Mysore Saaru Podi

The South Indian staple Spice Mix

Ideally, this should have been one of my first few blog posts considering how staple Rasam or Saaru is in our household. Though there is a world of difference between Rasam and Saaru, for all practical purposes they are taken for granted and used interchangeably. A rule of thumb to distinguish the two is that Saaru always has cooked pigeon peas or Toor dal in it wheres Rasam is as watery as can be, made with just the lentil stock. Also, Saaru is very much a Karnataka food and Rasam typically of Tamilnadu.

Saaru is the very monicker of our quintessential everyday food. On most days, there’s Anna (rice), Saaru and everything else is prepared around those two basic pillars of our South Indian meal. A simple Anna-Saaru and a beans palya (green beans stir fry with fresh grated coconut) can make me feel at home wherever I am.

This recipe is from my grand dad’s kitchen and is always a yard stick of sorts for me. During my grand mother’s days, preparation of this Saaru Podi was a sacrosanct event for which, a good day on the Hindu calendar would be chosen. There were even forbidden days like Tuesdays and Fridays and times to avoid like dusk and dawn, most of most of which is followed in my grand dad’s house even today.

Also, as they say, there is a method to the madness, apparently, there is a particular order and method to follow to get the most flavorful Saaru Podi. If you read through the recipe, notice how the ingredients are paired and roasted in a particular order? Once I followed, I realized that there is some logic to it like Dhania and Curry leaves need just about the same time to be roasted and so do fenugreek and hing. Dry roast them any longer and they’ll burn. Who knew?

Saaru is something that becomes a topic of of our long distance conversations as well. You can imagine how even when she’s far away, Amma (mom) always checks on me to know if I make Saaru on a regular basis here. She says, Saaru has all the ingredients required for a good digestive and immune system and that eating Saaru everyday is like half the battle won in preventing cough, cold and other routine digestive problems. Right, she is. Saaru Podi has its roots in Ayurveda and every single ingredient truly has a medicinal property to boast of.

In all these years of marriage, I must have made this spice mix on my own, about twice at the max. I would always get a big stash from home and never really had the need to make one myself from scratch. Besides, in my mind, Rasam podi was always associated with a mental block that it is very difficult to make or it is super time consuming or that the one I made would never be good enough like my mom’s.

None of them are true, fortunately or unfortunately. I’ve realized that myself.

Making my own Saaru Podi has been a happy trip down the satisfaction lane and I would love to travel there as often as possible.

Nothing quite packs the punch much like a freshly ground home made spice mix.

So tell me, do you buy MTR Rasam powder or would you like to make your own?

Mysore Saaru Podi Recipe

Printable Recipe

Makes approx 300 gms

Things you’ll need:

About 2 cups Dried Red chillies (approx. 50-60) (ideally a mix of Byadagi and Guntur)

1 cup Coriander seeds / Dhania

1/4 cup Fenugreek /methi seeds

1/4 cup black peppercorn

1/4 cup cumin seeds / jeera

1-1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

2 pieces, about 1inch each, cinnamon

about 1 cup Curry leaves, loosely packed

1/4 tsp good quality asafoetida / hing (I use SSP)

1/2 tsp ghee

1 tsp oil

other:

Spcie grinder

How it’s done:

Heat oil in a kadai or wok and roast the red chillies on low-medium heat. Use two ladles and roast by lifting the chillies from the sides until they are very hot to the touch. Let the chillies not burn or the chilli fumes will take over the kitchen. Spread on a plate and keep aside.

Add coriander seeds and curry leaves immediately into the kadai and dry roast on medium heat until curry leaves are wilted and so dry that they crumble when pinched, but still retain their green color. Remove these onto the red chillies itself so the chillies are kept warm enough to be ground.

Add ghee to the kadai followed by black peppercorns and roast on medium heat until the spluttering frequency reduces but does not stop. Remove on to the plate.

Add fenugreek seeds and hing and dry roast on medium heat until fenugreek seeds turn golden brown. Any more roasting will turn them very bitter. Remove on to the plate.

Add cumin seeds and cinnamon and dry roast on medium heat until flavorful and the spluttering frequency reduces but does not stop. Remove on to the plate.

Lastly, dry roast mustard seeds till they begin to splutter. Remove on to the plate.

Grind all the roasted ingredients on the plate in a spice grinder or any Indian mixie (dry jar) until finely powdered. Let the jar cool before opening. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool dry place.

Notes

Use a mixture of mild and hot varieties of red chilli like Guntur(hot) and Byadagi (mild). Read more notes on this in Bisibelebath recipe

AVOID dry roasting all ingredients together as it results in uneven roasting or burning of ingredients.

If you wish to make a smaller batch, a 4:1 ratio should work well between coriander seeds and cumin, fenugreek and black pepper. Adjust proportion for the other ingredients accordingly.

Avoid dry roasting red chillies or they’ll emanate pungent, choking fumes.

If you feel the spice mix turned out to be short of red chillies or doesn’t taste hot enough, you can always adjust by roasting some extra chillies, grind to a fine powder and grind once again together with the Podi to get it all mixed well.

If you happen to make Rasam only once in a while, then consider storing it in the freezer. That way, the spice mix will retain all of its flavor without tasting like just wood husk.

SSP brand hing is available in Bangalore – Mysore areas as far as I know. LG brand is available even in the US.


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27 thoughts on “Mysore Saaru Podi

  1. Saarina Pudi Sakkataagide Radhika. I make saarina pudi at home. I follow my ajji’s recipe to the T. I find this recipe to be almost similar to my ajji’s saarina pudi recipe. The only difference is she does not add cinnamon. I would love give your version a try the next time I make it :)

    • Thank you..
      Eshtu dinagalu aadvu Nandita.. Happy to see you stop by..
      You are such a staunch supporter and I always look forward to your thoughts and comments..
      Oh, Wow! Ajji recipe.. kaapaadkolli.. that is like treasure..
      Hope you have written down all her recipes..

  2. Radhika! I am so so glad you have posted a saaru pudi recipe here!
    I didn’t grow up eating ‘saaru’ like the Bangalore Mysore kind. We had our own saarus which don’t really have a spice mixture. We grind fresh masala for our coconut based curries everyday so we never really made powders and stock them. I am sure that has something do with with our humid weather as well.
    But after coming to Bangalore I have been in love with all kinds of pudis and saarus :) My MIL makes her own sambar pudi and gives me some every time she makes some. Though I have never made it myself, she game me the very detailed recipe which she wanted to make sure I learn! I have been busying MTR rasam powder but recently I wanted to make some myself and looked around the internet for a good recipe. Nothing sounded convincing so I bought some rasam pudi from a local store where they sell homemade pudis.
    I shall never buy rasam pudi again :D I just know your recipe will be the BEST!

    I have a recipe request Radhika, can you please share a good puliyogare gojju recipe?? PLEASE!

    • How so glad to hear that, Chin..
      Try you must and let me know how it turns out..
      Every household has their own secret blend, just like every house likes their coffee their way..
      So, I’m sure you’ll start making your MIL’s recipe as well.. you’ll make out the differences that make them unique.
      As far as Puliogre is concerned, it has definitely come up the priority list. So, I shall definitely try to post as soon as practically possible..

  3. Great photos! I’m afraid I don’t know much about regional Indian cooking, so I’m a little confused. The Saaru recipe seems like a spice mixture, but in the first paragraph of the post Saaru sounds like a dish with pigeon peas, or something that accompanies “Anna” (rice?). Could you clarify? Is Saaru used like the word “curry” in the United States, meaning either a specific spice mixture – or a dish flavored with it? Sorry to be so obtuse. Again, really lovely photos. Ken

    • Not at all Ken. That’s a perfectly valid question and yes, that analogy is good partly.
      Saaru is a dish where Saaru Podi (spice mix) is one of the ingredients that flavors it.
      Like you rightly mentioned, I was talking about the dish to start with. Hope this clarifies..

  4. Very nice depiction Radhika! It is always ground in a “mill” in Indai…never knew it can be done at home and the same consistency can be achieved!

  5. Like in every south indian home, my mom makes different types of rasam and she uses different types of podis for it. But there is one common rasam podi at home for the regular tomato rasam. It has pepper corns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds in it. I am loving your recipe too. What brilliant pictures Radhika! I loved the first one the most.

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