Ramasseri would have remained a little-known village from the district of Palakkad in Kerala had it not been for a culinary legacy that existed for about 200 years.
Those who are crazy about Idlis already know what I am talking about. And those who aren’t would have gathered by now that this age-old legacy has something to do with the favourite South Indian breakfast!
But Ramasseri idlis aren’t like the quintessential round ones that you find in streetside shops, hotels or even at your homes!
Prepared by a handful of families in the locale, everything about this delicacy is distinct and unrivalled. More like Appams in appearance, these idlis are flatter and larger with a feather-like texture!
Prepared through a traditional yet esoteric method, this delicacy is the speciality of the Mudaliar community living in Ramasseri, which had moved to the locale, from Palladam near Tirupur in Tamil Nadu about two centuries ago.
Local history has it that this unique preparation was first introduced by the Mudaliars in Ramasseri who prepared them for labourers working in paddy fields.
Through word of mouth, the demand for the idlis grew, and they soon transformed a section of their house into a shop.
Since then, generation after generation of Ramasseri Mudaliars has been engaged in taking this unassuming business of idli-making forward.
In fact, the present day descendants continue to prepare them just the way their ancestors did, and they claim that the original recipe has remained unchanged, despite the passage of time.
The batter, comprising rice, black gram, fenugreek and salt, easily takes about eight hours to ferment. A special type of hearth is used to prepare these, for which logs only from the tamarind trees are used.
Now comes the interesting part.
Three to four unglazed clay streamers are stacked on the top of each other and then tied tightly with a piece of wet cotton cloth.
As the logs begin to flicker in the heat, the batter is poured over this arrangement, and in three minutes, piping hot idlis are ready!
Served with both dry and wet chutneys on a banana leaf, these delectable idlis find takers from far and wide undoubtedly for their earthy taste, but more for the fascination with the way they have been prepared for so long.
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So, idli lovers and foodies in general, in case you haven’t had the opportunity to try the Ramasseri idlis yet, it’s perhaps time to plan a trip. For there have been many stories where people have travelled all the way to this quaint village just to savour this legacy from a bygone era.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)