Family Meal: Nina’s Molaga Pudi
At our restaurants we are guided by listening and learning from the stories of our team — in particular, the ways our families, upbringings, and lineage have shaped the way we consider, source, prepare, and share food.
We’re excited to introduce a new series to our our journal, Family Meal, where different members of our team will share a recipe from their upbringing that has — in some way — informed the way they cook today.
First, Nina Subhas, the manager from GTA and to-be manager of our upcoming new Gjusta Windward Market in Venice (opening late summer 2021!), shares her family recipe for Molaga Pudi (or, Magic Powder), an add-to-anything spice topping blend that elevates a humble dish into a special experience and, as she puts it, ‘tastes like home.’
She explains, “When my dad immigrated to the US from Hyderabad he could not cook, and Pittsburgh was not an easy place for a vegetarian, so he used to call his sister in Pasadena and she would help him figure out what he could cook for himself. He ended up with a small but mighty arsenal of dishes that he could cook for himself that tasted like home.”
“When I was growing up we had a well stocked spice cabinet, with whole spices and lentils but also a few spice mixes that my dad would make, or his sister would send to him. This one we usually would eat with idlis or rice, mixed with a little neutral oil, but my dad always called it “magic powder” — it’s spicy, salty, crunchy…all of the things!”
“Later, when I was living on my own and in times where I was working too much to bother with groceries, or scraping money together, I always had rice and magic powder my pantry, and it always filled my stomach and tasted like home. Now I like it best sprinkled on mango, or to dunk anything starchy like idlis, or flatbreads.”
Nina’s Mologa Pudi (Magic Powder)
1 cup red chiles
1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 cup chana dhal
1 cup urad dhal
Asafoetida to taste
Salt to taste
To prepare, roast the lentils, chiles, and seeds separately until golden.
Grind together to medium/coarse consistency, season to taste with asafoetida (just a tiny bit to start!) and salt.
To serve, pile a tablespoon of the spice blend in a shallow dish and mix with a glug of olive oil as a dip for anything starchy (bread, rice, or flatbread).
Alternatively, sprinkle on top of mango, or atop a grain and veggie bowl, or atop scrambled eggs. Experiment and make it your own — the beauty is in the versatility.
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