The round and fluffy idli is numero uno on today’s global breakfast menu.
Sambar idli, rasam idli, thair idli, podi idli, button idli and wait… Kushboo idli too will relish you no end. And if you’re left wondering what Kushboo idli is, here’s to it. The idlis are named after Tamil actress Kushboo, as famous for her charms as her smooth, chubby cheeks. Now you see the connection…chubby cheeks and fluffy idlis!
You may not get all these fancy idlis to the place you are headed, but there’s still a lot to choose from, from the Idly Shop in Thrissur. Sambar idlis and button idlis are sure serves. Look no further. We’re talking about the Sree Vallabha idly shop in Padinjarekotta (West Fort), the first such shop in Thrissur exclusively for idlis.
Take the road from West Fort to the Collectorate road and there stands the little shop to the corner in the left.
The shop was the brainchild of Perinchery-native Jayavinoj, a young man who used to frequent Chennai in connection with his trade in gold. What began as a fancy has now blossomed into big-time business. Enraptured by Chennai idlis, there germinated in him the seed of a desire to serve idlis of those sorts in his home town. He ventured into it knowing that he would have the absolute backing of his wife Sharanya.
Not one to be impulsive, Jayavinoj did his homework for about two years before plunging into the venture. The initial days saw a cook from Chennai doing the basics. That’s how the shop got going. The batter was ground at home and the idlis steamed at the shop. Today, the shop sells dosa, puttu and kadala too. Thair sadam and lemon rice are served for lunch. Idlis are served along with chutney powder and sambar. The shop gets busy from 9 am and winds up for the day at 11 pm. Sree Vallabha is one of the very few joints where you get to feast on idlis so late into the night. And for your information, they are honest stuff; no baking soda in them.
It’s the finest quality idli rice and urud dal that turn out the fluffly dumplings. There’s no compromise on quality, say Jayavinoj and Sharanya. Though the place is small, it’s one neat nook with clean tables and chairs and it has that unmistakable homely touch.
Now for a bit of idli history. Idlis apparently made their foray into India more than 1500 years ago. Ninth century Kannada poet Shivakotiacharya’s works have notes on how idlis were made. It’s believed that today’s idlis may have come from Indonesia about a thousand years ago where they are referred to as “kid-dis”. Hence, in all probability, the kid-dis were the true ancestors of the present day idli.
“Idhri”, the 17th century fluffy bite in Gujarat could also in all likelihood be the latter-day idli’s sibling.
Interestingly, DRDO’s find that idli, sambar and chutney are the best bites to be taken up into space once again buttresses the idli’s claim to be the best global food. But the flip-side of space idlis is that one cannot have them in their true shape, everything’s got to be powdered.