Kara Sundal Podi / Spicy South Indian Lentil Mix for Navratri Sundals

Kara Sundal Podi / Spicy South Indian Lentil Mix for Navratri Sundals

#165FoodieMondayBlogHop is #NavratriSpecial

Are you excited for the upcoming Navratri festival just like me? Well I am beyond excited to have Golu at home for 9 days, decorate it with themes etc. This year also, we have planned few things and I hope we can do justice to the theme. Fingers crossed!

PS – If you are wondering what is Golu or Kolu, then please go through this link that explains the Golu with a theme I had planned last year at home.

Weekend was the also the right time to get my affairs in order, sit down and plan the entire 9 days menu at home, sundals included for neivedyam. We consume No Onion and Garlic meals at home for all the 9 days so the menu would be largely South Indian. Sadly, this year, I have to multitask a lot since my students have their mid term exams as soon as Navratri is over, so I cannot afford to catch a break from class either. With guests over at home, sundal making becomes quite hectic and if you are like me, running a one woman show at home, then this Kara Sundal Podi comes pretty much handy when sudden guests arrive and you have no time to grind coconut for the sundal.

Sundal podi 2.jpg

This Kara Sundal podi or Spicy lentil powder mix is your one stop solution for making the otherwise mundane sundals, spicy and delicious. Sundals are usually laced and loaded with coconut and sometimes it gets a bit monotonous to consume, especially when you end up visiting many houses during the 9 days.

Sundal podi can be made with ingredients commonly available at home, particularly in a South Indian household and just needs 10 minutes of slow roasting followed by grinding and storing in a cool dry glass container. I have made a batch of the podi on the weekend, which would last me for the 9 days or Navratri and thankfully I will be ready for any sudden guests that arrive at home. It is customary at our home to serve sundal / pack for all guests visiting home to see the Golu so I always soak and boil one pulse variety and store in the refrigerator. With the sundal podi handy, all I need to do is heat up some oil, mustard seeds followed by the boiled pulses, a tblsp of this spicy podi, curry leaves and salt. One quick mix and this is ready to be served to guests or packed to be taken home for their husbands. Sounds pretty easy and reliable right? Note – The podi mix is Vegan, Gluten Free too.

Sundal Podi 4.jpg

I try and mix kara sundal and coconut sundal in the tamboolam bag so that the ladies are happy with the choice of food offered. Navratri is by and large a ladies festival so it is most important to keep all the ladies visiting each others homes, happy and full. Along with tamboolam, I pack some Lemon Rice or Ellu Sadam that stays fresh for longer periods and can be consumed by other family members at home too, particularly the husbands, who kind of feel ignored during the 9 days .. ha ha.

This particular festival and the associated rituals were followed by my MIL, whom I thank every single year up in heaven. She hails from Thanjavur and her maternal side had the custom of Golu. When she married my FIL (FIL belongs to Kerala), she was disappointed to know that they don’t follow many festivals and decided that she will keep Golu every year. Prior to my marriage, our family never kept Golu at home either. We just called ladies home for manjal Kumkum that’s all. I was super excited to learn from husband that we keep Golu every year and since then, my Golu collection has been growing each year. You can call me crazy but this festival has my heart. The whole vibe at home during the 9 days is something else.

There are still couple of days left for Navratri and this post is just in time for you to prep and store a batch of this delicious podi. Also check out Moong Sundal or Green Gram Sundal that I had made last year for Navratri which is a coconut based Sundal.

The theme for the #165FoodieMondayBlogHop is #NavratriSpecial and my contribution for the blog hop is the Kara Sundal Podi / Spicy South Indian Lentil Mix for Navratri Sundals.

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Recipe for Kara Sundal Podi / Spicy South Indian Lentil Mix for Navratri Sundals

Makes a small batch of say 100 gms of podi which I use only during Navratri.


  1. 6 tblsp of Chana Dal
  2. 2 tblsp of dhania or coriander seeds
  3. 1 tblsp of white sesame seeds or ellu
  4. 14 nos. whole red chillies
  5. ¼ tsp of asafetida or hing
  6. ¼ tsp of sesame oil (for roasting)
  7. ½ tsp of salt


  1. Heat a kadhai, add oil and dry roast the chana dal until slightly brown.
  2. Now add the coriander seeds and keep sautéing the ingredients on a medium flame to avoid over roasting or burning.
  3. Add the red chillies, roast for a while and then finally add the sesame seeds.
  4. Once the sesame pops, switch off the flame and empty the ingredients on to a plate and allow it to cool.
  5. Once cool, grind them in a mixer grinder along with salt and hing until a slightly coarse powder is formed.
  6. Cool slightly and store it in a cool and dry glass container.
  7. Remains good in a refrigerator for over a month and over 15 days at room temperature.

How to use this Podi?

  1. Add this podi or spice mix with / without coconut to any sundals (which are basically boiled and stir fried pulses) during Navratri.
  2. A heaped tblsp is enough to spice and flavor atleast 2 cups of cooked pulses.

Recipe Notes

  • I have added a lot of red chillies as I prefer spicy and trust me, so will your guests once you serve them this.
  • It is a good change from the regular grated coconut toppings.
  • You can reduce the spice level by adding red chillies according to your taste.
  • You can add podi as well as couple of tblsp of grated coconut to make the sundal even more flavourful.
  • You can skip ellu or sesame seeds but since they are my favourite, I add them to most podis.

Vidya Narayan

32 thoughts on “Kara Sundal Podi / Spicy South Indian Lentil Mix for Navratri Sundals

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    1. Thanks so much, I make both versions of sundal and distribute in tamboolam every year. This year finally the recipe made it to the blog.

  1. Read about your previous Golu and its so interesting to learn about different cultures and traditions. I remember a Tamilian neighbor of mine in Bangalore, putting up these miniature dolls and figurines for the Navratri festival. Looking forward to your this year’s theme. Podi mixture sounds delicious. would love to try it out for a sundal dish.

  2. I have made one flavourful podi masala. Now one more to try. Thanks for the recipe and lovely informative write up. Perfect share for super busy ladies in this festive season. Awesome share.

    1. Thanks, that was the idea Sujataji, trying to make lives easier by these podi recipes. Navratri is a busy festival for ladies.

    1. Thank you Seema. Let me take a look at your version too. Each home has a different version and tastes unique too.

      1. Thank you Vidya. Garba is easy just try to get in circle in starting when it’s slow. You will enjoy and get it easily.👍

  3. Love the shot sweetheart !!! Podi sounds delicious and flavourful .. Awesome share for theme definitely 🙂

    1. The rice based podis are different but may have the same ingredients as well. This is specifically for Sundals only. Thanks so much.

  4. I loved your write up about Golu and can totally relate to what you said about the festive ambience in the air for all 9 days. It is one of the best festivals that I have cherished from my childhood. I would look forward to keeping the golu and go about with decorations and show off the creativity to all visitors, but sadly my husband’s side the custom of golu is not there, but I hope I can start it sometime sooner 🙂
    Have been following your recipes for quite sometime now, and needless to say they are amazing !

    1. I hope and pray you start the Golu custom soon and enjoy the festivities. Thank you so much for all the kind words dear Priya. Cheers!

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