Here's the story behind popsicle idli

The South Indian staple, which got a makeover by a Mumbai home chef, has divided the internet. So how did Bengaluru find itself in the middle of the storm?
Popsicle Idli
Popsicle Idli

Food is a topic that either unites or divides people. This time, it’s the humble South Indian breakfast item, idli, that has divided the internet. Say hello to popsicle idli, the latest food item that’s been making waves on social media. It has sparked a serious debate online with some praising the creativity, while others are thrashing the creation, calling it an abomination of a dish that’s been around for generations. 

Created by Mumbai-based home cook Minal Badheka, Bengaluru somehow seems to have taken credit for it. Speaking to CE, Badheka says, “I’ve never made the traditional idli for my son. I’m a baker who takes baking classes for a living. So, I have several moulds at home. I use everything from regular cake moulds to Mickey Mouse moulds to make idli for my son, who is in Class 10 now. So it was just a natural thought process of mine to use a popsicle mould to make this shape of idli too.” 

While she shared her creation on her social media page, it somehow turned out that Bengaluru restaurant Colombo Idli House in HSR Layout got the credit for it. Owner Pandiaraj Paulpandian clarifies, “This viral creation is definitely not ours! We do have idli on a stick but we use kulfi moulds to make it. It’s been on our menu for the past two years since we opened the restaurant.” Since the photograph went viral, the restaurant has been receiving several calls about it and Paulpandian has had to clarify each time.

So what is it about the popsicle idli that people can’t seem to accept? Food blogger Naveen Suresh opines, “It’s ridiculous. There are food items that work well as a fusion and idli already has a version of it. A classic example of that is rava idli. Then it slowly had its version of millets, coloured ones and so on. But the whole point of eating idli is to break it with your hands, dip it in the chutney and sambar and relish it. Now, it’s just become like a modern South Indian dish, which we don’t really need. Frankly, I don’t even feel like eating it,” he says. 

Agrees food critic Priya Bala. “I don’t mind modernising food as long as it has a purpose. In the case of popsicle idli, what purpose does the stick serve? It just feels like an unnecessary appendage.”  Style aside, Pradeep Suryanarayana,  owner of popular food joint Veena Stores, says, “Perhaps this will bring more awareness to people that idli is a healthy food and youngsters might find it interesting enough to give it a try.”

Going viral 
Business tycoon Anand Mahindra took to Twitter to talk about the popsicle idli: “Bengaluru, India’s innovation capital can’t stop its creativity from manifesting itself in the most unexpected areas. Idli on a stick-sambhar & chutney as dips.Those in favour, those against?? (sic)” Soon, Indian politician Shashi Tharoor followed by saying: “Absurd but practical!”

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