Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Chatni Pudi - The Authentic South Karnataka Style

Chatni Pudi is a highly essential condiment in any South Indian kitchen. It is like a tomato ketchup in western homes. It can be an awesome side dish to various breakfast items ranging from dosas to idlies to upmas and even pohas. And not to forget its contribution to lunch and dinner - mixing a spoonful of chatni pudi with a generous serving of rice with ghee/oil fills in for any lack of side dish on days. Or just use it as a pickle with some curd rice. And even with enough side dishes, chatni pudi will always have its scope to make it to almost all meals!

There is a different charm and a character in home-made spice powders, if you ask me. Even with the recipe being the same, spice powders of each house will have a signature of that household. The store bought ones do manage to help when there is a time crisis, but homemade is always homemade! And I’ve always been used to homemade powders, be it mom or MIL.

One of the many advantages I had of staying with in-laws was that I never had to bother about Spice powders! Even before I’d notice that one of the many spice powders was running out, it’d be filled up one evening when I returned home! And if at all I was around when MIL was making them, she’d send me out of the kitchen as she felt I was too young and couldn’t take the strong smell and dust of roasting and powdering chilies…

So as expected, when we moved here, our bags were stuffed with jars/packs of various powders - rasam powder, sambhar powder/huLi pudi, menthyada hittu and of course chatni pudi, from both our moms. How long can a jar of tasty, colorful, flavorful chatni pudi last, especially in a foreign land when two foodies are missing our dear Bangalore? Of course it ended sooner than it would back home! And I knew it was something I had to make, at least to overcome the ‘missing-home’ feeling for a while!

So a call to mom and one to MIL, (they both have slightly different process), and how can yours truly not add her own signature to it? Well, the jar is already seeing the bottom, in just about a month’s time since I made it, so that explains it :) Here it is, my version, adapted from both of them and it came out wonderfully well.

Chatni Pudi - The Authentic South Karnataka Style 

Cooking time: 15 min
Preparation time: ~30 min
Makes about 3-4 cups
Lasts for a few months when stored in airtight container, i.e., if you let it last that long!

Bengal Gram dal/Chana dal/kadale bele - 1 cup
Black gram dal / Urad dal/ uddina bele - 1 cup
Dry red chilies - about 20; I use a mix of byadagi and guntoor
Curry leaves - 1 bunch with a handful of sprigs
Asafetida - one big generous pinch
Dry coconut - 1 cup; I used desiccated coconut 
Tamarind - a small lime sized ball
Jaggery  - 1-2 tsp, crushed
Salt - ~2 tsp

Oil - 2 Tbsp
Curry leaves - a couple of sprigs
Asafetida - a big pinch
Dry coconut - ½ cup; optional; If using here, reduce the quantity of coconut above

  • In a large skillet, dry roast chana dal and urad dal separately till it starts changing color and raw smell disappears
  • Transfer to a big platter on one side
  • In the same skillet, roast the red chilies, curry leaves and asafetida till aromatic; transfer to another side of the same platter
  • Next, roast the dry coconut till light golden brown; if using dry coconut, slice it into thick pieces and roast; it will get powdered later
  • Break the tamarind into small pieces and roast it on low flame for a couple of minutes, and transfer
  • Allow all these to cool down for about 15-20 minutes
  • When cool, start grinding the ingredients one by one. Start with the dals and powder them coarsely.
  • Make sure not to make it into fine powder, keeping it a little coarse adds to the texture
  • Transfer to a big bowl
  • Next powder the red chili, curry leaves mixture and transfer to the same bowl
  • Similarly powder the tamarind and salt next, make this as fine as possible so that it gets mixed well
  • Finally mixie the jaggery and coconut together and transfer to the same bowl
  • Now, mix all the ground ingredients with hand in the bowl. The mixture now looks very pale, with a dull color.
  • Taste it and if you feel it needs something, add it now - salt or more jaggery. It should have a balanced taste of all four elements
  • Once done, transfer the mixture again to the mixie jar in parts and run it for a few seconds each, till it is well mixed. This step gives the chatni pudi that awesome attractive color and look
Tempering: optional
  • Heat oil in a small pan, add mustard and allow to splutter
  • Add the asafetida and curry leaves and fry till crisp
  • Add a pinch of turmeric
  • You can add some more grated coconut here, but it is optional
  • Add it to the chatni pudi and give it a good mix
  • Allow it to cool for an hour or so, and then store it in an air tight jar. It stays fresh for a few months
  • Using byadagi red chilies gives it a beautiful color and guntoor variety gives heat; we use a combination of both
  • In mom’s version there is no tempering at the end, and full coconut and curry leaves are added while grinding whereas in my MIL’s version, they are added along with tempering as well


  1. Finger-licking chutney podi! Like the addition of byadagi chilli:)

  2. Sure to try this aromatic version!! Nice & neat clicks :)
    Prathima Rao
    Prats Corner

  3. My mom makes it almost the same way sans jaggery. I am glad you get curry leaves.

  4. Incredible and definitely a must in my home.

  5. I tried this chutney pudi and it tasted very authentic with jaggery.I have given a link to this recipe in my blog. Hope you won't mind.


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