Karepak podi or curry leaf powder: Of black hair and a centum in Maths

Eat it up! It’ll make you hair grow. It’ll make your eyes bigger! It’ll prevent your hair from growing white when you’re older! It’ll make you get a centum in Maths!
Good genes, right? for all this?? Not if you’re an Indian kid growing up in a middle class Indian household – the “this” refers to Karepak / Karuvepillai/ Kadhi patta ? Yes, the humble curry leaf which was capable of performing miracles that we couldn’t dream of, leave alone verify! There must have been some brave kid out there, right, who actually listened to all of this and then turned around and asked his greying mom – then how come yours is??….errrr….THAT much courage was a bit TOO much courage, methinks!
And then we grew up telling our kids,’ it’ll make your hair white…errr… black etc. etc…i think it was just payback time, folks, – after all, why should we be the only ones forced to eat this yucky thing – let other kids also have a taste of our medicine!!
Yep, all that till we grew up. Now i convert it into karepak podi – my grandmom’s staple cure for all ailments from the hair to the toes, including ailments of the heart and soul!
Here’s my ammamma’s recipe – the best karepak podi in the world. I still have her recipes which she wrote down for me in her spider-crawled-out-of-the-inkpot Telugu handwriting!
Karepak (curry leaves) – 4 cups – wash well and dry on a kitchen towel in the shade. Either microwave them on high in batches – 3 batches of 3 minutes each or roast them in a tawa till dry but still green. I’ve done both and trust me, the microwaving a sight easier!
Coriander seeds (dhania) – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Red chillies – 2
Pepper corns – 1 tbsp
Jeera – 1 tbsp
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Asafoetida – 1 small pinkie nail size lump 😉
Salt to taste
Turmeric – 1 large pinch
Heat a few drops of oil in a kadhai and drop in the asafoetida. When it swells, add the mustard and let it start spluttering. Add the coriander seeds and the red chillies and fry till that nothing-can-quite-replicate-it aroma arises out of the dhania. Empty the kadhai into a plate, and roast the rest of the ingredients except turmeric, individually till each smells great. Add the turrmeric to the roasted ingredients. Let the whole caboodle cool and powder together into a fine powder. Add salt and run the mixer again to blend in salt.
This is a very versatile podi (powder) – you can eat it with hot rice and – if you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know what comes next – yep, ghee! Or else use it as a garnish on roast potatoes or roasted green plantain curry or yam curry. .. and watch your hair turn black and your Math marks go through the roof and your eyes grow bigger and all the rest of it 😉

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