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On World Idli day, know a little more about the white wonder

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For centuries, the humble idli has been more than mere food. Deemed as one of the healthiest, nutritious simple food items, idli's journey has been a long yet exciting one. There are many versions of this white wonder that has been reinvented over the centuries.

It is a staple food for south Indians, a must in many festivals like Deepavali. Rushing to work? Run into a hotel and idli is a quick fix. Unwell? Treat yourself to a plate of hot idli, the best food for a unwell body. Have the time to relax? Relish the humble idli with its many accompaniments. Here we give you some interesting facts about the real food for the soul.

The history and the mystery

The history and the mystery

Very different from the modern idli, the "iddalige" finds mention in the 920 CE literary work Vaddaradhane, in the Kannada language. Very similar to the modern day idli, iddalige was prepared using only black gram. Western Chalukya king and scholar Someshwara III in his work, 'Manasollasa' mentions a food item named 'iddarika'. But the very first mention of a idli made using rice was seen only after 1250 CE. A Gujarati literary work 'Varanaka Samuchaya' dated 1520 CE mentions idli as idari. The earliest extant Tamil work to mention idli is 'Maccapuranam', dated back to the 17th century.

The world war connection to Rava idli

The world war connection to Rava idli

While most of us are familiar with rice idli, Rava idli, a variant is famous in Karnataka. What makes it interesting further is the fact that Rava idli was the result of World War II. Mavalli Tiffin Rooms of Bengaluru claims to have invented it when rice was in short supply during the world war II. They experimented making idli using semolina and created Rava Idli.

Have you tried these idlis?

Have you tried these idlis?

It may be humble but idli is definitely the king of variety. While the ingredients more or less remain the same, many variants of the good old idli have come to be. Tatte idli is one such variant. Famous in Bidadi and Ramanagara areas of Karnataka, this idli comes in the size and shape of a plate. The word 'tatte' means plate in Kannada. There are specialised hotels that serve this specific variant of idli in Karnataka.

Sanna, Muday, a few other variants

Sanna, Muday, a few other variants

Predominantly South Indian, idli has evolved over the years suiting locality specific palettes. Many parts of Karnataka have their own variants with local ingredients for the idli. Sanna is one such variant. Also called Hittli in Konkani, Sanna is a famous coastal Karnataka food item. Sambar aside, sanna is enjoyed with traditional coastal fish curries. Muday idli is a Mangalorean variant of the white wonder. Wrapped and cooked in banana leaves, Muday is likely to be on the list of Udupi hotels.

The change in grain

The change in grain

While rice-urad dal idlis are prominently known worldwide, the already healthy idli has even healthier options with ragi, millet, parboiled rice as substitute ingredients. Many households prepare idli with ragi, various millets or parboiled rice replacing regular white rice for idlis.

Contemporary spins to idli

Contemporary spins to idli

That leftover idli can be turned into upma is a hack known in every south Indian household, but as diverse as idli is, the humble south Indian food has taken many modern forms. From chilli idli, idli Manchurian, idli fry, mini idli etc the white wonder has kept its experimental mode on.

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