Sunday, April 10, 2022

Idly and Icecream

When I say Indian food, what most of the globe picturises is what we typically get in Indian Tandoori restaurants. Naan, kulcha, Paneer tikka and so on. But i feel that not many know, especially non-Indians , that these are more related to Tandoori style of cooking which is a method of cooking food in an oven like "Tandoor".

Every state in India has a unique cuisine and the menu is influenced by the key agricultural produce and the weather too.  Typically the southern coastal states are rice eaters and the ones falling above the Tropic Of Cancer are more wheat eaters.

A very common food item in South India is the humble Idly, a steamed dish made using a batter thats 80% rice and 20% lentils(urad dal).

Idly made in the right way is incredibly soft and is very healthy, gentle on the stomach and easy to prepare .  Its typically served with coconut chutney and steaming lentil curry called sambar. The technique and equipment used in the making  of the batter determines the perfection of the outcome. Most Tamil speaking folks to whom cooking at home is serious business will have this kitchen equipment called wet grinder. Two rolling stones run by an inbuilt motor are used to fine grind soaked lentils and rice to make the batter.

This equipment has replaced the manually operated grinding stone that was mostly used in homes earlier.  I have seen in some of the old movies that if one ate at a restaurant and could not settle the bill, one had to make up for it by grinding the idly batter for the subsequent day. 

In fact some people in recent days even set up an idly batter making business that was a blessing to people who had no time for the preparation. The thing is , the same batter can be used to make the crepe-like dosa , thicker oothappam etc.  These days, are commercially available dosa batter in tetra packs too.

Food from other lands:

Ice Cream of course ! It is available every where on the planet today and I have no clue about its origins. I don't recall my first icecream. Like most others, it was when I was a very young child, beyond the reach of my memory. I do have memories of us cousins enjoying icecream during the summer holidays, one of the innumerable treats from our grandfather. Earlier the icecream stores sold them in a packed cup or a popsicle format. Chocobar was our favorite though the outer chocolate layer would slide off within a minute once the icecream started to loosen. Later softy icecream stores became popular with a wide array of toppings. 

Whats your favourite flavour ? 

Food for thought:

The quote today is from a Tamil movie called Mozhi (language) which is about a girl who is deaf and mute but still leads a very independant life. If you get a chance do watch it. 

"Iyarkkayin mozhigal purindhuvidil,

Manitharin mozhigal thevai illai

Idhayathin mozhigal purindhuvidil

Manitharukku mozhiye thevai illai"

Iyarkkai - Nature

Puruindhuvidil - if its understood

Idhayam - heart

Idhayathin - of the heart 

Manithar - man (humans) 

I dont think i can do justice to the beauty of the lines in my translation but will try !

If the language of nature is understood,

We dont need the languages of humans!

If the language of the heart is understood

Humans do not need a language at all!


  1. The Idly sounds delicious.
    I'm guilty of being amongst those that think of the Tandoor style of food when I think of Indian food, but having said that, Indian food is my all time favourite!

  2. Beautiful. I could relate to every line that you have written. Idly- Grinding is a challenge- I wrote a blog entry when i woke up my old grinder from the slumber.
    Chocobar my fav too -now my 4 year old competes with me to have her share of it
    Finally- awesome try on translation - the essence is conveyed.

  3. Nice translation of the quote !

    Idli is a fav at all South homes i feel. At my home they can eat just that everyday!...and icecream - whom doesn't it Make happy :)

    Dropping by from a to z

  4. The quote you've shared today is beautiful Jayashree. Thank you.

  5. I have no heard of Idly, but it sounds like it might be lovely. Now ice cream on the other hand I have a weakness for. The best ice cream place I have ever been to was in The Netherlands in Haarlem - so many flavours, so delicious. My fav was speculoos (like the Lotus biscuits).
    Tasha's Thinkings: YouTube - What They Don't Tell You (and free fiction)

  6. It makes complete sense that a big country like India has many regional specialties. Even my tiny country Switzerland does ;-)
    You're right, as a European, "Indian Food" is pretty much what you described. I have never heard of Idly. Ice cream, however, sounds familiar ;-)))

  7. It's lovely to learn about new-to-me foods, and idly sounds wonderful. I smiled at the idea of paying for a meal debt by having to put in time grinding. I work a lot with herbs and plant material that need to be ground, and just that little bit I do with a mortar and pestle can be tiring. I'm so glad you translated the quote - it's wonderful and I so agree.

  8. Love south Indian food. Especially idlis.

  9. I am such an idli dosa person. It's perfect too when you have a toddler and not much time to prepare difficult dishes.
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    Hope you stop by my blog

  10. I think I might want to try idly some time. I am definitely an ice cream fan when the weather is hot. But in winter months it makes me too cold when I eat it.


  11. I don't think I've ever had idly, although I do like stuff made with lentil flour. Today's quotation is beautiful.
    I is for Invisibility

  12. I ate idlis so much at home while growing up, I finally got super bored. I still have it once in a while but not a great fan! Icecream ooh, and nowadays all the more exotic what with rolled ice creams and toppings and all! I am an all time chocolate (and it's variations) fan! Love the quote, beautiful! Will watch the movie too!

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  13. Somehow I can never get bored of eating south Indian food . It always remains my top favorite. Thanks for reconfirming the ratio of lentils and rice.
    Ice cream I try to avoid as I hate a sore throat

  14. Somehow I can never get bored of eating south Indian food . It always remains my top favorite. Thanks for reconfirming the ratio of lentils and rice.
    Ice cream I try to avoid as I hate a sore throat