Jasmine Asirvatham is a grandmother in her mid-seventies. She loves serving up traditional dishes to her family and is considered a repository of old forgotten recipes by those who know her.

The plain old idli gets adventurous

Vivikai or banana idli is a popular dish in Tirunelveli. Served as breakfast at weddings, vivikai is a favourite with my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

What you need

Raw rice – 1 cup

Idli rice – 1 cup

Black gram (urad dal) – 2 tbsp

Fenugreek (vendhyam) – 1/2 tsp

Grated coconut – 1 1/2 cups

Sugar – 1 1/2 cups

Salt – 1/2 tsp

Baking soda – 1/2 tsp

Sour curd – 1 tbsp

Big bananas - 3

Fried cashewnuts to taste

Cooking instructions

Soak raw rice, idli rice, black gram and fenugreek together for four hours.

Grind them with half cup grated coconut into a paste neither too fine nor too coarse. It should have the texture of idli batter.

Add sugar, salt, and sour curd and mix thoroughly.

If you add four tbsp of idli batter it will help the batter ferment. (In my grandmother’s time, 1/4 glass of toddy was added to the batter to make the idlis rise well and keep them soft.)

Keep aside overnight.

Next morning add one cup of grated coconut and baking soda and mix well.

Pour into idli moulds. Place banana slices and fried cashew nuts on top.

Steam for seven minutes. Serve warm.

Have a traditional recipe your grandmother taught you? Do send it to us by email at

mygrandmasrecipe@gmail.com or by post to grandmasrecipe, MetroPlus, The Hindu, 859-860 Anna Salai, Chennai-2 with the following and it may be published:

->a brief note of the dish and how you learnt the recipe;

-> ingredients and cooking instructions; a high resolution picture of the dish;

-> a two-line note about yourself with a picture;

-> your address and phone number

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