In search of the perfect 'podis'

Made In Mangalore

Journalist and writer Subha J Rao launched her range of homemade spice powders in May this year, under the brand name Made In Mangalore. “During the second wave, I was sending homemade meals to COVID-19 patients in Mangaluru. Volunteering took its toll because I could not help beyond a point. I began to feel frustrated, and nothing felt like it was in my control. It was then that I decided to try making something where I could control the outcome. I ended up making different varieties of podi,” says Subha, adding “Until that point, I had never attempted to make any podi on my own. It was either my mother-in-law or mother who sent me a steady supply of podi round the year and I had assumed that this arrangement would continue. The second wave shook me up and the reality sunk in.”

In search of the perfect 'podis'

Subha made idli podi with a twist, with kollu (horse gram) brought by her domestic help from her farm, and shared it with friends. Encouraged by the positive response, she started making curry leaf powder and horsegram powder as well. “Gradually I standardised eight different podis. The rasam and sambar podi are recipes from my mother and the multi-purpose gojju podi is an heirloom recipe from my grandmother,” she says..She adds that she sources all raw material from farmers in Karnataka as well as from organic stores in Mangaluru. She uses brown salt sourced from Sanikatta village, near Gokarna in Karnataka and Byadgi chillies, a variety grown in Karnataka. “Byadgi chillies are GI tagged and their speciality is that they are fierce red in colour but more flavourful than hot," says Subha. “Podi is like a building block and can be used the way you want. It is up to your imagination and requirement.”

Shipping across India. Instagram: @MadeinMangalore. Call: 9894210027

Just Sides, Chennai

Prasanna Venkatesh is a Chennai-based entrepreneur-turned-home chef, who along with his wife J Deepika, launched Just Sides in September last year. He had been contemplating on trying his luck in the food business since 2016, even as he was running an e-learning company in Chennai along with his father. “Since 2016, we have been making pasta sauces and hummus, but it was during the lockdown that we launched our brand and began to offer a range of products. We began to experiment and standardise the podi recipes more recently,” says Prasanna. A fresh batch of podi is prepared once a fortnight, ranging from three to five kilograms depending on the pre-order.

In search of the perfect 'podis'

“Roasting is the trickiest part of the process and I have gained expertise in the art,” chuckles Prasanna, who was initially apprehensive about getting into the podi segment as multiple brands of the product were easily available in the market. “But homemade podis are a cut above the rest, as we have stringent quality control when it comes to sourcing raw material. Our customers use our peanut chilli powder as a garnish for a salad, as accompaniment for idli or dosa, and even mix it with plain rice. Some of them mix oil and water to the powder granules and use it like chutney or a dip,” he says. Their bestsellers are peanut chilli, curry podi, and paruppu podi.

Shipping across India. Instagram: @just.sides. Call: 9962625498.

The Manduva Project, Annadevarapeta

Twenty-seven-year-old Neha Alluri was working in the area of social development consulting in Delhi. When the pandemic struck, she shifted her focus on the farmers and their families in her native village of Annadevarapeta, in Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district. “Hailing from an agriculture background, our family is involved in the edible oil business. As I had access to farmers in our native village, Annadevarapeta, West Godavari district, I was keen on supporting the farming community and providing them incentive during the pandemic,” says Neha.

In search of the perfect 'podis'

“The culture of elder women in the family making podi, pickles and vadiyalu (rice crisps) is waning gradually due to various reasons. And especially those in urban areas have no idea about these spice mix or podis, and therefore I wanted to offer authentic good quality products from our farm, under the brand name The Manduva Project,” says Neha. As the basic infrastructure was already in existence, at her aunts residence in that village, Neha decided to get the women from the community involved in developing various products such as podi, pickles and rice crisps. “Women assemble in a commonplace within the farm and make the products under the supervision of my aunt, whose recipes are followed. Some of the recipes are by other women in the group, but all recipes are tweaked slightly to suit pan Indian customers,” she adds.“My idea was to bring in a rural connect with the urban population we cater to. Most of our customers are young people who prefer to cook in less time, with fewer ingredients and complications. Our coconut chilli podi and coriander podi can be used to sprinkle over grilled chicken or even as salad dressing,” says Neha. The Mandova Project has seven types of podis, eight varieties of pickles and five types of rice crisps. Bestsellers are peanut, moringa and sesame powders.

Shipping across India. Instagram: @theManduvaproject. Call: 7337318106

Mylapore Kitchens,Chennai

Subhasri Natesan came to Chennai in 1995 to pursue an undergraduate course at NIFT, and later got married and settled here. But many of her cherished memories are rooted in Palakkad, where she was raised. Mylapore Kitchens is a blend of both influences. While she began her textile retailing, many years ago, she ended up making podis and ready to use spice mixes (pastes and podis that can be mixed with cooked rice) more recently only.

In search of the perfect 'podis'

“My husband’s grandmother and his mother were great cooks and from them, I learnt the art of roasting and adding the right ratio of ingredients. Having learnt the basics, I started making sambar and rasam podi and shared them with friends for feedback. Gradually, I built on the product range,” says Subhasri. Her website,, lists over 20 types of podi, Palakkad style pickles and jackfruit appalam. “There is a huge demand for homemade preservative-free podis, and the bestsellers thus far have been the 12 types of rasam powders. There is a subtle difference in the Tanjore and Palakkad style of mixes we offer, and we see that demand has been consistently growing, mainly due to an increasing interest in home-style cooking,” she says. For the upcoming festival season, they are offering gift hampers.

Shipping across India and overseas. Instagram: @Mylaporekitchens. Call: 9003183002

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 3:27:40 PM |

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