, you have hit that spot as it takes you to another world altogether.
I have no idea on how the history of podis started and all that blah blah but what I am going to do is take a trip with the podis I have, all home made and given by family & friends.
TELANGANA KAARAM PODI
‘Kaaram’ means chilli or also anything that’s really hot & spicy.
Now this podi has it’s uniqueness, in the sense unlike in other regions where Ghee is mixed, most of the times, Telangana people mix raw groundnut oil and the podi and eat.
This podi in particular I got from a dear friend whose village is in Mehboobnagar district in Telangana, and she had asked the local caretaker to specially make it.It’s so delicious that I remember having an extra portion of rice in spite of my tummy being full.
The reason why Oil is mixed more than ghee in this region is not just the taste but also not being able to afford rich ghee by the majority of its people in this dry barren region. It’s a mix of Dry Roasted spices with a strong flavour of dry red chillies and Garlic.
ANDHRA KAARAM PODI
This particular podi was given by a dear friend when I visited her. She is not from Andhra but her husband was and this is a specialty in his ancestral village in Andhra, homemade by his family.
It is a beautiful mix of Cinnamon, Clove, Red chillies, Coriander(all dry) & just a slight tinge of garlic. Less hotter than the Telangana mix but more spicier. To be had with Ghee!
TELANGANA KAKARAKAYA PODI ( BITTERGOURD)
This podi was made by cousin from Warangal region in Telangana and i have a story to it!
Among my maternal Aunts, my oldest Aunt was famous for podis, every time when we would make a trip, she would make us taste different podis with oil. Sometimes it would be red chillies, sometimes only garlic but my most favourite was this one! Bitter gourd podi!
And this Bitter gourd is special, because this particular type is the short and stout variety and grows seasonally.
I would eat so much that I would have to answer nature’s calls frequently thanks to its spicyness!
And last time, when i mentioned this to my Aunt, who was too old to make this, my cousin searched for that particular bitter gourd and made it and that’s family for you 🙂
A blend of dry bittergourd, dessicated toasted coconut, dry red chilly & garlic, it takes me to heaven whenever I have it.
I use it sparingly of course cos of the fear of completing it and not getting another batch for some time!
RAYALASEEMA PALLI PODI (PEANUT)
This Podi is very special to me not just because of it’s taste but the co-operative and the people involved behind it.
Rayalaseema region in Andhra is just like Telangana, a land that is arid, barren , the mud the colour of red, almost blood in colour and holds a long violent history of faction warring groups.
But in this very dry, barren region came someone like Bablu, Mary and his friends and set up Timbaktu Co-operative and converted a dry barren land into self sustenance multi crop fields using traditional methods of farming along with the farmers.
Needless to say, their work has spanned 25+ years and they continue to do what they have been doing. I feel overwhelmed when I think of them fondly as dear friends and so much of inspiration.
Now their co-operative retails products by Dharani – a totally producer owned business enterprise run by farmers, women in their region. And right from this region is this palli podi.
It has the rustic flavours of the region – a mix of roasted groundnuts, that are grown in abundance in that region, dry red chillies and garlic.
It’s so yum that I use it not just in rice, but as a flavoring for my Raitha, as a topping for my salads or like a curry for chapati. Yup, it’s that good!
Check their website: http://www.timbaktu.org
ANDHRA KAKARAKAYA PODI (BITTERGOURD)
This is the Andhra Version of the Bitter gourd Variety. I got this from a farmer’s exhibition and it was being exhibited by the ladies who make it themselves and I had to get this.
A mix of Red Chilli, Garlic, Tamarind(dry), Cumin, coriander, lentils – It goes well as a flavouring for all types of rice.
What I do is, I sometimes just mix the podi with rice and add tempering/seasoning , as we call it, poppu or talimpu and hog!
And believe me, what I am showing is just the tip of the iceberg.
Because in households across Andhra & Telangana, there are many wonderful women inside their kitchens toiling away and recreating old podis and stocking up just like their mothers and grandmothers used to do.
And let me tell you, this is not just an indulgence, but what these podis do is stoke up your digestive fire!
Yup, always in South India, especially in Podi lands, we start with this powder and some ghee/oil and then we move onto our dals, veggies, curds etc.,
So next time you come across someone who makes podis/ knows someone who makes podis/ exhibits podis just GRAB IT!