The Idli Story: Have You Had The Real Deal Yet?

The Idli Story: Have You Had The Real Deal Yet?
Idli is a staple breakfast dish in South Indian cuisine, Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Hit these iconic places to experience the ultimate foodgasm!

Roshni Subramanian
October 23 , 2020
20 Min Read

Idli, sambar and chutney are a South Indian’s idea of holy trinity. Contrary to popular belief, India’s favourite breakfast item is in fact not Indian at all. The original recipe belongs to present day Indonesia and the preparation is similar to what they call kedli. 

Be it lunch, brunch or any hour of the day, idlis are sacred to Tamilians. The round, fluffy, savoury cake has been hailed as the 'king of breakfast' for all the right reasons: healthy, easy to digest, no fat and lots of carbs. We couldn’t have possibly asked for more. But the extensive preparation involved in the making can be a little daunting. While there are several variants of the delectable idlis, we prefer the classic ones. We’ve handpicked some of the best places to relish the ultimate idli experience. Head out soon while the plate is still piping hot!

Murugan Idli Shop, Chennai

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What : Oil Podi Idli Where : Murugan Idli shop . . Podi idli from Murugan Idli has to be an all time favourite for most localites in the city! Soft idlis topped with oil and podi, served with coconut chutney and sambhar is absolutely delicious 🧡🧡🧡 . . . Follow @tiffintrails for more updates on food spots in your city ðŸÂÂ’¯ . . . #foodblogger #chennaifoodie #foodofindia #southindianfood #idli #podiidli #eatlocal #chutney #sambhar #chennaifood #muruganidlishop #muruganidli #idlis #chennai #foodofchennai #foodbloggerindia #southindian #podiidlis #buzzfeedfood #legacy #foodporn #tiffintrails

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Keeping aside Bessie and Marina, if there’s one thing that makes us envious of Chennai, it’s Murugan Idli Shop. With 17 outlets throughout Chennai, their fragrant idlis smothered with tons of podi (gun powder) will tingle your taste buds like never before. From their first outlet in Madurai in 1991, to the several establishments in Chennai today, while the city has drastically changed, Murugan Idli Shop has stood the test of time. In addition to the delectable idlis, the restaurant also serves aromatic paniyarams, variety of chutneys and the showstopper Jigarthanda, which is a concoction of sweetened milk, ice cream and sabudana (tapioca pearls).

MTR, Bengaluru

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Mavalli Tiffin Room has defined Bangalore’s geography for years together. Be it any time of the day, one can find huge crowds flocking this place to savour the signature MTR rava idli with alugadde. With a history that dates back to the pre-Independence era, MTR thrives on its customer loyalty. With a committed staff comprising of head cooks and a dozens of assistants, the kitchen starts bustling at 3am. 

Veena Stores, Bengaluru

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If you’re on a strictly idli business, then Veena stores is the one shop stop for all your cravings. Started as a small condiments store in 1977, Veena stores today is a landmark spot for Bengaluru regulars. Their humongous idlis are soft, fluffy and interestingly, they do not serve sambar with their idlis. What you can expect instead is a spicy and flavourful pudina (mint) chutney made using the traditional mortar and pestle. The other must-try items on the menu are kesari bath, savige bath and upma.

Ratna Cafe, Chennai

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More often than not, it so happens that the crowd flocking the Mylapore-Triplicane stretch is there for the sole reason of enjoying the wholesome portions of sambar and cloud-like idlis. For many, it has become some sort of a Sunday ritual to visit the Parthasarthy temple, the beach and on their way back make a pitstop at Ratna’s. With a humble ambience and dirt cheap prices, Ratna Cafe is nothing less than a paradise. Though best known for its sambar, patrons claim that the ultimate idli-sambar combo here, is to die for. 

Saravana Bhawan, New Delhi

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It has been nearly four decades since Saravana Bhawan was first started. The first outlet was established on the outskirts of Chennai in 1981, with an aim to create a multinational chain similar to McDonalds. Today this establishment stands at 39 branches all over India and 43 branches overseas. We can’t recall a better rags to riches story than this . In Delhi, the chain has two restaurants, one in Connaught  Place and the other in Janpath. With a queue that assures a waiting period of at least half an hour, Saravana Bhawan is where the Delhi folk come for their south Indian cravings. Our recommendation is to try out the ghee 14 idli-sambar.

Arya Bhavan, Mumbai

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Located in Mumbai’s tamilian hub, Matunga, Arya bhavan is a legacy in itself. Having catered to some of the biggest names in Bollywood, proprietor Muthuswamy has today become synonymous with South Indian cuisine in the city. Quite different from the other udupi joints that Mumbai boasts of, Arya bhavan serves spicy sambar in giant bowls which go perfectly with their piquant idlis.

Ram Ashray, Mumbai

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Serving early risers and joggers since 5 in the morning, Ram Ashray has an extremely loyal fan base. Their home-style South Indian food draws influences from the Shetty cuisine. Their quick and efficient service has been lauded time and again. This 80-year-old establishment is best known for its spongy idli, uthappam, sheera, upma and flavoursome filter kaapi. 

Cafe Madras, Mumbai

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Finding a seat at Madras cafe at any point of time is the most herculean task you’ll ever undertake. Trust us, we’ve been there. Having reached the 75th mark, the cafe recently celebrated its platinum jubilee. For many, Cafe Madras is an extended part of their family. Having served generations after generations, the cafe boasts of an inimitable legacy. With idlis soaked in sambar and rasam and sprinkled with generous amounts of molaga podi, we are not surprised by the iconic status that it enjoys today.

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