Moringa Leaf Podi | Drumstick Leaf Spice Powder

One last item we are making in this particular focus on Moringa leaves is a podi, or South Indian spice powder. For this, the leaves are dried quickly and then powdered. Simple, easy and quick.

We like to make our own seasoning from Moringa Leaves. Moringa Leaves are the next big superfood to come to the West from India, but available mainly in pill form. Many will never have seen a fresh Moringa Leaf! We love to cook with them, dry them, and use them as a seasoning in a powdered form. Our Moringa tree is growing well and we hope to have our own leaves next season.

Similar recipes include Moringa Leaf Thoran, Sundakkai Vathal Paruppu Podi, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, and Sambar Powder.

Browse all of our Moringa Leaf recipes and all of our Podis. All of our Indian recipes are here, and our Indian Essentials are here. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Grape Vine Leaf Powder

Lately, I have been using a powder made from blanched, dried and ground grape vine leaves as a spice and flavouring. It has a deep red grape, woody flavour. We use grape leaves in cooking – e.g. dolmades, cheese wrapped in grape vine leaves, casseroles and baked dishes lined with grape leaves – AND that they dry easily, so I thought that powdering them might work. It does. It is still an experiment and work in progress, but I am sharing the beginnings with you.

It goes well mixed with ghee and stirred through rice, sprinkled over feta cheese, and scattered over vegetables before they are roasted. Mixed with salt it is an excellent seasoning and into yoghurt as you make a sauce, dressing or dip. It is an interesting umami type flavour.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Vine Leaves Stuffed with Goats Cheese and Pine Nuts, Grape Leaf Encrusted Rice Pie, Burghul Dolmas, Baked Yoghurt in Vine Leaves, Grilled Pecorino in Grape Vine Leaves, and Mushrooms Cooked in Grape Vine Leaves.

Other spice mixes/powders include Sundakkai Podi, and Chaat Masala.

Browse all of our Grape Vine Leaf recipes, and all of our Spice Mixes. Or explore our Late Spring recipes.

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Sundakkai Vathal Paruppu Podi | Dried Pea Eggplant, Spice and Lentil Mix | Dried Turkey Berry Spice Powder

Sundakkai Vathal are dried pea eggplants (also called turkey berries), and they have a salty, slightly bitter taste. They are quite addictive, but are an adult taste. You have to grow into them. We adore them.

One way to use them is to grind them into a powder. Sometimes we do this without mixing them with anything else – saute them in a tiny bit of ghee until the puff a little, then grind into a powder, and sprinkle on rice and into dishes. It is amazing!

This recipe is a podi, or a South Indian spice mix, which includes lentils, pepper and chillies. You can add cumin as well. Curry leaves are crisped and ground with the other ingredients. It tastes great with hot rice mixed with ghee, and used to make Sundakkai Vathal Kuzhambu.

Other Spice Mixes include Garam Masala, Chaat Masala, Grape Vine Leaf Powder, and Sambar Powder.

Other Turkey Berry recipes include Sundakkai Kuzhambu, and Sundakkai Sambar.

Browse our other Podi recipes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Indian Essentials: How to Make Rasam Powder | Know your Different Rasam Powders

General Rasam Powder recipes.

It is difficult to define a rasam. As soon as you try you will find examples that break those rules. It has toor dal – but not every time – and tomatoes as a base – but not every time. It is strong on coriander and pepper and chillies – but not every time.

Rasam means juice, and some say it refers to the juice of the tamarind, on which a rasam is based – but not every time. It also means essence, and this is the fundamental tangy essence of the ingredients.

For example, Pepper Rasam is made without rasam powder. Gottu Rasam is made without toor dal. Beautiful Lemon Rasam is made without tamarind. And to top it all, Paneer Rasam is made without paneer, is served exclusively at weddings, and is made of rose petals.

Pepper, Chilli, Cumin Seed Rasam

Often in current times rasam and sambar powder are used almost interchangeably, but traditionally it wasn’t so.

Categorising Rasam Powders

None, Raw,  Roasted Powder or Fried

Powders use either raw spices or roasted or fried spices.

  1. No Rasam Powder – many recipes, especially traditional ones, select and treat spices (roast or not, grind to a powder or not) especially selected for the particular recipe.
  2. Raw Rasam Powders – spices are ground together without roasting or frying. The powder is roasted or fried with ghee before using in the rasam. If the raw powder is added directly to the rasam it is usually cooked for longer to cook out the raw spices.
  3. Roasted or Fried Rasam Powders – the spices are fried in oil, roasted on a hot dry tawa, or set in the hot sun for some hours before grinding. The powder is added directly to the rasam.

Basic or Complex

Another way of classifying the rasam powders is the inclusion of spices:

  1. A Basic Powder of Chillies, Pepper and Coriander – toor dal might be included or not. This powder allows the most spice variation when used in recipes. – other spices such as cumin, turmeric etc can be added separately to the rasam as preferred. The only variation in this spice mix is the ratio of ingredients used to make the powder.
  2.  More Complex Rasam Powders – other spices such as cumin are added to a basic mix before grinding. This allows for less variation in spices when making rasam.

Mysore Rasam with Lime Juice

Toor Dal or Not

There is variation in the use of Toor Dal in rasam powder:

  1. Does Not Contain Toor Dal – toor dal does not always form part of the base of a rasam powder. The rasam itself can also contain toor dal, or not.
  2. Contains Toor Dal – in varying amounts from a teaspoon to a cup or more. are ground and added to large batches of rasam powder.
    • Small amounts are used for flavouring and a little thickening of the rasam.
    • Large amounts are used to replace the toor dal in the rasam base, adding the texture and flavour of the toor dal to the rasam without the necessity to pre-cook the dal. Note that when using such mixes, more of the powder is added to the rasam. For example, if you add a teaspoon of powders without large amounts of toor dal, you might add several tablespoons of powder with large amounts of toor dal.

    The dal is usually roasted before grinding to a powder and mixing with the other rasam powder ingredients.

    It is helpful to know if you are using a powder with large amounts of toor dal, and if that is the type your recipe requires, because it determines  how much powder you will use and the final texture and flavour of the rasam.

There are as many rasam powder recipes as there are stars in the sky. Start simple, and explore spice combinations until you find the ratios that make sense for you.

Rasam Powder | Indian | Masalas | Vegetarian | Heat in The Kitchen

Rasam Powder Recipes

I had always used one or the other of these first rasam powders, to great effect when making rasam. I have lost their origin, they were possibly given to me at some stage in my early exploration of Indian cooking and/or spices.

The first includes considerable amounts of toor dal in the mix, so there is less need to use toor dal in the rasam itself.

Roasted Indian Rasam Powder

½ cup toor dal (split pigeon peas)
8-10 fresh curry leaves
2 tspn black mustard seeds
2 Tblspn cumin seeds
3 Tblspn coriander seeds
½ tspn fenugreek seeds
½ Tblspn black peppercorns
1 tspn red chilli powder, to taste
1 tspn turmeric
pinch of asafoetida

Dry roast each ingredient individually, let cool and grind to a fine powder. Store in the pantry for up to 1 month and in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Garlic and Long Pepper Rasam

The second recipe is more general, and makes about 500g of rasam powder. Again, the ingredients are dry roasted before grinding. When you make the rasam you can use toor dal or toor dal essence (the top water when cooking toor dal) to make the rasam. A general recipe follows and you can find others here.

General Roasted Rasam Powder

400g whole coriander seed
40g whole dried red chillies
40 g cumin seeds
10 g black mustard seeds
15 g black peppercorns
20 g fresh curry leaves
5 g asafoetida

Dry roast all the ingredients individually and allow to cool. Mix well and store in an airtight container. Grind when needed.

File 11-02-2016, 11 45 56.jpeg

A Warming Rasam Powder

Dry roast the following individually. Mix and store in an airtight container. Take and grind as needed.

400g coriander seeds
40g Indian dried red chillies
40g cumin seeds
10g black mustard seed
15g black peppercorns
20g curry leaves
5g asafoetida powder

Udupi Rasam Powder

Dry roast separately and grind to a powder: 7 red chillies, 0.5 cup coriander seeds, 0.25 cup cumin seeds, 0.5 Tblspn fenugreek seeds, 0.25 tspn asafoetida, 10 curry leaves, 1 tspn brown mustard seeds, 2 tspn black pepper. Grind with 0.5 tspn turmeric powder.

Poritha Rasam

Meenakshi Ammal in her books Cook and See has recipes for rasam powder. The amounts used are likely to have budding Indian cooks from the West shudder, but remember that rasam and sambar are daily items on every household’s menu. You can adjust ratios to suit your needs. Keep the powder in the fridge for longer life.

Her roasted powder is heavy on coriander, chilli and pepper corns, and the chillies are sauteed in ghee before grinding.

Alternative Roasted Rasam Powder

Gopium has an lovely way of describing another version of roasted rasam powder, as follows:

Take about 15 red chillies, remove the stalks, dab some cooking oil over them, and dry fry over a low flame till they puff up with self importance every so slightly.

Now dry roast 4 Tblspn coriander seeds, 2 Tblspn channa ka daal, and 2 Tblspn urad dal, till the urad turns golden.
Finally, dry roast 1 Tblspn tuvar dal, 1 Tblspn whole black pepper, and 1 Tblspn cumin seeds, till the black pepper begins crackling with excitement.

Grind these to a coarse powder.

Cumin Seeds and Pepper Rasam

Meenakshi Ammal’s Roasted Rasam Powder

8 cups of dried red chillies
3 cups coriander seed
0.5 cup toor dal
0.5 cups pepper corns
4 – 6 tspns ghee

Fry the red chillies in oil for a while. Grind them by hand or in a spice grinder or food processor until they form a smooth powder.

Amma recommends drying the coriander, pepper and dal in the sun.  I toss them quickly and individually in a dry hot pan – enough to dry them out and until they begin to omit a spicy aroma. Grind each one to a powder. If the coriander seed does not make a smooth powder, rub it through a sieve.

Mix the powders together. When using, because the chillies are fried, there is no need to boil the rasam as long after adding the powder to it. With a raw rasam powder, you would cook it longer.

recipe notes and alternatives
You can add turmeric to give a nice colour to the powder. Use 20 g of turmeric root and grind with the coriander seed, or use 20 g turmeric powder and mix with the other powders.

This powder should only be used for rasam, and not for sambar.

Adjust the ratios of the ingredients to your taste. These days the amount of chillies and pepper corns would be less.

General Rasam Recipe

Once you have a Rasam powder mixture, cook 125 g Toor dal in 1L water with 0.5 tspn of turmeric and 1 tspn ghee. Add tamarind water or lime juice with some salt and a small lump of jaggery to taste. Add 3 tspns of rasam powder. Cook over low flame for 10 minutes. Pop black mustard seeds in ghee, and add curry leaves and a pinch asafoetida powder. Add this tadka to the rasam. Sprinkle with coriander leaves.

Specific Rasam Recipes

 You can find our dozens of Rasam recipes here.




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Indian Essentials: What is Curry, Curry Powder and Curry Paste

Curry as a word does not exist in any Indian culinary dictionary, nor is it used in any Indian language. It is rather, a corruption of the Tamil word kari, used by Tamilians (from the region of Tamil Nadu in India) to represent any spiced relish used to accompany rice. During the days of the Raj, the British started to describe any Indian dish, including a liquid broth, a thicker stew, or even a dry dish, all of which appear as successive courses in a traditional South Indian meal as curry, a practice now followed world-wide, albeit incorrectly.

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Indian Essentials: How to Make Sambar Powder and Paste

Making spice powders at home is simple

Sambar is one of those beautiful unctuous creamy soupy dishes that are quintessentially South Indian. A sambar consists of mashed toor dal lentils cooked with fresh vegetables (optional), tamarind and spices. Eaten daily, the spice mixes used vary in content and flavour from house to house. Everyone claims to have the best recipe, and of course they are right. It is a very important dish to all South Indians, and vada sambar and idli sambar are popular breakfast foods.

Sambar powder can also be used in place of Rasam Powder when making Rasam.

Similar recipes include Sundakkai PodiRasam Powder, Malaysian Curry Powder and Sri Lankan Thuna Paha.

You might also be interested in the following articles:

You can find all of our Sambar Recipes and information here. Browse our other Spice Mix recipes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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Indian Essentials: How to Make Chaat Masala | A tangy spice mix

The masala (spice mix) that adds tang to Indian snacks.

Chaat Masaa is a very special spice mix from India, full of wonderful, contradictory flavours. There are many ways to use it, and it is an essential ingredient to many street foods, including the wonderful Chickpea (Channa) Chaat, Kachumber Salad and Channa Chaat on Kovalam Beach. You will also find it on Watermelon Salad, Borlotti Bean Chaat, Spicy Vegetable Sticks and Chickpeas and Young Ginger Salad.

Chaat or Chat are appetisers, teasers or small bites eaten as a snack. They are flavoured with this very special spicy and tart spice mix that pairs well with vegetables, lentils and fruit. It is particularly used to flavour fried pastries, potato dishes, chickpeas and tomato based salads.

You might also like to make Sambar Powder, Rasam Powder, and Garam Masala. Browse our Indian Essentials here, and all of our Indian recipes here.

There are many various recipes for Chaat Masala, this is our favourite.

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Indian Essentials: How to Make Garam Masala

Garam Masala is a wonderfully warm and versatile mix of spices used in a range of Indian dishes.

If you are even the smallest bit familiar with Indian food, you will have heard of Garam Masala. It is a wonderfully warm and versatile mix of spices used in a range of Indian dishes. Not necessarily spicy hot, it consists of spices that warm and nourish the body, such as cardamom, cloves and cinnamon.

Garam Masala is a mixture of spices, and the combinations vary with each household. They say it is basically Persian in origin, but is now indispensable in North Indian cuisine.

Garam Masala is particularly loved in the North where the winters are cold. It is not a prescriptive mix – it is open to interpretation with each region of India creating distinct blends with flavours characteristic of the region. A teaspoon of Garam Masala gives a North Indian character to any dish – try it with Basmati rice, or sprinkle it over cooked dishes.

The variety in recipes is easily explained. The cuisine varies so much across India that the spices in Garam Masala are chosen to best compliment the local foods. Each region and each family adjusts their mix to suit the flavours of the cuisine, personal preference and the dish being made. When you have such a large canvas of spices to choose from, why would you not do that?

Generally, but not always, Garam Masala is sprinkled over food towards the end of the cooking to retain its aroma.

The garam masala spices can also be used whole, but more traditionally, they are ground together in a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have one, a blender or spice grinder will do. If you want to use whole Garam Masala, try a rice dish in which you grind only the nutmeg and add the other spices into the rice water as it boils.

Are you looking for spice blends? Try Sundakkai Podi, Rasam Powder, Sambar Powder, Malaysian Curry Powder and Sri Lankan Thuna Paha.

Browse our other Spice Mix recipes. Our Indian recipes are here and our Indian Essentials here. Or take some time to browse our Late Spring recipes.

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