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Nalla Karam Podi

Print version of Nalla Karam Podi

Nalla Karam Podi ~ Andhra Style

nalla karam recipe
Nalla Karam Podi

Nalla Karam literally translates to ‘Black chili powder’ in Telugu. Andhra cuisine boasts of a variety of spiced powders like gun powder aka kandi podi, karam podi, sesame seeds powder, dry coconut powder and curry leaves powder. It is similar to Karam podi yet different in terms of looks, texture and flavor. Each home has its own version of podis and over the years we have been trying out various permutations and combinations trying to achieve that ‘perfect podi’.

nalla karam podi recipe
Dry roasted spices ready to be ground

Red chilis that are slow roasted to a dark shade, roasted curry leaves and black gram dal with husk are the main ingredients which give the podi its dark shade. Coriander seeds, tamarind and raw garlic give the podi a wonderful texture and flavor. I love the flavor of raw garlic that is blended well into the roasted ingredients. It enhances the flavor of Nalla Karam by leaps and bounds. This podi is best served with hot steamed rice and a dollop of ghee or gingelly oil. It also makes for a delectable side with idli. Liberally sprinkle the podi on the warm idlis, drizzle some gingelly oil or ghee and relish. :)

nalla karam
Idli sprinkled with Andhra Nalla Karam and Gingelly oil

Nalla Karam Podi Recipe

Prep time: 15 min
Cook time: 20 min
Serves: 10
Main Ingredients: black gram dal red chilis


  • Coriander seeds - 1/2 cup
  • Black gram dal - 2 1/2 tbsps, with husk
  • Chana dal - 1 tbsp, heaped
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Dry red chilis - 9-10, de-seed (adjust to suit your spice level)
  • Curry leaves - 1 cup (you can reduce to 1/4-1/2 cup) - optional
  • Garlic pods - 4-5
  • Tamarind - small lemon sized ball
  • Salt - 1 tsp
  • Oil - 3-4 tsps
  • Ghee - 1 tsp (vegans can use oil)


  1. Heat 1/2 tsp oil in a heavy bottomed vessel, add cumin seeds. Saute till brown and remove to a wide plate.
  2. In the same vessel, add 1/2 tsp oil. Once hot, reduce flame and add chana dal and roast till light brown. Remove to a plate.
  3. In the same vessel, add 1/2 tsp oil, add black gram dal and roast well till the color changes on low flame. Remove to a plate.
  4. In the same vessel, add 1/2 tsp oil, add red chilis and roast till dark in color and remove to a plate.
  5. In the same vessel, add 1/2 tsp oil, add coriander seeds and roast till color changes to a dark brown shade. Remove to a plate.
  6. In the same vessel, add 1/2 tsp oil, add curry leaves and saute till they change color. Do not burn them. Remove to a plate.
  7. In the same vessel, add 1/2 tsp oil, add tamarind and lightly roast it for a few seconds. Cool all the roasted ingredients.
  8. First grind the dals, red chilis, cumin and coriander seeds to a coarse powder. Add curry leaves and tamarind and grind for a few seconds. Do not grind too much.
  9. Finally add raw garlic and salt and grind for 10-15 seconds. It should be a coarse powder as shown in the picture above.
  10. Heat ghee in a vessel and add the coarsely ground powder to it and on very slow flame, roast the powder for 2 mts. Turn off flame and remove to a wide plate and cool.
  11. Store in an air tight container. Serve as and when required with rice, idli and dosa.


  • Do not over roast or burn the spices. Roast on low flame only.
  • You can substitute tamarind with a tsp of dry mango powder.
  • Curry leaves have to be washed and dried in the shade for a couple of hours before roasting them on low flame.

Nalla Karam Podi, a typical Andhra style preparation similar to gun powder.Tamarind, garlic, red chilis & urad dal are key players of this tasty tangy podi.

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By • Aug 26th, 2013 • Category: All Recipes, Andhra Recipes, Indian Vegan Recipes, Indian Vegetarian Recipes, Podi Recipes