Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have a lot to debate but one of the most important topics is the origin of the Idli. While there is evidence back from 10th century AD that says idli originated in Karnataka, there is mention of idli in Vaddaradhane, a Kannada work published in 920 AD.
However, food writer KT Achaya has a different spin in his book Indian Food, which says that idli is the Indianised version of Kedli – an Indonesian dish. Depending on which part of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka or Kerala you’re in, here’s a lowdown on different types of idli you can enjoy.
1. Udupi-Style Idli
Made using 3:1 ratio of rice and urad dal mix, Udupi-style idli needs quite a time to get fermented. When it comes to Udupi style cooking, every dish is prepared using a specific style. These idlis are not very fluffy but taste great with Udupi sambar.
2. Mallige Idli
It got its name and texture from the Jasmine flower, these idlis are fluffy and spongy. These are popular in Tamil Nadu and is also known as Kushboo idly.
3. Kancheepuram Idli
One of the most famous types, the origin of the Kancheepuram idli lies in the Vardarajaswamy temple. It is still the temple food and is prepared using 2:1 (rice:urad dal mix) and used to be traditionally cooked in large vessels, instead of idli moulds. Once cooked, these are then sliced. The batter is kept overnight and later some ghee, cashew, Bengal gram, cumin, curry leaves, ginger powder and peppercorns is added to it. The batter is mixed properly and then steamed.
4. Moode Idli
Famous with several names like Kadubbu, Moode, Mude and Gunda, these are cylindrically shaped idlis common in and around Udupi. The batter of these idlis is same but is cooked in a different mould. The moulds are made using jackfruit leaves which has batter in it and is bound using toothpicks. These idlis have a subtle flavour of leaves and taste great.
5. Ramasseri Idli
A small village in Palakkad district of Kerala is Ramasseri is famous for these special idlis. It is said that these idlis are almost 100 years old and is known for its size, shape, texture and traditional cooking method. These are made in thin nets placed inside the earthen pots which are locked using coriander logs. Also known as a small dosa, the Ramasseri idlis are made with rice, black gram, fenugreek and salt in the batter. These taste even better when served on a banana leaf with chutney.
6. Thatte Idli
The unique version of the idli is quite popular in Bidadi — a town situated on the Bengaluru – Mysuru expressway. These idlis are cooked in regular steamers and taste great with tarkari saagu. These are very soft and thin but bigger in size compared to traditional idli.