Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Bele Chutney Pudi

If you live in Karnataka, you are no stranger to Chutney Pudi. Pudi means powder, so this is roughly, chutney in powder form for you. You will always find a big box of this on the kitchen shelves of every self-respecting Kannadiga, albeit different versions and different recipes. Most plates of steaming fluffy idlis and crispy dosas have a tiny heap of this powder along side the chutney (the wet kind) and sambhar

Some of us from the North of Karnataka will be miffed at the idea of eating avalakki vaggarane, mandakki vaggarane, and uppittu (upma) without chutney pudi. No actually, we eat chutney pudi with uppittu and avalakki. To the extent, my mother gets annoyed every time there is a holler for some more chutney pudi.  ''We need a person to manufacture only this pudi exclusively for this household!!''  you can often hear her grumble. Not that anyone ever sacrifices a second and third serving  to placate her! 

All wedding preparations start with the making of kilos of chutney pudi and menthyada hittu, another versatile, very flavorful but bland powder made with mixed lentils. Mention wedding preparations at home and you can bet your next dose of filter coffee, at least one person around will ask " Is the chutney pudi and menthyada hittu ready? These are packed in covers, small ones for guests, big ones for close family ; )  along with chakli, mandakki unde and other snacks to be given along with the tambula and the mandatory 'return gift'. Of course, there is invariably feedback, comments and ratings on these from folks who receive them! 

And then there is the small army of people you need to feed in a wedding household. Having chutney pudi and menthyada hittu around is a life saver as it fills up any empty spaces on the plantain leaf. Often after the first 'batch' of dinner is served, you can hear the kitchen in-charge for the evening (one of the elderly Aunts mostly) whispering about an unexpected shortage of rasam/sambar/ kootu . No panic! We will serve some chutney pudi! Hungry kids bawling for a snack or (more) visitors in the bedlam? There will be a huge box of chutney pudi avalakki (a dry snack made with rice flakes) and the usual snacks all ready. I am too lazy to grind chutney for the dosa / idli today? No worries, we will eat it with the pudi doused in oil or melted ghee. Oh did I mention, its also heavenly mixed with hot rice and a dollop of ghee! 

I know by now, it is all coming out of your ears. But this is one tongue tickling spicy pudi we all love to have around. Handy, spicy, versatile, lip-smacking. Time consuming yes, but keeps well. If your mother or mother-in-law or 'expert' Aunt doesn't pack pouches of this for you, and you don't already have that family heirloom recipe, here is how my mother makes it. 

Bele Chutney Pudi

This version is called Bele Chutney Pudi  as it is made with a larger proportion of lentils, making it a healthier, protein rich one. This is a rough guide (OK Amma  eye balled and I measured it, hence the odd measures),  do go by your taste,  please refer the note below.

Ingredients (makes a generous 5- 6 cups or more) 

Chana dal -  2.75 cups
Urad Dal - 1.5 cups
Peanuts - 1 cup
Dry coconut - 1 large, grated
Red chilli powder - 1/2 heaping cup (or more)
Peanut or vegetable oil - 8-10 tablespoons
Hing - 1.5 teaspoons
Jeera - 2 tablespoons
Coriander seeds  - 2 tablespoons
Curry leaves, washed and dried. - 1 cup loosely packed
Tamarind - 1 large lemon sized ball
Jaggery roughly bashed and measured - 1/3 to 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

Method : Measure and set aside all ingredients separately. In a heavy pan, dry roast each ingredient on low heat separately till light golden and aromatic. Cool on separate plates. Grind the chana dal, urad dal, coriander, jeera and peanuts one by one till slightly coarse. Dump in a large vessel. Toast the coconut till light golden, curry leaves till crisp. Warm the tamarind till it is slightly crisp. 

Take a small portion (about a cup) of the ground lentils, add the tamarind, curry leaves and process till fine. Then add the coconut and process very briefly till it is done, do not over do or it will turn oily. 

Roughly mix together all of the above ground ingredients, add the jaggery and grind again very briefly just to combine. 

Heat the oil, switch off once hot, reserve 2 tablespoons of it. When it is just barely warm, add the chilli powder and hing Mix thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients with your hands adding salt to taste. The powder should not be very dry. Add the reserved oil if needed. Store airtight.

Please  note : Too much urad dal will make the pudi smell odd, the proportion of chana dal needs to be almost double this. You can use more of peanuts and coconut, but then you may need less oil later. Be sure the hing is strong and of good quality. Do not shy away from using enough chilli  powder and the spices, or your pudi may taste bland.


Niv Mani said...

loving this totally..

Rajani said...

As always enjoy reading your meticulous instructions. While we do have our version of dosa 'molaga podi', I want to try this out soon. Will let you know how it turned out. :-)

Kalyani said...

Ur post took me back to Bangalore where we literally grew up on this chutney pudi. I make s similar version but with whole red chillies and no peanuts at all (more from the south Karnataka / mysore style) .. I love chutneypudi and so does my family. Pretty sure will be making this soon.. If I need to scale down the channa Dal to s cup, can u inbox me the approx proportions of peanuts, chilli powder as well as urad . Many Thanks

Kurinji said...


Padmajha PJ said...

Suma, you have rightly captured the essence of every kannadiga and this chutney Podi! Beautiful pics...