How do you like your idlis? With chutney and sambhar, or deep-fried and topped with a spicy masala mix?
Meet M Eniyavan, who has been adding a dash of innovation and a sprinkle of crazy to the delectable food item. A Class 8 dropout and a former auto-rickshaw driver, Eniyavan found his passion for idlis in a very unlikely place.
One day, when he was out in his rickshaw, he was hailed by a passenger who was carrying a huge trough of idli batter. Her name was Chandra, and she ran a small business of selling idlis to local eateries.
She soon became a regular passenger, and inspired by her; he set up his own shop, named Mallipoo Idli in Chennai.
If you think the idlis sold at Mallipoo Idli are just your regular rice cakes, think again. He sells over 30 varieties of idlis in his shop and has innovated over 2000 varieties in total! He has even attempted his luck at the Guinness Book of World Records by steaming a 124.8 kg idli!
His “innovative” streak does not end there. Speaking to The Hindu, he said that when his children asked for pizza, he steamed a plate of idli batter, added some leftover poriyal and came up with pizza idli!
One of his first innovations was the tender coconut idli, although it wasn’t an entirely novel idea.
“I add coconut water to the batter instead of water,” he says, adding that, “This is nothing new. My grandmother would do this when she readied batter for appam.”
What motivated Eniyavan to come up with so many varieties of the simple dish? “Some feel that the idli is boring. I want to change that, and ensure that it gets its due,” he says.
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And he is definitely succeeding in his attempt! According to the Deccan Chronicle, Eniyavan was presented with a doctorate from an American University for his experimentation with idlis even though he is a Class VIII drop out.
Spicy, sweet, or both—with over 30 varieties of idlis like the Mickey Mouse shaped idli, Kung Fu Panda idli, and veggie idlis on offer, Eniyavan’s customers are spoilt for choice, making the idlis an unlikely but must-try innovation.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)