Ellu Podi or Spiced Sesame and Lentils Dry Chutney Powder

Ellu Podi or Spiced Sesame and Lentils Dry Chutney Powder

Though the recipe of Ellu Podi has been around since ages as part of the South Indian Cuisine, I fell in love with this spiced dry chutney powder post my marriage on our trips to our hometown – Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. One of the hotels in Tirunelveli served the Ellu Podi  along with some piping hot idlis with a generous drizzle of ghee or clarified butter and I was immediately in love with it. Though this Ellu podi or spiced dry chutney powder has similar ingredients to that of the quintessential and famous Gunpowder or Molagapodi, the aroma and the flavor of the black sesame seeds really stands out, making it now a must have list of podis or powders that I grind every month when the stock replenishes.

Now, you may ask what is the difference between black sesame seeds and white sesame seeds? Well, not that much. It’s basically similar with the only difference that black seeds have their hulls or shells intact whereas the white ones have theirs removed. You may have noticed the toasted white sesame seeds sprinkled over the lovely starters or appetizers in Chinese restaurants along with finely sliced or chopped spring onions. It’s nutty taste is appealing and adds a great flavor to the dish, not to mention sesame seeds are extremely healthy (read the health benefits below). The Black sesame seeds are the ones that are cold pressed into producing the flavourful sesame oil.

How to make Ellu podi or Sesame dry chutney

Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of consuming Black Sesame seeds. Information source credit – livestrong.com

    • They are an excellent source of magnesium and calcium that are essential minerals help regulate blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of developing tension and migraine headaches (triggered by blood vessel spasms), reduce the occurrence of airway spasms in asthmatics and regulate sleep patterns, especially in women suffering from menopause-induced sleep disturbances.
    • Consuming zinc-rich foods, such as black sesame seeds, reduces the risk of suffering from bone fractures caused by reduced bone density (common among the elderly) or osteoporosis. 
  • Black sesame seeds help lower serum cholesterol levels (which contributes to cardiovascular health) in several ways. They contain two unique substances known as sesamin and sesamolin. These substances belong to a group of fibers called lignans (flaxseeds are another rich source of lignans). Lignans are rich in dietary fiber and have a cholesterol-lowering effect.

Please don’t go by the not so great looks of this podi or chutney powder. I assure you, once you mix them along with some sesame oil or clarified butter and smear them on your hot idlis, you are guaranteed to convert the not so idli crazy people into going for seconds. Trust me, when I say this, as I am not fond of idlis either but with this ellu podi or chutney powder, I have managed to eat them without complaining how bland idlis are by themselves.

By the way, if you need a fail proof recipe to make idlis at home, here is the link – Idli Platter.  

Do read the recipe below, make a batch of this podi and I assure you that this will be your go to podi recipe especially for idlis at home.

Ellu Podi Or Spiced Sesame and Lentils Dry Chutney Powder


  1. Black Sesame Seeds (Black Til) – 1 cup
  2. Urad Dal or Split Black Lentils or Black Gram – ¾ cup
  3. Chana Dal or Split chickpeas – ¼ cup
  4. Whole Red Chilies – 5to 6 nos.
  5. Hing – a pinch
  6. Salt as per taste
  7. Sesame Oil for roasting – few drops

Method –

    1. Heat a non-stick pan or small kadhai, add urad dal with a few drops of oil and roast the dal on low heat until brown and then keep aside for cooling.
    1. In the same pan, add Chana Dal and a few drops of oil, roast the dal on low heat until they turn slightly brown and then keep it aside for cooling.
    1. Roast the whole red chilies with a drop of oil on low heat until nice and crisp and then keep it aside for cooling.
    1. Add the black sesame seeds or til to the hot pan & once they start toasting, they will splutter / pop (which takes few seconds only). Keep them aside for cooling.
    1. Once all the above ingredients have been cooled slightly, add them into a mixer grinder jar along with salt as per taste and some hing.
    1. Grind the contents into a slightly coarse powder. Please refer to the picture for the texture.
  1. Transfer the contents into an airtight glass container. Stays good for atleast a month.


Recipe Notes –

    • Ideal to sprinkle on hot idlis and drizzle them generously with sesame oil / clarified butter or ghee. You can also use this podi or spiced dry chutney powder to sprinkle on your other South Indian breakfast specials like upma or dosa.
    • You may reduce the quantity of red chilies in case you don’t prefer spicy food. I have used pondi red chilies that don’t give out much colour but are extremely spicy.
  • I’d recommend not replacing Black sesame seeds with white ones as the flavor and taste will not be the same.

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33 thoughts on “Ellu Podi or Spiced Sesame and Lentils Dry Chutney Powder

Add yours

  1. Great post! Very interesting to read about the health benefits of sesame seeds. Very nice recipe as well. I’m sure black sesame podi and idli’s go very well together!

    1. absolutely delicious. I would recommend having it with breakfast as accompaniments instead of rice. For rice, the spice content has to be slightly less & the qty of dals or lentils should be more.

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