CHENNAI : Once Anuradha D gets into the zone, almost nothing can tear her away from the kitchen. From the weight of the ingredients in her hand to the smell of pulses and spices roasting, the 45-year-old enters a trance-like state where nothing matters more than pots and pans before her.But her love for cooking did not start until she began cooking for her family after her marriage. At the age of 15, Anuradha began dabbling in the kitchen, trying out her favourite recipes.
“I used to cook simple dishes that everyone in my family would like, like sambhar and rasam. Then, I moved on to more complex dishes. I began cooking non-vegetarian dishes too. The person who guided me the most was my mother-in-law. She used to teach me how to cook and I used to observe her in the kitchen to learn more,” she says.
Anuradha runs her own company called AmmAmma Podi from her house in Padi, where she sells seven varieties of podis. These handmade powders are all recipes that she has perfected and mastered over the years. “Initially, when I began making the powders, I used to taste them to see if the recipe was correct. If something was not right, I used to prepare a fresh batch until I got it perfect,” says Anuradha. With the help of her daughter and son-in-law, she sells garlic podi, parruppu podi, mudakatan podi, thoothavalli podi, ellu podi, murungai podi, and karvapillai podi.
Podi, according to Anuradha, is integral in south Indian cuisine, and thus the kind of powder used in meals has a drastic impact on the quality and flavour of the final dish. “You need podi to make everything, starting from sambhar. The taste of the podis you get in stores is not impactful. When I started making them on my own, I decided that the flavour and quality of the podi were the most important aspects,” explains Anuradha.
Every part of the podi-making process — right from measuring the ingredients to roasting and grinding them — enthrals and captivates Anuradha. Making one batch of one type of podi can take anywhere from four to eight hours. “Cooking for me is a stressbuster. It is something I have done for many years, so it is easy to slip into a routine. Sometimes, I really get into the zone and concentrate only on preparing the food. Then, it doesn’t matter if I spend seven-eight hours in cooking. My daughter tells me it’s impossible to distract me when I’m in one of those moods,” says Anuradha.For more details, visit AmmAmma Podi at www.ammammapodi.com
Bengal gram: 100 g, Urad dal:
100 g, Toor dal: 100 g, Green gram: 100 g, Dried ginger: 50 g, Dried red chillies: 100 g, Cumin: 35 g, Fenugreek: 15 g, Asafoetida: 10 g, Sesame seeds: 15 g, Mudakathan leaves: 250 g, Salt to taste
Wash the leaves and leave them to dry overnight, away from direct sunlight.
Separately roast all the ingredients in a wok with oil until the smell of roasted ingredients fills the air. This should take you
30 minutes in total.
Grind all the ingredients.
Bengal gram: 100 g, Urad dal:
200 g, Toor dal: 100 g, Garlic cloves: 150 g, Dry red chillies: 100 g, Asafoetida: 10 g, A lemon-sized ball of tamarind, Salt to taste
Separately roast all the ingredients in a wok with oil until the smell of roasted ingredients fill the air. This should take you 30 minutes.
Grind all the ingredients, starting with the garlic and chillies, until the powder achieves a rough texture. Do not over-grind the ingredients.