Molaha Podi: South Indian Gunpowder Chutney

Molaha podi: South Indian gunpowder chutney

The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 30 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
35 Calories
2g Fat
3g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 35
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 3%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 66mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 3g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 4%
Total Sugars 1g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 9mg 47%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 61mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The famous South Indian gunpowder chutney (or molaha podi) is indeed spicy hot—its explosive flavor is what gives it its name. The dry red chile peppers in this chutney create the heat, so it is not for the faint of heart. It's a dry chutney, as opposed to the chunky, relish-like type, and it's commonly found in South Indian cuisine.

While it is traditionally mixed in oil and enjoyed with many breakfast items including idlis (steamed South Indian rice cakes), dosas (crispy savory South Indian rice pancakes), or uttapams (savory rice and lentils pancakes) and sambar, get creative. Use it anywhere you want to add heat. Because it's a powder, you can sprinkle gunpowder chutney on top of various foods that you'd like to spice up. Use it creatively, on top of things such as bagels with cream cheese, scrambled eggs, or even on a sandwich.

One favorite and very simple way to enjoy gunpowder chutney is sprinkled on top of a serving of a cooked long-grained, fragrant rice such as basmati. Drizzle the whole dish with a spoonful of ghee (clarified butter) and you have got yourself an extremely simple yet delicious meal. Gunpowder chutney is also excellent with rotis and chapatis, too.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, canola oil, or sunflower oil

  • 1/4 cup chana dal, large split yellow lentils

  • 3 tablespoons urad dal, skinless

  • 5 dried red chiles or more, to taste, if you want more heat

  • 3 tablespoons sesame seeds

  • Salt, to taste

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for molaha podi: South Indian gunpowder chutney recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  2. Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add the dals and dry red chiles and toast over very low heat until they start to turn light brown.

    Dals and dry red chiles and toasting in a pan

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  3. Add the sesame seeds and keep roasting until the seeds turn golden. Turn off the heat.

    Sesame seeds added to the mixture in the pan

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  4. Use a coffee grinder or food processor to grind the roasted ingredients to a coarse powder (not chunky and not flour-like either, but in between).

    Grind the roasted ingredient mixture in a coffee grinder

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii

  5. Remove to a serving bowl and add salt to taste. Add sugar and stir well to mix.

    Molaha podi: South Indian gunpowder chutney in a bowl

    The Spruce Eats / Ahlam Raffii


There are many ways to make gunpowder chutney, and you may encounter versions called gunpowder masala. They vary based on the spices and other ingredients, such as cumin, turmeric, curry leaves, tamarind, salt, garlic, peanuts, dried coconut, and flaxseed.


  • Gunpowder chutney works well when served with idlis (steamed South Indian rice cakes) or dosas (crispy savory South Indian rice pancakes) and sambar.
  • You can also simply sprinkle it on plain boiled basmati rice and drizzle it with ghee, which is a common and favored way to eat it.

How to Store Gunpowder Chutney

The gunpowder chutney will last at least one week when stored in an airtight container, but it's possible to keep it longer; the pungency will just weaken a bit as time passes.

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