Oct 17, 2011

South Indian Gun Powder

If you have ever eaten South Indian food, you know what I am talking about. Molagapodi (moh-lah-ha poh-dee) is often served with Dosas and Idlis, but actually it can be eaten with almost anything. It's a reddish-brown scary looking powder, served smothered in sesame oil, often known for being overly spicy. Every Tamillian household makes their own version of it and you will never find the same taste anywhere even if the recipe is the same exact thing because not only does it depend on who is making it, it also relies on the level of spiciness and colour of the red chilli depending on the variety, the amount of time you spend roasting every ingredient and your mood when you are making it!

Moplagapodi literally means 'chilli powder' but I think Gun Powder is a more accurate description. It's actually a very cleverly disguised powder containing lots of protein (lentils) and calcium (sesame). There are numerous versions of this powder but I like to use my grandmother's recipe simply because I really really like her gun powder (and I am not alone).

My granny's Gun Powder with Dosas

Best served with hot Dosas and Idlis, sesame oil is added to it to tone down the spiciness. I prefer it without the oil. Why would you want to tone down anything that is spicy! You can alter the level of spiciness depending on your capacity by adding the chilli little bit at a time.

This is the way my grandmother explained the recipe to me. So I won't change it.

You need:

For 15 dry red chillies use the following measure. (I used organic red chillies that were pretty spicy)
1 small cup (standard 1/2 cup measure is what i used) Split chickpeas without the seedcoat (Chana Dal)
1 small cup white Urad Dal
2 small cups (1 cup measure) White Sesame (you can even use black sesame for a deeper colour and  better flavour)

Oil (Any oil that can be heated)
Asafoetida (hing) 1/4 teaspoon or more
A powerful dry grinder to make the powder

Wash the sesame and then roast it on a heavy bottom iron wok. The reason you wash it is so that when it starts to puff up while roasting it won't jump out of the wok. Keep stirring it around to make sure it is evenly roasted. Once it starts to make that splitting sound at frequent intervals and if it has become slightly darker in colour, it's done.

In the same wok, roast the Chana Dal and the Urad Dal one after the other till they are a very light brown  colour. Mix it with the roasted sesame.

Add oil to the wok and fry the red chillies. They will start puffing up quickly. Remove the Chillies and drain as much oil as you can while removing them.

Grind everything together. I like it to be a crunchy powder, so some tiny chunks are okay by me. Some people like it as fine as possible. Add in the salt and asafoetida. Mix well and transfer it into a bottle. Let it cool completely before closing the lid. This will stay for months outside.

Some people also fry Curry Leaves and add it while powdering. It adds some colour and lovely flavour to it.

 Clockwise from right: Fried Red Chillies, Roasted Sesame, Roasted Urad Dal and Roasted Chana Dal

It goes very well with south Indian food, but sometimes I like to add it to a vegetable I am cooking. It also goes very well with vegan yogurt so you can even make it into a dip. The possibilities are endless. I, however, catch myself eating this as it is.

My freshly ground Gun Powder

It is said, whoever is cooking adds their own flavours depending on their energies. That is why the same recipe made by two people will almost never taste the same. I still haven't gotten to my grandmother's level, but this batch got her approval!


  1. love this gunpowder.. i always end up eating it at friends places, and steal some of their mom made stash!.. but never make it at home..Will do now!
    I passed on the Liebster blog award to you! Pick it up on Hobby And More Food Blog

  2. Tried your gunpowder Recipe. Had only quarter cup sesame at home so just used that much. It turned out yummy! :) We've been having only this with Idli and Dosa. lol

  3. Hey that is awesome! I can't wait to make my stock again!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.


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