Read on for Gjusta Grocer manager Nina Subhas' family recipe for Molaga Pudi (or, Magic Powder), an add-to-anything spice topping blend that elevates a humble dish into a special experience.
She explains, “When my dad immigrated to the US from Hyderabad he could not cook, and Pittsburgh was not an easy place for a vegetarian, so he used to call his sister in Pasadena and she would help him figure out what he could cook for himself. He ended up with a small but mighty arsenal of dishes that he could cook for himself that tasted like home.”
“When I was growing up we had a well stocked spice cabinet, with whole spices and lentils but also a few spice mixes that my dad would make, or his sister would send to him. This one we usually would eat with idlis or rice, mixed with a little neutral oil, but my dad always called it “magic powder” — it’s spicy, salty, crunchy…all of the things!”
“Later, when I was living on my own and in times where I was working too much to bother with groceries, or scraping money together, I always had rice and magic powder my pantry, and it always filled my stomach and tasted like home. Now I like it best sprinkled on mango, or to dunk anything starchy like idlis, or flatbreads.”
Nina’s Mologa Pudi (Magic Powder)
Ingredients: 1 cup red chiles 1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds 1 cup chana dhal 1 cup urad dhal Asafoetida to taste Salt to taste
To prepare, roast the lentils, chiles, and seeds separately until golden. Grind together to medium/coarse consistency, season to taste with asafoetida (just a tiny bit to start!) and salt.
To serve, pile a tablespoon of the spice blend in a shallow dish and mix with a glug of olive oil as a dip for anything starchy (bread, rice, or flatbread).
Alternatively, sprinkle on top of mango, or atop a grain and veggie bowl, or atop scrambled eggs. Experiment and make it your own — the beauty is in the versatility.