Nalla Kharam – Spicy Podi for Idli, Dosa or Rice!

Nalla Kharam for Idli, Dosa, or Rice
Nalla Kharam

Think of a spicy accompaniment for Idli or Dosa, and most people think of the traditional, Khara Podi (aka Molaga Podi). My favourite, however, is Andhra Nalla Kharam; a name which literally means Black Chilly Powder. 🙂

The relatively bland Idli or Dosa serves as the perfect vehicle to enjoy this absolutely delicious and spicy powder. Another great way that Andhra’s relish Nalla Kharam is to mix it with some rice and ghee.  On a more serious note, the curry leaves and coriander seeds in this spice blend are give one a good dose of calcium, carotene, potassium and Vitamin C. Given that Nalla Kharam is almost always eaten with ghee, a person can get a good dose of Calcium in one shot.

Read more about the nutritive value of various spices on this webpage maintained by the Spices Board of India.

Apart from being nutritious, Nalla Kharam is absolutely delicious!

Time: 30 minutes


  1. Dhania or Coriander Seeds – 1/4 cup
  2. Fresh Curry Leaves – 3/4 cup
  3. Udad Dal – 2 tbsp
  4. Red Chillies – 8 to 10
  5. Tamarind – 1/2″ ball
  6. Oil – 1 tbsp
  7. Salt to Taste


  1. Wash the curry leaves and spread them on a newspaper or cotton cloth.
  2. Let the curry leaves dry completely.
  3. In a heavy bottom vessel, heat 1 tbsp oil.
  4. Turn the heat to medium-low.
  5. Add the whole red chillies and stir-fry till chillies start to turn a dar red color.
  6. Remove the chillies and set aside.
  7. Add udad dal and fry till light golden brown.
  8. Add the coriander seeds and stir-fry for about 3-5 minutes till the seeds start to change colour.
  9. Add the curry leaves and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes till the leaves start to change colour and turn crisp.
  10. Turn off the heat.
  11. Add the tamarind and red chillies.
  12. Let the mix cool completely.
  13. Grind the spice mix to a coarse powder.
  14. Add salt and mix well.
  15. Store the Nalla Kharam in an airtight bottle.

How to Eat Nalla Kharam

  • Serve Nalla Karam by itself along with idli or dosa.
  • If you are in a decadent mood (or even otherwise), mix 1 tsp of Nalla Kharam with 1 tsp of melted ghee. Have this delicious mix with idli or dosa.
  • At the start of a meal,  mix 1 tsp of Nalla Kharam and 1 tsp of melted ghee with 1/4 cup hot cooked rice. Savour every morsel. This is my favourite way. 🙂


  • 1 make small batches of Nalla Kharam and use it up within 5 to 7 days because it becomes less aromatic as time passes. 🙂
Andhra Nalla Kharam for Idli, Dosa, or Rice
Andhra Nalla Kharam for Idli, Dosa, or Rice

Khara Podi, Molaga Podi, or Idli Chutney Powder – 1

Idli Chutney Powder or Molaga Podi or Khara Podi
Idli Chutney Powder or Molaga Podi or Khara Podi

Molaga Podi, Khara Podi, or Idli Chutney Podi is a staple in most South Indian homes and a subject of intense fascination for non-South Indians. For as long as I can remember, all my non-South Indian friends want me to get them Idli with Chutney Powder or the Coconut Chutney.

I love homemade Khara Podi or Molaga Podi because then I can control how spicy it is. On days when I want to have something smokin’, I can spice it up while for regular use I can make it moderately spicy.

Well, people who know me will tell you I eat Idli and Dosa as accompaniments to Khara Podi or Coconut Chutney. In fact, in almost all cases, I love accompaniments more than the main dish. 🙂


  1. Minapa Pappu, Udad Dal or Husked Black Gram – 1 Cup
  2. Senaga Pappu, Chana Dal or Husked Bengal Gram – 3/4 Cup
  3. Dried Red Chillies – 1/2 Cup
  4. Asafoetida – 1/2 tsp
  5. Oil – 1.5 tsp
  6. Salt to Taste


  1. In a wok or kadhai, heat the oil.
  2. Add the udad dal and chana dal.
  3. Over medium heat, stir-fry till light brown.
  4. Add the split red chillies and fry till the dals are golden brown.

    Khara Podi or Mulaga Podi or Idli Chutney Podi - Fried Mix
    Khara Podi or Mulaga Podi or Idli Chutney Podi – Fried Mix
  5. Turn off the heat.
  6. Add the asafoetida and mix well.
  7. Let the fried dal-chillies mix cool completely.
  8. Grind to a semi-coarse powder.
  9. Add salt and mix well.
  10. Store in an air-tight bottle or jar.
  11. To use, mix 1 tsp of khara podi or molaga podi with 1 tsp of sesame oil.
  12. Serve with hot idlis or dosa.


  • If you do not want to use oil, dry roast each dal and the chillies separately.
  • If you use oil, do not add more oil no matter what the temptation. You will have an oily mess on your hands.
  • As one of my uncles says, you know you have good and spicy khara podi if, and only if, it makes you cough when you first grind it. 😀 😀