Monday, 4 July 2016




          I vividly remember my mother making irresistibly alluring Dudni Pana Podis when I was a small kid at our family home at Calicut. The scent of the frying podis was so inviting, my elder brothers and I would bide the time to sneak into the kitchen and grab handfuls of fresh podis from right under our mother’s nose.

Her entreaties to wait for the lunch hour in vain, we children would be strengthened in numbers by our cousins living next door as well as our servants’ children. Finally, our exasperated mother would take up a stick or the rolling pin to try to drive us out, only to be lovingly pushed aside by my father, who has been summoned by the aroma, to grab his share as well.

Such is the pull of this exceptional dish, I eagerly yearn to share this recipe with you. Do cook, eat and enjoy!

Ingredients (to make 70 to 80 podis):

     1)    Mature pumpkin leaves – 500 gm.
     2)    Raw rice – 500 gm.
     3)    Tor dal (split pigeon pea lentils) – 500 gm.
     4)    Hot red chili powder – 5 teaspoons
     5)    Asafoetida powder – teaspoon
     6)    Powdered salt – 2 teaspoons
     7)    Coconut oil or other cooking oil – to deep fry

To make:

          Soak the rice and the dal in water. Take each leaf and cut off the stem, together with an inch of the leaf all-round the stem as shown in the picture (this is necessary in order to remove the thick portion of the veins so as to make it easier to pile up and roll the leaves).
          Soak the leaves in a solution of around 20 ml. of vinegar in a wide basin of water for about 20 minutes. The presence of vinegar in the water helps to dislodge any dirt or mud from the surface of the leaves. Rinse each leaf carefully without tearing and set aside to drain.

Now wash and drain the rice and the lentils. Put both of them together in your food processor (if the processor is small, you can do it in 2 or 3 batches) and grind to thick fine paste. Take care not to add any water while grinding. If, however, the processor does not cooperate, sprinkle just a few drops of water to make it work. It is imperative to have the paste as dry and as smooth as possible so that the podi rolls become quite tight while rolling and do not soak up excess oil while frying.

Transfer the paste to a mixing bowl. Tip in the chili powder, the asafoetida powder and the salt. Mix thoroughly. Use a wide plate or a clean, flat surface to prepare the rolls. Put a leaf upside down and spread a little paste thinly over it with your fingers. Paste the second leaf likewise, partly overlapping the first leaf and partly to one side, so that 5 or 6 leaves may complete a circle. Spread the paste thinly and evenly over the second leaf and start with the third. Once the circle is complete (6 leaves are enough to make nice, small podis. If you like large podis, use 9 or 10 leaves), simply fold in the curves on the right and on the left in straight lines so that you can have even edges on the roll.

          Now start rolling over the nearer edge tightly using the fingers of both hands so as to make a nice tight leaf roll (the rolling technique is given in my patrodo recipes too). Prepare the rest of the rolls similarly.

          Set a wide deep pan of cooking oil on high heat. It is best to have enough oil to fully submerge all the podis in each batch. Usually, 2 litres are enough to deep-fry 2 to 3 rolls, i.e., 25 to 30 podis at a go. As soon as the oil is hot (do not let it smoke, ever), use a razor-sharp, thin, long knife to slice the rolls to roughly 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick podis. Slip them in gently one by one till the pan is full.

          Deep fry on high heat. After 5 to 6 minutes, start turning over the podis gently so as to bring the ones at the bottom to the top and vice versa. Turn occasionally till the podis feel crispy. Lower the heat, lift out and drain off the excess oil. Finish the rest of the batches likewise. Start eating as soon as the first batch is ready. You will want to go on eating these supra-delicious Dudni Podis as soon as you wake up, then for breakfast, lunch, tea, dinner, supper and even when you awaken in the middle of the night. God forbid, you won’t even feel like sharing them with anybody!

So enjoy and enjoy and enjoy!!!


     1)    If you take out the podis while they are crispy, they will keep nicely for 3 days and will taste better and munchier the second and third day.

     2)    Older people may prefer to take out the podis while they are still soft, but the podis may require refrigeration and reheating before using the second or third day.

     3)    The older generation Konkani people dip the sliced podis in roasted rice powder before frying to make them still crispier. I do not recommend this practice as it tends to spoil the cooking oil, since the excess rice powder sinks to the bottom and burns while frying the subsequent batches.

     4)    I have given you this recipe with the correct amount of chili powder and salt for moderate taste so that you can eat as many as you wish. If, however, you love to eat hot and spicy fried fish, you may need to use ore chili powder and salt to suit your palate.

     5)    It is better to have someone to help you to slice and fry the podis while you roll them, since the process is quite time consuming (but absolutely worthwhile) and the rolls cannot be kept for long since the salt in the paste tends to seep out the water from the leaves thereby making it difficult to slice and to fry the podis. I make these wonderful podis only when both my husband and I are free. He does the slicing and the frying while I make the rolls and the children dance in expectation. I am quite sure your children too will find the Dudni Pana Podis to be their most loved leaf dish ever.

     6)    If pumpkin leaves are not available, you can successfully use mature ash gourd leaves, although the flavour may be a little bit compromised.

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