Beginner’s Guide to Idli Making

Last week was not an easy one at home – My mother-in-law was diagnosed with typhoid, my father-in-law had a fall from a ladder and had to submit his face to the scalpel of a plastic surgeon and I just fell victim to the unglamourous fever. The result, the Man was, for the first time in his life, in charge of the kitchen.

As if this was not sufficient to throw me into a panic, he called in re-inforcements which arrived promptly –  his brother who had totally spent about ah hour or so in a kitchen some ten years ago.

Morning saw us all gamely limp across to the sofa in the living room to watch the two brothers cook breakfast. My mother-in-law’s face reflected the anguish she felt at watching her two sons actually cook, mine reflected anguish too. My kitchen would never be the same, I was imagining the grime and grease I would find once I could get off the bed, the two men being united in their belief that good food can be cooked only by deep frying every single ingredient.

Thankfully, they decided to settle on the relatively healthier Idli for breakfast that day.

“What do we do first?”

“You buy some idli batter from the store”, I screamed from the sofa, my sore throat preventing me from normal talking.

“Can’t we just add some rice and stuff and make it here?”, a hassled husband calls from the kitchen. I can hear the vessels falling around and am sure I heard a few curses as well.

“No. Buy it.”

They buy the batter and get back home.


“Pour some oil on the idli plates”

“All right! Now we will show you how it should be done!”

“Nooooooooooooo. Just a pinch on each plate to spread it. You are not frying the stuff, you have to steam it!”

“Now, pour some water into the idli cooker and place the plates gently in it”

“Why do you need water? Are you sure you are giving us the right instructions? You just want us to look bad!”

“You have to steam it. Steam needs water”

“I don’t believe it. I am checking with mum”

Comes back, grunts and pours water into the cooker and places the idli plates on the second try. The first try has resulted in batter all over his shirt and the floor, but I don’t have the heart to say anything seeing his proud grin on getting it right.

“Let it steam for about fifteen minutes and then switch it off”

After fifteen minutes (he times it with a stop watch);

“Are these idlis? It still looks like batter to me”


“Did you remember to turn on the gas?”


After breakfast, “You know I never know what the fuss is all about when it comes to cooking. We have never cooked and still the idlis are perfect, fluffy and soft”

“The idlis are good because of the batter”

“Ha! You are just jealous, scared that we have caught you out. Cooking is easy!”

We had idlis for three days running. Cooking, he found, was not as easy as it looked.

And I spent the better part of saturday just cleaning my kitchen.

P.S I have just realised this is my 400th post in blogdom.


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