Saturday, February 09, 2008

Huli Pudi

For a few months, the Arusuvai friendship chain has been active among food bloggers in India, pioneered by the Yum blog and Bhags and Bharathy, with the premise that food bloggers send little surprise ingredients to each other. After all, the pantry of each avid home cook is full of coveted treasures and to share these with people that you have come to know virtually is a lot of fun.

I have been watching from the sidelines as all sorts of mystery ingredients have been crisscrossing the country.
Logo courtesy "The Yum Blog"

Thank you, dear Latha, for kicking off this fun event here in the US and for sending me your precious homemade gift. It was so exciting to get something in the mail besides the usual junk mail and bills. My patience got the better of me and I ripped the envelope open while I was still in the elevator. The color and aroma of this mystery powder enveloped me right away!

I must say that no one guessed the answer *precisely* but a whole lot of people came very close! Most of you guessed sambar powder. Latha says that "it is what is called "Huli Pudi" which is very similar to Sambar powder". If I understand correctly, huli in Kannada means "sour" but is also the word used for a curry or sambar. It sounds like this is a go-to spice powder for Kannada cooks- with potential uses in sambar, dry vegetable curries, gravies, and those delicious rice dishes such as vangi bhaat and bisi bele huli anna. Here is Latha's beautiful post with the recipe and uses of huli podi. My first use of this precious powder is a predictable one- I made a simple sambar.

Huli-Pudi Sambar

(serves 4-5)
3/4 C toor dal
1.5 C mixed vegetables cut in chunks (I used onion, eggplant, endamame and carrots)
1/2 t turmeric
1 T tamarind pulp
1 T jaggery
2 t huli podi (or to taste)
1 t oil
1 t mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
10-12 fresh curry leaves
1. Soak the toor dal for 15 minutes and rinse well.
2. In a pressure cooker, combine soaked toor dal, vegetables, salt and turmeric. Add water to cover and pressure cook the mixture.
3. Soak the tamarind in 1/2 C hot water and extract the juice.
4. Heat oil, temper it with the ingredients listed. Add the dal-veggie mixture, tamarind, jaggery, huli pudi and salt. Add water if required. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

I served the sambar with idlis for a perfectly heavenly Saturday morning brunch. The huli pudi gave the sambar a gorgeous color and irresistible flavor! Now that I have tasted this powder, I can't wait to use it in non-indicated ways- especially with potatoes, as Anita suggested. That would make one delicious filling for masala dosa!

Where does the Arusuvai Friendship chain go from here??
I am sending little mystery packages to
1. Musical, who gives us an unforgettable peek into the Punjabi home kitchen,
2. The Cooker, who always has inspiring and innovative ideas to share, and
3. Mandira, who started the Amish Friendship bread starter chain, which led to the arusuvai chain in India which in turn inspired the arusuvai chain in the US. She was the butterfly who started this butterfly effect, and it is only fitting that the trail leads back to her!

In addition, I plugged the names of all you good sports (whether you are a food blogger or not) who played along in the guessing game into a spreadsheet and used a random number generator to pull out 2 names from the hat- the "winners" are Superchef and AA!! If you would like a surprise ingredient (and a treat!) from my kitchen, please e-mail me your address.

Also, two of those who played along are "local people", so dear Bek and Seema, e-mail me if you would like a surprise too, and I shall deliver one to you :) Any other St. Louis bloggers/ readers (you don't need to have a blog), let me know if you want to play along and I'll be happy to share a surprise ingredient with you too.

*** *** ***

Want a sneak peek into the headquarters of One Hot Stove? Head over to The Perfect Pantry to get a glimpse of my own highly imperfect one! Thank you, Lydia for this chance to reveal a little bit of my kitchen :)

Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. was huli pudi....I love the taste of that pudi. It goes well in so many dishes. Wowww....the sambar looks great Nupur.

  2. Hey...same pinch..I too have so many old yogurt jars to store different pulses. When my parents were here, I asked them to fill all those yogurt dabbas with pulses and label them (with postits). I was a bit hesitant to show it to people though. I thought they may start calling me I never opened the pantry infront of anyone :). I am so happy to see I am not alone :D.

  3. Lovely post Nupur! I enjoyed every word of it! I had no idea that the Amish Starter started with Mandira! Very nice. :-)
    Sambar looks good! And u're pantry looks so cool - perfect for a serious cook!

  4. Thats a nice write up and the sambar looks so perfect in that kadhai......never heard of this powder though, thanks to Latha for introducing it to us...

  5. That sambar has the most divine color! Any hope that Latha will share the recipe for this podi with us??


  6. Oh so close, its tricky with these powders. You have explained 'huli' very well Nupur. Sambar looks so good and has nice colour.
    Latha has done a nice job, huli pudi looks great.

  7. Ah finally! :) Huli also means "Sambar" itself in Kannada..looks delicious!

  8. I thought it was idli podi (chutney powder) when I first saw it. But you made the end result look so delicious. For a sambhar powder fan like me being ignorant of huli-pudi is unacceptable;

  9. Nupur, thank you so much for sharing photos of your pantry, and especially of your masala dabba. I have one, which sometimes has spices for Indian cooking but at other times, I confess, it has chile peppers for Mexican cooking! I love that yours came from your grandmother, who had kept it for so long. I'm sure she is looking over your shoulder when you cook!

  10. So it was huli-pudi :). THat gorgeous looking sambar must had an equally divine aroma and taste! I totally want some of that sambar, now :-D. Hey, and thanks for thinking of me for the friendship surprise :). I hope i can gues that right and dish out something that does justice to that special surprise :).


  11. love the color of the sambaar nupur...and looked at ur pantry! organised :) actually..i used to have yogurt boxes too..but was fed up on not seeing the i went to the dollar store and got decent looking is not glamourous..but gets the job done!!..

  12. Nice colour Nupur. Very nice write up for the theme. Enjoyed reading it. Viji

  13. oh damn! even i guessed sambhar powder :) was it more khatta than sambhar?

  14. Sambar looks gorgeous :)...maybe I should spell that again .... 'gorge' -ous , I would so gorge on it :):)
    And yayy! I actually won something, this is so wonderful!! (*clapping hands with glee*) I shall email you more joy!

  15. across the seven seas :-) its great... and that's one pretty sambar...and your pantry is not disorganized at all... come over and see mine :-)

  16. Shilpa, yes, I loved the "clean" and bright taste of the huli pudi. What do you use it for?
    And how funny that you store pulses in old yogurt dabbas too :D no, you are definitely not alone in doing that!

    Latha, thank you so much for starting the arusuvai chain here...I think we are going to have some fun times ahead watching all the surprises!

    Bhags, yes, it is new to me too! And I'm glad I got to taste it :)

    Kamini, who don't you hop over and ask her?! :) Latha is such a sweet person...I am sure she will try to help you with the recipe!
    The color of the sambar was really wonderful...I am sure these were some pretty special chillies that went into it.

    Madhu, yes, the powders sure are tricky :) I think "huli" is one of those words with multiple meanings that can be a bit puzzling if you don't speak the language :D

    Namratha, oh, that's what I suspected, and glad that you confirmed that huli also means sambar itself :)

    Indosungod, that's exactly what I thought too...that this was idli podi :) But hey, don't beat yourself up :D it will probably take a lifetime for us to discover all the sambar varieties out there!

    Lydia, I love that concept: a cook having their own special favorites in the masala dabba! Thank you for letting me play on your blog :)

    Musical, don't will be doing something fun with your "surprise" like you always do! Packets get mailed out keep an eye on your mailbox :)

    Rajitha, I have the names of the contents scrawled in big bold letters on the box so it is not such a problem :) If I don't try to keep the pantry organized, I'll be hunting for stuff for ever...there is so much food in there.

    Viji, glad you enjoyed it. It is very nice to see you!

    Nags, I did add it was quite khatta, but not much more than usual. Your guess of sambar powder came very close :)

    AA, YAY, I am glad you won! We did "gorge" on this sambar, I can tell you that much :)

    Raaga, yes, the game is starting across the seven seas. I loved reading about your arusuvai horsegram :)

  17. What a fantastic color! It's just beautiful!

  18. I am a kannadiga from tamil nadu. In kannada we say Huli, in tamil we say sambar. It's all the same. I can smell the aroma.

  19. hi Nupur!! thanx for introducing us to huli pudi...i never knew abt it.the sambar looks yum and the colour looks gorgeous.nice to know that there are more people like me who reuse the yogurt dabbas:)

  20. Great One Nupur! That Sambhar looks awesome... what a colour! I feel as though i can smell it here...

  21. Nupur,
    I bought some sabudana last week just to make your khichdi. Made it for BF today. Had it with some peanut chutney. It was so simple to make and tasted really good. Thank you so much for the recipe!:)

  22. Huli looks yummy!!! Love the color.. It looks perfect!

  23. Nupur - your sambar looks delicious! When I first saw your picture of the mystery ingredient, all I could think of was turmeric, but then I read some about the event a realized it was going to be some sort of masala and knew I didn't have a prayer of guessing correctly :) Hope we'll hear more about your huli pudi adventures!

  24. mmm Nupur, I want a bowl of that hot piping sambar right now :).
    As you said this powder can add flavor to any dry roasted veggies like bindi etc.

  25. Nupur, your huli sambhar is mouthwatering! Your pantry is wonderfully organized... glad I don't have to show mine ;)

  26. Good to see the Arusuvai getting started like this...can wait to see what the others come up with...and nice pantry too...

  27. Hey Nupur!!!!This is excellent one .Awesome sambhar and must have tasted great ...Going to post my Arusuvai recipe soon !!!...

  28. That's some yummy use of a lovely surprise ingredient! That's one of the best looking sambhars ever!
    Love your neat and well organized pantry. I always had yogurt jars with labels in my pantry too. And since I kinda knew where what was, it wasn't any trouble finding things. I finally replaced them with transparent jars when my mom-in-law visited the second time :)

  29. Can't wait for my packet!
    I'm going to tackle this and the bread starter that Bee sent (she must've given up on me every using it) very soon.
    I used yogurt containers for a long time. My mother was the happiest person when I (finally) bought glass containers.

  30. We just learned more new information from this post! We love spices and are still beginners at learning about all the wonderful masala's used in Indian cuisine. This spice is definitely something different and new for us. Another one to add to our list! Thank You.

  31. Hey! I bought this podi at Bangalore in Gandhi Bazar during my visit in Feb. It is really good........I used it for bisi bele bath and sambar, and also for arbi roast. Your sambar looks luscious!!

  32. HI sunshine mom , i'm new to this blog ..but i had a quetsion ..where exactly is the shop where u purchased this huli pudi in gandhi bazar , can u give a landmark also on that street ? i would appreciate your reply .


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