Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An Idli Brain (Part 2) : Idli Accessories

For me the best Idli flavor is that of unaided Idli. Pure virgin Idli shorn of the gimmicks of different chutneys or powders that add something and at the same time take away its unique taste.

If you think you have never experienced this taste, just pick up a straight-off-the-oven Idli. Mind that it should not be soggy. It should be fluffy and soft and steaming hot.

Talking of the accessories, first thing that comes to mind is Sambhar. Idli-Sambhar combo is often sold as, well a combo. This means serving a couple of Idlis in a bowl of Sambhar.

I was thinking of making this point in a separate post, but let's take this issue here itself. Sambhar brings out the difference in Tamil Idlis and Telugu Idlis. (I am not much acquainted with Kannada or Malayali Idlis!). All through this and previous posts you have been reading the word 'Fluffy'. Well, this applies to Telugu Idlis only. They are fluffy and can ABSORB the Sambhar. Tamil Idlis are quite stiff in this regard. The liquid doesn't peneterate inside. My colleague Hari, who has worked in Chennai for few years told me the reason. Tamils have this habit of squeezing the Idli in Sambhar before eating, unlike Telugus who dip Idli in Sambhar while eating. Also, I found Tamil Idlis a little wet, and not as soft as Telugu Idlis. (For the record, I ate 'Tamil Idli' in Murugan Idli Shop at Adyar in Chennai which according to Shishir and Sunil is the last word in the world of Idlis!)

Now I have nothing against Tamil food and actually their Sambhar is better than Telugu Sambhar which is quite often sweet. Tamil Sambhar is what I think an ideal Sambhar should be like. Having lots of vegetables and tasting like Sambhar, not like liquified Sambhar powder! The best Telugu Sambhar that I remember eating was in Vishakhapatnam and best Tamil Sambhar was in Mamallapuram.

For me the best Idli accessory is not Sambhar, it is the peanut chutney. Yes the peanut Chutney and not the coconut. I actually don't much like coconut chutney,which to me tastes a little, ummm weak, and hardly able to give any peculiar taste to the main dish. Peanut chuney on the other hand is thicker and stronger. You may disagree, each to a taste of his/her own!

Reddy tells me that in his family they make six varieties of Chutney. I have had three or four at 'Chutneys', a popular Hyderabadi restaurant known for its South Indian vegetarian fare. I liked Ginger Chutney.

I have never tried Karampodi (or Podum) which is a powder often used with or without ghee. Some people like ghee Idli. I haven't tried this as well due to obvious health reasons.

I want to talk about Fried Idli and Button Idli as well, but they are Idli variants and not exactly accessories. I would love to hear more from you about Idlis or anything else about food!


Bhanu said...

Loved it, and now you leave me hungry :) Nice post, miss idlis :(

Amal said...

Have you tried Bisi bele bhaath Sir? A variant of a rice based dish from Karnataka.

Anonymous said...

"I would love to hear more from you about Idlis or anything else about food!"

I would like to invite you to my home on one good day to treat you with Home made Idli and Sambar.
Will let you know the date soon ;)

Kanupriya said...

Thanks for dropping by my blog! yea going through a really tough phase & hence was off everything, trying to get back to things slowly...though its one of the most painful things which cud have happened to us. Losing a sibling is like half of your own existence...all my effort of doing regular life things like job, blogging, reading etc is a forceful effort to divert my mind...but as i said this is one of the worst phases of my life.

Abhishek said...

Thanks. Happy eating!

Yes I have. My mother also used to make it and called it 'Bisi Bele Huli Anna'.

Thanks for the offer! I am waiting..

Neha said...

mujhe abhi ke abhi idli khaani hai ab :((...yes...ultimate post...even i would love to hear more on idli or any food and also would like to accompany you to aparna's house for idlis ;)