Food & Health

Idli-Dosa stories


In my life, after Mother’s milk, the most important food items have been idli and dosa. No prizes for guessing that I am an Indian who comes from one of the southern states :). I am a Tamilian born in Tirunelveli whose first language is Hindi, who loves Delhi, and speaks Tamil better than most of the newsreaders and anchors on Tamil Channels.

I have exacting standards for idlis – I will not eat idlis made from rice rava, like they made in Andhra/Telengana, except at the Idli Factory in Hyderabad Airport. The Idli Factory at the Hyderabad Airport has too many memories attached to it so I don’t focus on the idlis as much as the memories. My Pgpmax batchmates know those memories and they feature prominently in them.

Idlis made by my maternal grandmother, Pichamma Paati are my earliest memories of idlis and my benchmark. Let me tell you that NO one makes them the way she would. Those idlis would melt in your mouth. I do give grief to my mother over her idlis while my friends and certain idli-lovers like Kashiana swoon over the idlis made by her. I forgive them because they don’t know any better ! They haven’t eaten the idlis made by Pichamma Paati. Left to my mother, she would make them everyday for breakfast, like today.

Steaming hot idlis in their mould

Idlis with just chutney

I like eating them with molagai podi, Nallennai (Til oil) and coconut chutney. Rules about Til Oil – It HAS to be Idhayam Nallennai. You can get any other brand and Amma will reject them all with very valid reasons. And she maybe right, as she is the only person on Earth who can stay alive while immersed in oil :). Jokes apart, Amma can SURVIVE on just Nallennai.

Idli, molagai podi and chutney – my style.

Before moving onto Dosa’s, Murugan Idli shop (restaurant chain in Chennai/TN) comes a close third in terms of quality of idlis after Paati and Amma. No other restaurant comes close. I never eat idlis at even my second mother’s place – Hotel Saravana Bhavan.

Now onto Dosa’s. I like them crispy and Krishnan likes them soft. Dhanush, my nephew can eat ANYTHING termed dosa. When he was younger, Dhanush genuinely relished something made like Dosa at a restaurant in McLeodganj ! His mother and I are sure they made it out of soya or some unknown flour, but Dhanush insisted that it was good. He has stopped doing it now but till 5 or 6 years back, he would go to his maternal grandmother’s house and look at the dosa batter and say, it wasn’t good as though he was the expert :):). He has a PhD in dosas, but I have “Mother” who is a Dosa Master.

Right through school, I suspect many girls and boys became my friends because of the dosas Amma made for my tiffin box. I won’t name them, but the entire KVHV gang and a few of the KVAFA gang, remain friends with me but are actually friends with my mother. This is a dosa-bond built over 3 decades :):). My mother will make great dosas for everyone except for my dad and me. Before Amma’s dosa-mafia (read my school friends) try and shout me down, I have evidence. See the two pics below taken on 20th July 2018 (last year).

This is the nice dosa which got made after I made a face…

This is what Amma made for me before I made a face !

More evidence from today

I can keep providing evidence. She WILL find a way to burn a small part of my dosa :):):).

I like to eat the dosa with molagai podi+sambar or just molagai podi. I also like onion chutney (without tomatoes) and coconut chutney with it, but its comfort food with molagai podi only. I used to enjoy the Ghee Roast in Saravana Bhavan but its an overload of Ghee so I just eat the regular dosa mostly. At home, its only made with Idhayam nallenai. I can eat it anytime, I do like dosas more than idlis, but it should be made after the batter is fermented. Sometimes Amma will try and make dosas with batter thats not fermented and then I will make a face and say things. Ok ok I do nitpick when it comes to Dosas and Idlis, but well, if they are the next most important food after mother’s milk then I have the right to nitpick !

Just to set the record straight and especially for my Delhi friends and colleagues – I do make idlis and dosas as well as Amma does and you all enjoyed them till 2009 when Amma wasn’t here. I agree she makes them better than me but I don’t appreciate the assumption most of you have made that I don’t know making them !! Traitors ! Especially you Kabir, step brother forever.

If any of you feel like having idli or dosa, feel free to call Amma and drop in.

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