What better than starting World Idli Day with a plateful of idlis – the soft and fluffy round steamed savoury cake – served usually with a bowl of piping hot sambar and tangy coconut chutney.
WHY MARCH 30 IS CELEBRATED AS WORLD IDLI DAY
According to reports, Chennai man Iniyavan, regarded as ‘Idli King’ and the president of Tamil Nadu Catering Employees Union, Rajamani Iyer, apparently came up with the concept of a special day for idlis. March 30 has officially been chosen as World Idli Day.
ORIGIN OF IDLIS
The origin of idlis, however, is a topic of debate.
“Both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka claim to have invented this recipe. There are references to the making and existence of idli from the 8th century,” Sujan Mukherjee, the executive chef at Chennai’s Taj Coromandel Hotel, had told PTI in an interview.
“But many of us will be surprised to know there are claims that idli did not originate in South India at all. Some food historians believe idli was derived from some steamed rice preparations from Indonesia. It is believed that this recipe was invented by the cooks of the Hindu kings who ruled some parts of Indonesia,” he told PTI.
The second claim contradicts this, as some food historians claim that idli was introduced to South India by Arab traders, who had been in constant contact with the southern coast.
“There are works that mention about a flat boiled rice preparation that had a bland coconut paste and this preparation was developed upon by the locals to the present- day idli and coconut chutney,” Mukherjee told PTI.
TYPES OF IDLIS
The idli comes in a lot of variations and adaptations throughout the world. Some of the classical varieties are – Kanchipuram idli (tempered with black pepper and coconut) and Ramasserry idli (a flat and soft idly from Palakkad in Kerala). “There are modern-day adaptations like mallipoo idli and podi idli. Mallipoo in Tamil refers to jasmine, the idli gets its name as it is as soft as a jasmine. The podi idlis are mini idlis tossed with gun powder (ground chilly),” Mukherjee said. There are also household adaptations like sambar idli (idli immersed in sambar) and idli upma (tempered idli cubes with chopped onions and chilies). All the idlis are prepared by steaming method but in a few snack preparations they are fried after steaming.