Growing up in a Tamil Brahmin home, eating the likes of idly and dosai's a few times a week was standard operating procedure for us. As children we would have ghee with our idlies, and ghee mixed with sugar, or yogurt mixed with sugar for our dosai. As our palates matured the condiment of choice fast became idly milagai podi, or dosai milagai podi (milagai means chili in Thamizh). This hot dipping 'sauce' is created by roasting and grinding dried red hot chillies with a few lentils, salt, and the ever present asafetida (referred to as devils dung by some). It is then served with gingelly or sesame oil, and then mixed up on your plate right as you begin your meal.
The standard meal "to go" for us is rolled up dosai's or idly's slathered with milagai podi. No matter what is available at home, even if no one has gone to the market, there will invariably be dosai with with milagaipodi 'thottuka', on the side.
Red hot chili powder served with oil, my entry for Nandita's Jihva for Ingredients - Chillies. Nandita hosts a wonderful blog called The Saffron Trail.
4 tbsp chana dal, 3 tbsp urad dal, 3 tbsp sesame seeds, 3/4 tsp of asafetida, 10-15 chillies, 1 tsp salt
1. Roast the chana dal, urad dal, chillies, and sesame seeds on medium low heat until they release a little of their oils and leave off a fragrant smell.
2. Grind all the ingredients together along with salt, and the asafetida.
Serve this along with sesame oil. The amount of chillies be adjusted according to ones taste. This is another family recipe, and was taken from my brother-in-law Gopi's website.