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Idli reinvented

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Iniyavan has given the humble idli a variety of looks and tastes.K. LAKSHMI reports

Out of the Box: Iniyavan has come up with over 130 varieties of idlis.Photo: B.Jothi Ramalingam.
Out of the Box: Iniyavan has come up with over 130 varieties of idlis.Photo: B.Jothi Ramalingam.

Can the humble ‘idli’ take on mind-blowing avatars? Can it break free from the grip of rice and urad dal? Does an idil always have to be round?

Kovai Iniyavan has the answers. He has come up with over 130 varieties of idlis. They cover a wide geometric ground, shaped liked a square, triangle, star and a heart. They come in breathtakingly different combinations and flavours too – to name some, vegetable pizza idlis, pineapple idlis, chocolate idlis, badam idlis, coconut flower idlis, cononut-water idlis and tutti-fruiti idlis. “When I came to Chennai in 1997, I dreamt of making it big. I would write to owners of marriage halls and caterers for orders. I would make idlis in kitchens of marriage halls served them piping hot. The effort was well received,” says Iniyavan.

His fame spread, and his idlis made it to the plates of celebrities. “Children would love the idlis made of orange, apple juice and shaped like dinosaurs and ducks. I recently made bitter-gourd idlis and pudina-chutney stuffed idlis,” says Iniyavan

He has even made an attempt at entering the Limca Book of Records, when he prepared three idlis that weighed a total of 90 kg and 140 kg at two different events. “I am now planning to open a company ‘Mallipoo idli’ to take bulk orders in north Chennai. Also in the offing is an exhibition to showcase 250 varieties of idlis. Training programmes in idli-making for women is also planned,” he says.

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