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


  1. Wow, looks great! I have a question, though. When you grind with the wet tamarind, wouldn’t it clump up in the blender? Does it cause problems with the grinding?

I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. Do leave me a comment.