We try Chennai’s viral ₹500 idli at Adyar Ananda Bhavan

The viral idli comes with blueberries, almonds and a special podi charged with shiitake mushroom, Brazil nuts, ashwagandha and more. Here’s what we think about it

Updated - July 04, 2024 02:42 pm IST

Published - June 26, 2024 01:23 pm IST

₹500 idli

₹500 idli | Photo Credit: Thamodharan B

Idlis are most often the lowest priced dishes on restaurant menus. But at a whopping ₹500, this idli is Adyar Ananda Bhavan’s (A2B), no, the city’s most expensive idli. We set out to find out what makes the rather humble dish so expensive, and if it is worth it. 

This idli is currently available only in the restaurant’s OMR, Shashtri Nagar, Tambaram, Anna Nagar and Velachery branches. As we wait to sample it at the Shastri Nagar branch in Adyar, we notice another guest quiz the waiter based on what they saw on YouTube and learn that it has been made by A2B in partnership with health and wellness company AIWO.

₹500 idli

₹500 idli | Photo Credit: Thamodharan B

“Each of the ingredients that go into making this is proven to have benefits. We found that combining all of these in this form is the best way to give our guests this dish. Since idli is a staple, it seemed to be the best canvas for this creation,” says Vishnu Shankar, director, Adyar Ananda Bhavan. “We came up with the idea almost three months back and it has taken until now to launch. When people come to restaurants, most often they think they are eating unhealthy food and we wanted to change that mindset,” he adds.

The dish is built with several flavours and components. First, an idli is cut up and placed in a bowl. Then two spoons of extra virgin olive oil are added, followed by a spicy podi made with shiitake mushroom, aged garlic extracts, Brazil nuts, cloves, cinnamon, curcumin, ashwagandha and more. Next come blueberries and a handful of soaked and peeled almonds. This is followed by a generous pour of butter sauce, made with onions and tomatoes. It tastes similar to the base of makhni gravies. There are more blueberries and almonds before chopped coriander is sprinkled all over.

While only oil and podi seem like elements that traditionally belong with idli, the decadent butter gravy pairs well. A mix of the podi and gravy gives a spicy kick to the idli and the fruity pop of blueberries offers a mildly sweet and tart respite. To a dish that might otherwise seem mushy, the soaked almonds add crunch. However, let’s be honest, eating one supercharged idli is unlikely to result in dramatic health benefits, unless you count the glow that comes with social media clout.

“Since we launched last Friday, we have sold over 300 idlis across branches. People do say that it is on the expensive side but each serving comes with 100 grams of blueberries, imported olive oil, almonds and good quality saffron. However, we have seen people come back to order again. Many also order it online,” explains Vishnu. 

He also says that this viral idli is just the tip of the iceberg, adding, “There are many dishes that we are working on, which will also come with health benefits. Next is another idli, a non-spicy option. But that’s all I can say for now.”

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