Idli-dosas, anyone?

When one of our neighbours tells me, ‘I loooooove south Indian food,’ I groan silently and roll my eyes mentally.  While it is a very broad hint for me to invite her (and her family) for lunch/dinner, which I am always happy to, I am sick of the menu that is expected. In fact, it has remained unchanged since my childhood when my mother used to entertain our neighbours — itali, dosa (d as in dog), sambher , bada and chutney!

It is my pet fantasy to lay out a spread of  poriyal, kootu , mor kuzhambu, sweet pachadi, mixed rice, sweet pongal – in short everything except  the ubiquitous idli-dosa-sambar.

Before the advent of satellite TV with its cookery shows from various regions, DD just gave us a (over)dose of culture — Bharatnatyam, Garba, Bhangra and kathakali. Even today in fact, these channels continue churning out stereotyped images of various regions. And so we began associating these art forms to the respective states. Post 24×7 invasion of the TV of our homes, other things like food and dress from various parts of the country began catching our fancy. This in turn set off a new game of associations: south Indians eat idli-dosa and do Bhartanatyam (maybe as they eat?), Gujaratis eat dhokla, wear the sari differently and dance garba and so on and so forth.

Make no mistake. I am very proud of the fact that these snacks have become universal favourites along with such stuff as pijjha, burger and ‘noodals’. But the assumption that the we eat only these to the exclusion of everything else is what gets my goat. Does Italian food begin and end with pizza? Or for that matter Punjabi cuisine is only ‘chole bhature’?

Some even look at me disbelievingly when I tell them that I make sambar and rasam only occasionally and idli-dosa only if we are expecting guests or friends who like them. At home, it is oats for breakfast and roti-subzi-dal-chawal for meals. It is not just us, but most south Indians settled in the northern parts of the country have adopted this meal pattern. They look at me as if I am lying and trying to get out of giving them a treat when I say this.

One of my Delhi friends explained why the masala dosa is so popular in the north in comparison to other snacks.  According to her it is the most north Indian of south Indian foods if you know what I mean. ‘It is a complete meal to us – the dosa is the equivalent of roti, the sambar is the dal and the potato filling is the subzi, with chutney to boot’, she explained.  Wow! I never thought about it like that, did you? So while it is a breakfast dish/evening ‘tiffin’ in the south, our north Indian brethren have it as a meal substitute.

They make itali-dosa at home and try teaching me the nuances of grinding the batter! I don’t mind it one bit as I am happy and proud that it has become a part of their repertoire! As for adapting dishes to suit one’s tastes, that is welcome too, for that is how the popularity of a particular dish spreads, I guess. Haven’t we sufficiently Indianised the pizza and noodles? We get tandoori chicken pizza and curry noodles, if you please!

Some of my friends actually like their version of the sambar and chutney and wrinkle their noses at the original stuff as they find it too ‘south Indian’! I can understand that since I am pretty sure that most of us would not be able to enjoy authentic Chinese noodles or maybe even the pizza.

Before north Indians take offence, let me hasten to add that the situation is not too different in the south. To them, north Indians only eat ‘sukka roti’ (phulkas), chola- batura, samoosa, panneer, chenna (chana) and  chat (pronounced as in ‘chat’ting. The other words have been spelt as they are generally pronounced in the south).

Just as the north Indians have adapted the art of making idli and dosa to suit their palates, south Indians have sufficiently southernised the matar paneer or other subzis. We once had a Tamil cook in Delhi who made a tadka of mustard, urad and chana dal (the standard tadka for SI cooking) for all the north Indian dishes including  palak paneer and aloo matar . Needless to say, they all tasted like the good old poriyal or kootu!

This is not to say that all north Indians like the south Indian ‘foods’ and vice versa. There are those from both sides of the Vindhyas who can’t stand the sight of idli-dosas or the masala soaked north Indian foods as the case may be. But by and large the these are favourites.

Today we can go so far as to say that the idli-dosa, matar-paneer, dhokla and roti-subzi are as much pan Indian foods as the salwar- kameez and kurta-pyjama are pan Indian dresses. No only that, even wedding rituals and festivals are assuming pan Indian identities. This however is increasingly a south-going- north affair. Awareness is a two-way street though. For example, earlier wedding receptions followed religious rituals in Tamilian weddings. Today they follow the baratvarmala pattern of north Indian weddings. Then again, holi is increasingly becoming popular in the south.  Conversely, the north Indians know about Ayyappan, the southern deity from the annual pooja celebrations that are held by Keralites in their societies; they also know about Navratri kolu and so on.

One interesting aside here: While Tamilians, Telugus and Kannadigas get classified jointly as ‘south indians’, the Malayalis merit a separate category of ‘Keralites!!’ Wonder how? Are they more visible or do they observe and uphold their customs more conscientiously?

Coming back to food, Indian food is so varied that one can spend an entire lifetime learning the cuisines of the different states and still not skim the surface. While it is a wonderful thing to have pan-Indian foods, is it too much to ask that the names of dishes whether northern or southern – at least be pronounced properly and that they learn a little more about the cuisines of other states before assuming that the people of a particular region just eat so-and-so foods?

As I said at the beginning of this post, the next time someone tells me that he or she looooooves south Indian food, I will invite them home promptly and cook exactly that  — and enjoy seeing them going into catatonic shock….before reviving them with fluffy idlis and crisp dosas and bucketsful of sambar!

63 comments

  1. Absolutely loved this post! Being a North Indian, brought up in the West and now living in the South along with living in US and Europe, we eat everything at home. Parathas are as much a part of our life as idli, dosa, bisi bele bhaath, baghare baingan etc. And, yes I also get irked when people think that all we eat is chhole, puri and gorge on lassis. It is a pleasure to love and experiment with the different cuisines. And I do wish that I can eat all those delicacies some day soon at your place :). Dosas and idlis I’ve had enough of!

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  2. Hahaha…I agree with you, BM! Thank you for leaving the link on my blog. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have read this one. I don’t have many or rather any North Indian friends who would devour SI food. You know what, most of the SIs go to restaurant and order idli, dosa..nonsense…For me, first thing I don’t prefer to go Indian restaurants at all as I feel I cook better than them any day. And 2nd thing, when I know how to make idli and dosa at home, why the hell will I go to a hotel and eat the same stuff again? I just don’t get it..There are many Americans who love Indian food. So, when I make food and take it to them, I make it mild. I normally prepare in huge quantities and all they would eat is a table spoon of pulihora and say, OMG!! so much rice..so many carbs..my head!! Carbs is what we eat, I think in my head. They say love it and would want to eat as much as they starve. But when you take the food, they eat like Prasadam. And when guests come, I don’t mind making idli, but no dosa business…I am gone standing in front of the stove….poohhhhh

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  3. hehe really so cliched!! I am a hindu south indian from karnataka, but my name suggets I am a christian. My roomie’s friend once asked her my name and where I am from..
    She said her name is Jenny. So prompt came the reply, ‘ohh then do learn how to bake cakes from here, will you’.
    My roomie : ‘well err, she is not a christian, she is a south india’..
    Her friend ‘oh never mind, then learn the idli and dosa and oh oh very imp, dont forget the sambar!’
    My roomie: :-))

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    1. Mia culpa! I thought you were Christian too. See how gullible to brainwashing we all are! A family friend’s name is Jenny too but she is from Bihar and is again a Hindu. apparently her father gave her that name and another one has the name of Annie so named after the nurse who assisted in her delivery which was a difficult one. So did you learn to make idli dosa, not to forget the sambar? 😀

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  4. I have been living in the central government quarters since my childhood. I’m fortunate to have been brought up in an environment where you get to see people from all over the India. In-fact, there are different recipe of making Dosa in different southern States, each having a distant uniqueness. Indians are lucky to have a country so diverse in culture.

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    1. We are indeed lucky to be Indians living in India so that we can enjoy all the diverse cultures and cuisine. It’s truly unity in diversity, isn’t it?

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    2. We are indeed lucky to be Indians living in India so that we can enjoy all the diverse cultures and cuisine. It’s truly unity in diversity, isn’t it?

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  5. Indian food is one of the world’s best. 🙂

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    1. Welcome here Blognostic! Yeah your are right. Indian food is the best, isn’t it?

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  6. Loved the post! Food, food, food… one could go on and on! 😀

    Talking of which, I am a Malayali/Keralite. And that aside there piqued me. I thought Malayalis were also included in the ‘South Indian’ category. And often the label “Madrasis” denoted that you belonged to the South. Maybe it’s changing… I don’t know.

    And that’s one stereotype I loathe. North Indians are prompt to claim that they are Delhi-ites, Punjabis, etc. But why is it that “South Indians” are a bucket, not worthy of being distinguished?

    And the stereotype itself permeates into all facets, including the food. I am not being a torch-bearer for South Indians here; down South also, there were misconceptions of Northies and their food.

    Ah well, like you said, now people know the foods better….and still the stereotype sticks 😉

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    1. You don’t know how distinct the Keralites have become in recent times. In fact when you are identified as a south Indian the first question that is shot at you is, ‘Are you a Keralite? I know appam and you worship Ayyappan….’ 😀 😀

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  7. I have had food there :). Purba and I have been meaning to go on a food trail to Old Delhi since I live close-by. The day we finally decide to go for it we shall invite you to be a part of it.

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  8. Comfort food! yes yes that’s what plain dosa, idli,rasam, butter chicken, rajma, bhel, theplas etc etc mean to me but when I go out to I defi try to eat something beyond the regular stuff.

    Delhi that way has so much variety with the canteens at State Houses/ Bhavans offering the most deliciously authentic food at reasonable prices.

    We are gradually moving out of the stereotypical mindset

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    1. Oh the STate Bhavans serve great food don’t they? Have your tried the Andhra food? And yes, Delhi certainly has a lot of variety in food. We have stopped eating out once the brats left home. But sometimes we just take off for a bite somewhere. Once a foodie, always one, I guess. 🙂

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  9. Zephyr,
    Could totally relate to it! And, to me it happens in a broader context when my American and Chinese pals ask if we Indians eat *curry* every day and for every meal!

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    1. And I must agree, I was drooling too while reading your post. Pictures of all those dishes you mentioned were flashing in my mind one after another 😀

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    2. Oh yeah, the ubiquitous curry! And their version or imagined version of it must be totally weird too 😀

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  10. Loved reading this post. I am a Konkani raised in Bhilai and so have tasted most of the cuisines of India. At home too had a blend and after marriage too have followed suit. Initially My husband used to say that each meal for him is like an education.
    I love eating North Indian food when I am eating out. But seriously in Bahrain apart from a few punjabi dishes likes matar paneer, veg jalfrezi, hotels have nothing else to offer.(and each dish will have the same taste and have a tadka of curry leaves- imagine curry leaves in Punjabi dishes).
    I am not that adventurous in tasting cuisines form other countries mainly bcoz don’t know what ingredients they have put in it and vegetarian is not a word which they understand

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    1. I know about kadi patta in matar paneer. Our tamil cook put that and the urad dal in the tadka of all the north Indian dishes 🙂 Unless the cook is an Indian one, born in India, restaurants abroad are better avoided. And like you say, you never know what they put in the dishes either.

      Multi cultural marriages has ensured that at least the food is a mix of both and more. And that goes for those who have migrated to other parts of the country than their own native places.

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  11. Pratibha · · Reply

    Read the whole thing with great interest. All through, I was drooling while reading the never ending names of the dishes. At the same time i was framing my reply also. But Siddharth has written it all.
    Every year we go out for a vacation to a new place. My hubby makes 2 lists, one of the places to see, and the other of the things to eat, and if possible where to eat. During our 4 visits to South India, my children (who were very small then)would hate ‘thali’, which we would eat every day for lunch. I am glad, finally Siddharth agrees to eat local food. i believe in trying, if I like good, if I dont still fine. I remember when I ordered ‘kori-roti’ in Madekeri, the rest of the family hated to eat it the way it is to be eaten. But on my insisting, they ate.Next day they all wanted to repeat.
    Do I need to say we are a family of FOODIES. I love cooking, so I try different dishes. Sorry but I experiment it depending on the ingredients available and my family’s taste. I am being immodest, but i am known to churn out mouth watering dishes from leftovers. But dont ask me to repeat as the same combination of left overs and in the same quantity is impossible to be there again.
    Do I need to tell you, I will also come with Siddharth for great Sounth indian food, beyond idli- dosa- sambhar!

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    1. That was a great comment, Pratibha! Why only the two of you, why not your L&M and daughter too? The more the merrier, especially all of you are foodies. I can cook those many new dishes. And then you can tell me what to make of the left overs if any 🙂 And while we are at it, I am inviting myself to your place too 😀

      It is good when children are exposed to different kinds of foods to accustom their palates to different tastes. When my older son was a child, his paediatrician had advised me to give him a taste of what we ate — sometimes just a lick, but nevertheless a taste. Apparently, if that is not done, they never would want to taste or eat adult food even when they are slightly older. It worked well for me with both the kids.

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  12. there is nothing as tongue-tickling as a South Indian meal-despite being a north Indian I cook eat and relish all Southie stuff-keralite,Chettinad,Andhra.Something alluring abt the coconut-tamarind-curry leaf combos,I guess.I only reduce the red chillies.

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    1. I feel that when we approach food with an open mind, we will find all foods tasty and interesting. It is only when we have preconceived notions that we find them disappointing. As for chillies, only Andhra food is hot, the rest are normal with the option of making it hot or hotter. I cook normal hot food, except for some dishes like pepper rasam 🙂

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  13. hahahaha 😀 foodie post…

    When i was in Indore folks wr so used to Sambar with jaggery that wen i made “authentic” sambar they called me a cheater 😀 😀

    now a days ppl ask me about chettinad cookin.. they cant believe chettinadu has a vegetarian face too.. sigh!

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    1. Somehow Chettinad cuisine has caught the fancy of people everywhere. Like Keraites, they probably know how to make their cuisine visible. the reason why this misconception exists is the fault of the media again. In any cookery show featuring Chettinad cuisine, they only show non-veg recipes.

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  14. Was in Chennai for the last one month and most of my colleagues and friends “sympathised” with me regarding what I may have had to endure in the food department. Personally I was very content with the Tamilnad meals served up in the neighbourhood Sangeetha restaurant. Steaming rice, ghee, podi, sambar, poriyal, rasam, papadam… and all unlimited…. who’s to complain? In fact my only grouse was that they would serve North Indian thali only at dinner time and so I had to resort to eating different varieties of dosas, different things submerged in sambar and of course the occasional appam, iddiappam and kotuparota (read HEAVEN!). Personally, I always believe in sticking to the local cuisine of the place I have in. Rule of thumb: don’t trust a south indian near paneer makhani or a north indian near sambar. Recipe for disaster that one!
    On a more serious note, I have always maintained that the easiest and closest way to look at any culture is through their native/local cuisine. The food usually develops over many centuries based upon the lifestyle of the people. So while you need the extra masalas and ghee in North Indian dishes to keep the people warm during winters, the rice batter for the idlis ferments naturally in the heat as opposed to the havoc that the heat would play with pre-kneaded dough, a prerequisite for rotis/chappatis.
    Btw ZM, when can I drop in for a helping of sambar, rice, rasam and poriyal? oh and pls the pongal too 😉

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    1. Yeah, right. The Tamil meal is really satisfying if you can enjoy the various courses. I can see you have got the hang of not only eating it but also the names of the various dishes (at least spelt right :D)

      And hey, don’t knock all south indians who can cook north Indian food. Ahem…I can cook quite a few of them near authentically, thanks to my habit of learning the recipe first hand from an expert. But don’t worry, I will cook only south Indian dishes for you when you come. btw, when are you coming? I will make both pongals — sweet and salty,is that fine?

      your research into food patterns is interesting. I am actually working on one.

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      1. I love researching food habits because, as I mentioned earlier, it gives an insight into the culture and living conditions of the local residents.
        I love the salty pongal more than the sweet but have never been known to say no to food 😉
        whenever i say i’m a foodie, Maa comments that most people love food. And then I put the distinction: everybody loves good food (or at least a very high majority) but only a true foodie loves food – good or not so good (never bad, its food so it can’t be bad ‘cos obviously someone does eat it!)

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        1. I liked that one — it;s food so it can’t be bad…I am glad you love food and enjoy all kinds of it. It makes me mad to see people being too choosy about food and wasting it.

          You forgot one more thing about south indians eating rice. it is not because the roti atta will ferment but because wheat produces heat which is needed in the cold climes of the north and not in the south which is already baking and steaming.

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          1. Oh ok didn’t know that… i had read the “fermentation” theory somewhere….

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          2. My sis is a naturopath and she has done a lot of research on food as medicine and she is the one who gave me this info along with many others, which I will share in a post soon.

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  15. Long back when we’d just moved to Kolkata(‘Calcutta’ then) what really surprised us was people we met(be it shopkeepers, maids or people in banks, bus…) invariably asked us the same question – “Are you Madrasi or Hindustani ?”. And my mother never tired of stating that “we all are Hindustani, you, me and everyone around” ! For Bengalis in those days(dunno if the stereotype still exists)if you ain’t a Bengali, you’re either Madrasi(meaning from down south, don’t matter which state) or Hindustani(basically hindi speaking).
    You’ve really hit the nail on the head regarding this stereotypical belief based on food/region of people !
    Fantastic read !

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    1. That is amusing to hear, isn’t it? Even i have heard the term Hindustani used for Hindi and Madrasi! We sure have to thank the media for making people aware that there are more than one state in the south and that Madras has long been renamed — first as a state and then as a city! Sweet of your mother to explain to people about being Hindustani 🙂

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  16. 100% true depiction of how the TV influenced the thought process. You nagging about all these food stuff has made me real hungry. The crispy big dosa is my all time favorite food. yummy yummy. You nag brilliantly too!!

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    1. Thanks for the visit and the comment Subu 🙂 You came here from Anu’s blog, right? I love Dosas too. Maybe this one time I will make some for myself instead of for friends and family and enjoy it with molaga podi, which I prefer over chutney and sambar 🙂

      I just returned from the Goa virtual trip and am bushed and thrilled at the same time.

      do visit again and do read the L&M posts. You might identify with one of the characters 🙂

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  17. Every time I visit my husband’s relatives( they are from MP), they try to welcome me with ‘south-indian food’ 🙂 As much as I tell them, that I would love to eat their local specialities, they continue to welcome me with unfermented idlis and a different tasting sambhar 🙂 The same happens to my husband, he is treated to a mallu version of North Indian food, even though he is perfectly happy eating a ‘sadya’ 🙂

    But it is a sign of globalization that there is so much of intermingling of cuisine – even if it may be far from the original taste of the food. Who knows, in a few decades, Indian cuisine might be just this – a mix and match of the best of all the regions in India?

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    1. That sounds just fun. Recently we visited some friends whose mother, bless her soul, decided that she should make sambar for me since ‘you eat that everyday and would miss it’ (???!!!). Fortunately, her son told her to make her famous aloo-palak and so I was saved 🙂 The palak tasted divine, btw.

      It is just people’s way of showing their care and affection when they decide to cook the food of your region. But I’s still prefer the local cuisine anyday.

      We are fast moving towards a pan Indian cuisine and who knows, the MP version of idlis might just make it to the top 🙂

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  18. Ayyyyyo…(said with the pathos of a true South Indian..or should i say ‘keralite’) sitting in frozen brighton, all I can think of now are fluffy idlis and dosas..though must say the Anandha Bhavan in South Ham is the answer to all my prayers for some yummy dosas and little mini idlis floating in hotel- like sambar…you will understand when i say home-sambar and hotel-sambar are two different species right? Most people think sambar is just one homogenous thing…i mean if i go into the merits of ulli-sambar and the usual sambar for idlis…i see yawns from those who are dying for south indian ‘authentic’ sambar…the one thing i never eat in mumbai is the sambar there..there is something to be said about the bastardisation of south indian foods to suit pan-indian palate..but adding sugar???? really?? isnt that murdering the cuisine? hehehe…this is a happy rant..happy happy rant as I visualise hot hot idlis coming off the idli-thattu…oooh and a ladle of bubbling sambar poured all over it…heaven!!!!!btw, when i say I love south indian – do invite me and serve me koottu or puliyogare or any thing at all that you fancy..i go slurp slurp slurp for anything south indian..:)

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    1. Oh poor you in your freezing Brighton. No wonder you have drooled all over the page 😀 You Keralites do have a separate identity from the rest of us ‘south Indians’ as I have pointed out. What is the secret? 🙂

      I love ulli theeyal and olan and the chakka pradhaman and…..now it is my turn to drool. As for sweet sambar, it is the Kannadiga version or at least the Udupi version. One of my Kannadiga friends adds a little sugar to the chutney also — says that makes it tastier. Since I like a little sweetness in food — I loooooove Gujarati food too for that reason — I liked the sweetened chutney she served. But even my sweet tooth can’t abide by sweetened sambar 😛

      You are right about south Indian foods acquiring a pan Indian taste. As Mayank says, he only likes the idli-sambar served in Delhi even in Saravana Bhavan.

      You don’t need to say you love south Indian food to get invited home for lunch. Feel free to drop in any time you are in Delhi and you will get a spread, I promise. I rarely get a chance to make a South Indian spread so you are welcome 🙂

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  19. Crispy dosas – sambar – chutney – crispy udin vada are my eternal weakness. One can even try tempting me with non-stop supply of this and make me quit blogging too 😉 After marrying a pucca UP-wali , I am enjoying the best (and worst?!) of North and South. Initial days of our marriage my wife was surprised (horrified) by the plethora of non-Idly-dosa-sambar menu that my mom churned – Appam, Puttu, Kuzhi paniyaram, Iddiyappam, Pongal the list goes on and on with their own variants and siblings… Then it was her turn to experiment and counter attack us with the north Indian menu and deriving me as a guinea pig in the process and now I am happily found the right menu of my taste which is South Indian breakfast and North Indian lunch. Ofcourse but if it has to be kheer, it has to be south Indian Payasam 😉 Phew, we can talk and talk and talk when it comes to food, culture and ofcourse marriage 😉

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    1. Don’t go quitting blogging, for heaven’s sakes. You can eat with one hand and type with the other 😀

      Inter state marriages can truly integrate the culinary styles of the two states. I can just imagine your wife”s consternation at being served all those rice based ‘tiffins,’ which we find so delectable. To the north Indians, rice is akin to a meal. I am glad you have arrived at a balance in your eating habits. So do you make the south indian breakfast and she, the north indian lunch?

      As for kheer, I am partial to the north Indian one. I also love the creamy phirni; so yummm…

      All this talk of food has made me hungry and I am going to have an early dinner. Psst..I have made vazhai thandu poriyal today 🙂

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  20. I think now there are a variety of Dosa/idly, just not a dosa! Like Onion dosa, cauliflower dosa,neeru dosa, mutton /chicken dosa, set dosa, jack fruit dosa (tastes so yummy!),Adde dosa so on so forth. In Idly, you have fried idly, rava idly, mini idly as well. Try experimenting?

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    1. But SRA, these dosas are all the innovations of creative chefs. Personally i am not too fond of them. but if the filling is tasty, I eat it separately and eat the dosa with the chutney 🙂

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  21. Hehe.

    Me: Gujju. Me: Dhokla-eater. Me: Garba-dancer. How stereotypical can one get? Except for the first part, the rest is fake. I cannot dance the garba – let that be any dance – for my life. Dhokla, yes I do eat, but am not too fanatic about it. In fact, the ‘Gujju’ part is thanks due to being born in one family, and for the strictness of my grandmom that I learnt to read the language. The rest of my cousins, and those educated in the English medium – leave alone reading the language, they can’t even speak the language properly without bastardizing a few Hindi, Marathi or English terms, making it a Bombayite Gujarati more than anything else.

    And in terms of dosa – how many people know of the varieties of dosa? 3, some say: Plain, Paper & Rava. Do they even know the rest of the varieties? I guess not. I don’t know all of them, and I’ve tried quite a few.

    Coming to Dhokla: Most assume that there are two types: White, made from rice, or yellow, made from grams. Actaully, they can’t be more wrong. There are quite a few varieties here, that range from green to yellow to white to brown – any colour naturally existing in the vegetarian food groups finds its way into a dhokla variety.

    I’ve been a food-purist of sorts. So If I’m in North India, I’d prefer to eat North Indian food, local style. That’s how I got to know that the North Indian kofta in Malai Kofta is salty, not sweet, as it is in Mumbai. And that there is a sequence to eating the curries and rasams in a Tamilnad Thali at Saravana Bhavan in Chennai. hence, I do understand your gripes, but am not guilty of them. When in Rome….

    In terms of your gripes about the wrong pronunciations, well there’s a simple reason: Indian languages differ in some basic components. ‘Tamil’ itself is a grossly mispronounced word at times. English has fewer consonants & vowels. Obviously, Indian nouns tend to be misspelled, and mis-transliterated into other languages if English is used as a median language.

    Regards,
    Grondmaster

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    1. Hey Grond, I don’t dance the Bharatnatyam either though I do eat idlis and dosas 😀

      The various dosas and idlis and maybe even dhoklas are the result of creative chefs, since the original masala dosa comes filled only with potato bhaji. I have heard of chicken filled dosas too! So like my friend said, it is treated as a roti and such fillings make them akin to kathi rolls. I guess.

      I am glad that you enjoy the original cuisines of the regions you visit. I am thinking of writing a post on the spiritual sequence of south Indian vegetarian food. As I mentioned in my response to Mayank’s comment, it is very difficult to find authentic cuisine of a region these days, When we had visited Guwahati some years ago, we had gone in search of a restaurant that served Assamese food instead of the ubiquitous matar paneer etc. which is available from Kashmir to Kanyakumari.

      What makes me mad about pronunciation is that even after knowing the right way to say a word, people insist on pronouncing it the way they deem fit. At least let the well known dishes be pronounced properly, is all I ask.

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  22. Stereotyping in ‘culinary area’ is often an offshoot of innocent ignorance 🙂 . And it sometimes works the opposite way too. I had gone for a trip to Kerala n TN in May this yr and faced reverse stereotyping lol. At atleast 2-3 restaurants in TN, people assumed that since i am from delhi, i will want to have panjabi / north cuisine only. I had to mention 2-3 times if i wanted something else. 🙂

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    1. Hope you didn’t eat the punjabi dishes unless you made sure that it was cooked by a Punjabi, or else they might have tasted like what my cook used to make 🙂

      Another sad thing is that wherever you go in India today, you will only find these pan-Indian foods. Regional cuisine has vanished from the cities. So if you want to eat the authentic food of that region, you’d better maskofy some friend to invite you home.

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      1. I did eat once .. but wsnt brave enuf to try again 😛 . One thing though I noticed that some part of the local southern cuisine (Idli-dosa mainly) is prepared better in Delhi than south itself. Its a purely subjective observation ofcourse ..I found the fare offered in places like sarvana bhawan here as much better than that in Chennai / other parts of TN. Effects of globalisation may be? 🙂

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        1. LOL Honest, aren’t you? Yes, it takes a very very adventurous palate to try out regional dishes AND enjoy them. The latter is actually an acquired taste, something that grows on you slowly. As for liking the southern dishes prepared in Delhi, the restaurateurs have studies the palates of this region and are catering to them that’s all. And yeah, effects of globalisation too.

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  23. that was a superb read!
    so true!

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    1. Btw, do you or don’t you like dosas? 🙂

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      1. I like specific dosas like the sada dosa or uttappa 🙂
        When can I drop in?

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        1. Oh lovely! I don’t like all those fancy fillings either. Drop in any time, er… give me a day’s notice to get the batter ready 😀

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  24. I guess people expect those stereotypical dishes cause those dishes have become popular because they have a universal appeal.

    Frankly speaking, till the time you do not live in a particular region or state of India, you cannot know about the everyday dishes the people in that region eat. Plus, we cannot forget the different ways of making the same dish in regions of the state and which is so different that you sometimes think you are eating an entirely different preparation all together.

    Feels good to be back to reading blogs and commenting on them 🙂

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    1. Wow, LP back here! I had begun thinking you were releasing another book! I went to your blog but you haven’t updated it yet 😦

      You are right about a dish changing character so much that it ends up tasting like a new one 🙂 I guess I was being unfair about people not knowing that we eat differently from their perceptions. But there many people who have travelled all over the country and yet have such notions. What of them?

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  25. Loved this one! someone came home the other day, and was surprised that i hadnt made rasam. they were even more surprised (or maybe I should say, horrified) when i told them that i make rasam maybe about once a week, and the same with sambhar or kootu… i much prefer making dal or chole, or any north indian kind of sabzi with rotis!! and this when i absolutely love idlis and can eat them 365 days in the year (and actually did too, when i was in school!!) of course, getting my son and hubby to eat them is impossible, so we all eat cornflakes and oats now!!!

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    1. Welcome here Anu. I visited your blog and loved it 🙂

      You haven’t mentioned whether your guest was a south Indian. Often, they feel sorry for those who eat ‘sukka rotti’ without slurping the tangy tomato rasam rice. My older son used to like south indian food and the younger only the dals and subzis. So in my house there used to a mix of both sometimes. Know something? I ate good old masala dosa in a hotel only when I was in my teens!

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      1. aaH.. YOU hit the nail on the head! I get these reactions from both, the southies and the northies… the southies are surprised that i can do without rasam and sambhar…and the northies wonder what we eat!! of course, as you say, the chole i make is a southie version too…so we are really the mixed up kind in every way! as to eating out, i hate idlis and dosas in hotels…. and eat them only when there is no other option! i so love parathas for breakfast, which is why i love travelling to the north!

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        1. Luckily we can eat parathas for breakfast for prolonged periods if necessary, unlike my cousin who had come on a tour of northern cities and had started gagging at the sight of them having had to eat them every day 🙂 No wonder tour operators bring their own cooks to cater to the palates of their tourists!

          I am a stickler for the ‘real’ taste and so don’t miss an opportunity to learn the right way of making a particular dish of a region using the requisite ingredients. Somehow, unless I see the exact way it is cooked, I can’t get the hang of a dish.

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  26. I reckon, I was totally guilty of what you so bluntly state in your blog! Despite having so many south Indian friends who have hardly lived in the south, I still expect them to dish out idli-dosas and filter coffee when I visit them and like you said, unless its spiced up in the way I eat it, I never did appreciate the food !I m sure my friends’ moms shared your sentiment :)But I guess, somehow, down the road, as I saw the world becoming smaller by the day and the world cuisine being adapted in India including not just pizzas and burgers, I guess, an assimilation in just our country is but natural and it certainly is a treat to eat the best of all regions in weddings and functions! And yes, I do exchange recipes of ‘thalipeeth’ for the tamarind rice!

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    1. Mmmm, thalipeeth, did you say? It has made me nostalgic for my childhood days when one or the other of the neighbours would send a hot platterful of them 🙂

      So you are one of those who loooove south Indian food, are you? And yes, I am sure those moms would have felt like me too. For my part, I loooove Maharashtrian food and I mean the vegetarian cuisine, not just a dish. Slurp, slurp. Unless we try out some particular food, how can we reject it as something we won’t like?

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  27. This is UNCANNY! My long pending yet to be published post is about the stereotypes a Bengali faces!!

    All I can say is tell me about it! I love the fiery Chettinad curries, fish gassi, Prawn koliwada, the soothing vegetable stew, the fluffy appams, vegetable kurma, the angry Mangalorean curries…..And in summers give me curd rice any day. And all these cuisines -Kannada, Mangalorean, Andhra, Tamilian, Malayalee are remarkably different.

    I get tired of “friends” expecting “mustard fish” from me. I hardly cook it!!!

    I think most of these stereotypical notions stem from ignorance and lack of interest.

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    1. Hey, is that uncanny or just ‘great minds’ etc etc. 😀

      You are a real foodie, aren’t you? I feel sad for those who are not adventurous about different cuisines. They don’t know what they are missing and thereby lies the sadness! More than ignorance, I would think that it is lack of interest.

      Like

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