Idli for President!

The first 20 years of my life, I hated idli. Oh, for my international readers, this is idli. Idli is to a south Indian what toast is to most Caucasians. Anyway, I hated it. What’s there to like – it’s bland, it’s a boring white, it’s not crispy, there’s no oil involved! Boh-ring!

And then I got a job and moved cities. From home, I went straight to this city called Hyderabad where the nearest idli was at least 20 km from where I lived. When you’re a single girl, on your own in a big city for the first time, dependent on public transport, it might as well have been 2000 km. For almost a year, I didn’t eat good idli. The ones I did eat were not even in the same food group as idli. I missed the buggers!

Then wedding happened. And hey, my mother bought me this wet grinder to make my very own batter and all my idli fantasies took flight again. Heaven.

Without further ado, here’s my idli journal. These were made in the course of the last month or so. See. And enjoy.

Idli, with Sambar and chutney. The Holy Grail of South Indian breakfast.

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Idli, with Chicken curry. Typical breakfast fare in a Telugu household when the son-in-law is visiting.

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Idli, with Peanut chutney. This is my childhood, at my maternal grandmother’s house, on a plate.

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Idli, with Pappulusu. Rayalseema fare. Comfort food when you miss Mommy.

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Idli, with Kurma. This is my humble idli making the most of a parotta-chapati invasion from the North.

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Idli, with Kumbakonam kadapa. Native of Tamilnadu but very joyously adopted into a Telugu household!

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Idli, made with oats, with Tomato pachadi. This is my idli adapting to the health conscious 21st century.

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These are just the ones I made and had the patience to take a photo of before stuffing my face. There are countless other accompaniments and variations of the idli, it’s actually ridiculous.

So, let’s raise a mug of sambar and a spoon of chutney to this most humble, unassuming of breakfasts – to the humble idli, which let’s the accompaniment take all the credit, while silently being the rock (not literally, mind you) on which they all flow.

Idli for President!

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Blasphemously yours

After living in Hyderabad for over 12 years, I finally had Haleem yesterday. Yep, it took me 12 years to eat one of the things that Hyderabad is #worldfamous for (I’ve done the pearls and Charminar bit, so it’s not ALL bad, ok?).

And my verdict? Please wait. I cannot tell you just like that, no? You have to suffer the long story first.

So we drove down all the way to Tolichowki, to the actual Pista House outlet because the husband didn’t trust the freshness of the haleem at the little Pista House pushcarts/stands that were closer to home. Here’s where I mention that driving to Tolichowki in your sedan on a rainy Sunday evening 2 days before Eid is downright stupid. We realized that about 10 seconds into the Tolichowki area but it was too late to turn around (also because the nearest U turn was..well..not very near). So we kept inching along in bumper to bumper traffic, husband muttering curses under his breath (kid in the car!) every time a two-wheeler came too close to the car, searching for the outlet and suddenly on the roadside there were about 15-20 men, clad in green t-shirts that read ‘Pista House Haleem’, with an ID card around their necks. Yes people – meet the new way of service/delivery – they take your order right there on the road, go to the shop and bring back the haleem for you. You don’t have to get out of your car or search around for a parking spot in front of the shop.

We got one regular haleem, ie the one made with the mutton and one vegetarian haleem (you know, just in case) so we could do a taste test. 10 mins into our ride back and the car was already smelling of ghee and roasted spices. Drool slurp.

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Back home, fed the kid, bathed the kid, filled up the umpteen buckets and vessels with water (oh I haven’t told you about that, have I? Severe water problem where I live. Only 3 hours of running water. Except the spoons and plates, everything is filled with water. I hate this place.) and then finally opened up the cartons. Aaaaaand…

Veg and regular Haleem

Veg and regular Haleem

…well, nothing. I opened the carton, took a spoonful and actually hesitated for a bit. Why? Because 1. It’s mutton and I don’t eat red meat and 2. The way it looked, all gooey and gluggy and I don’t know, very unappetizing! I was hoping it tasted better than it looks, so I shut my eyes and took a wee bit.

Haleem

Haleem

And I hated it.

I didn’t go for the next spoonful. I tasted the veg version, hoping that’s better but no. It was lumpy, glutinous and totally, completely bland. The kind of bland that’s associated with baby food. Actually, I think my son had spicier food than that when he was an infant.

So now I’m thinking, what is the big deal? Did I eat from the wrong place? I doubt that ‘coz Pista House Haleem is supposed to be #worldfamous and all jazz. I could have tried Shah Ghouse Haleem, but dude, do you know what that hotel looks like? I thought I’d rather sacrifice on taste than compromise on hygiene, so didn’t go there.

My husband was ok with it, though. Didn’t LOVE it, but didn’t become nauseous and green in the face like me.

Well, that’s that then. No more haleem for me, thank you. I’ll just go sit with my Paradise Biriyani and be content.

So that’s what happened. A total anti-climax to a big build-up (in my mind, at least). Yes, I realize it’s blasphemous to live in Hyderabad and say I don’t like haleem, but what can you do?! Sue me? Yeah right.