Saturday, May 18, 2019

Milagu Jeeraga Podi / Pepper-Cumin Powder

Milagu Jeeraga podi is one thing that is very common in Iyengar / Iyer cuisine.  This is made instantly and enjoyed most of the days during the rainy season. Freshly ground spice mix served over hot-hot rice with a generous dollop of ghee...... amazing taste. We used to have power cuts too. So, moms didn't need a mixer or blender to make it. With a mortar and pestle (Indian style), cumin and pepper are crushed coarsely and a pinch of salt is mixed to make an amazing spice mix that is addictive. Those days there were no inverters for electricity supply when there is a power outage. When it is raining hard and there is no electricity, we know what would be our dinner. The whole family sitting around the lantern or candle talking and enjoying hot-hot rice with milagu jeeraga podi, the pounding rain, and the darkness did not stop our fun. We had an amazing time. As a kid, darkness scared me (still remember, after having dinner, mom or my brother had to accompany me to wash hand in the sink...used to be that scared of darkness. They used to pull me a lot for this but thinking back now....brings a big days!). But sitting around the lantern talking and enjoying brought so much comfort that you slowly come out of your shell. We all used to sit around the lantern and do our homework while mom used another lantern to cook in the kitchen. When she announces that dinner is ready, we immediately clean up our books, set our plates, and get ready for a great time. Those days in every household, a couple of lanterns would be cleaned and kept ready for power outages during the rainy season. The soot will be cleaned with a mixture of flour and soft white cloth to make it ready for the next use. I too have tried to help my mom clean when I was little. The family time was so built around nature. Life was uncomplicated and simple just to be enjoyed. Rain or sun, days were filled with lots of small things to be enjoyed and cherished. 

 The spice mix is so versatile that it is added in rasam, soups, or veggie gravies (kootu). This can be stored in airtight containers and can be used for the rest of the week too. The aroma and flavor stay long but it is great to enjoy freshly made smaller batches since it can be made in a jiffy.


Cumin - 1/2 cup
Pepper - 1/4 cup
Salt a pinch


In a blender, take cumin alone and give a couple of rounds. It takes a little bit more time for it to get crushed when compared to pepper. Once it is half crushed, add the pepper and grind to a coarse powder. Make sure that it is not finely powdered. 

A pinch of salt can be added and mixed. Serve with hot rice and melted ghee. Add salt according to your requirements when you mix with rice. This spice mixture doesn't take too much salt and will be salty even if you add 1/4 tsp to the entire mixture. Adjust according to your salt requirements.


If you mix salt with the powder, and use this for rasam or veggie curries, adjust salt in the rasam or curry accordingly.

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