Gunpowder: The Fiery Andhra-Style Condiment You Cannot Miss
Image Credit: Instagram/@reenyjogy; idlis served with gunpowder

A little detour from the regular Masala Dosa and Idli Sambar will take you to other versions of these favourite South Indian dishes that are spicier and, in a way, more delicious. But how would you know that you are tasting one? Easy. It’s when you hear the famous word, podi or pudi. Podi Dosa and Podi Idli are delicacies spiced with milagai podi - a coarse condiment, primarily made using lentils and red chilies. If not generously sprinkled on top of your dosa or idli, it can be mixed with ghee or sesame oil and served as an accompaniment. The spicy chutney powder comprises roasted urad and chana dal, dry red chillies, sesame seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and salt. While podi is a staple in almost every household across Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the Andhra-style podi - popularly known as Gunpowder - is the undisputed star!

Also known as Putnala Pappu Podi, the sensationally appetising Gunpowder is traditionally served with meals/thalis (apart from dosa and idli) in South Indian homes and even at restaurants. Besides the ingredients mentioned above, the Andhra-style spicy chutney powder also uses cumin seeds, garlic and dry coconut. Easy to prepare, Gunpowder can be stored for up to a few weeks. The colour of the podi - orangish to beige - may vary on the basis of the different quantities of ingredients that go into it. Interestingly, its use is not limited to dishes from the southern part of the country. Thanks to the spicy blend’s versatility, Gunpowder can be the perfect ingredient to spice up your upma; egg toast or avocado toast; stir-fried vegetables; and can also be used to enhance the flavour of your chicken or mutton curry.

The podi trail doesn’t end here. South India boasts many different types of podis. Among the popular ones are Chettinad Palakara Podi, Kandi Podi, Nalla Karam Podi, Garlic Podi, Karuveppilai Podi, Sambar Podi and Rasam Podi.

If you are a fan of Andhra-style cuisine, you would know that their culinary repertoire is dominated by chillies and spices. In fact, the famous Andhra Bhojanam is an interesting mix of spicy, tangy and sweet flavours. It’s not only about the taste and aroma, the use of spices has lent a distinct identity to this style of cuisine. The delicacies of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are characterised by a generous amount of chillies. Did you know the much talked about Guntur chilli is known worldwide for its heat and pungent taste? 

Apart from the podis, most Telugu-speaking households in the two states also love their succulent pickles. The traditional Andhra-style pickles are called Avakaaya. Mamidi Avakaaya (mango pickle), Usirikaya Avakaaya (gooseberry), Nimmakaya Avakaaya (lemon), Allam Vellulli Avakaaya (mango with ginger-garlic paste), Mukkala Pachadi Avakaaya (chopped mango), Pandu Mirapakaya Pachadi (red chilli) and Tomato Nilava Pachadi are among the top choices. 

While the chillies and spices used in the podi surely wake up your palate, like in other parts of the country, the nuances in terms of taste and aroma of the condiment varies from place to place and even between families within the states.