Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Idli

My mother makes the best Idlis in the world. That's not an empty boast. Whenever there is a get together in our apartment / colony it was always her responsibility to make Idlis. People always say "Aachi, how do you make such wonderful idlis?". For the last ten years she has been thinking about making Idlis as a business. Every now and then we all get together and discuss various business models and at the end drop the idea. Too difficult, distribution is a headache were the common reasons.


This year she finally decided to sell Idli batter (maavu) to the neighbourhood grocery shop. So with my father pitching in with the sealing machine and me buying plastic bags, she started her business. It was with small quantities, 2 kgs on alternate days. After a couple of days the shopkeeper said, "You are using high quality rice. Normally people use ration rice for this, so why don't you also do the same?". The board of directors of the business (myself, my father and mother) sat together and decided that quality is more important and we would not sacrifice that.

It has been two months now and she is doing good business. People come to our home directly to buy. She is not keeping clear accounts and I don't know what is the ROI. But the effect of the business on my mom is awesome. There is a spring in her step and she feels that she is finally doing something on her own.

19 comments:

ammani said...

Fantastic idea. And good luck to your amma.

Nilu said...

Very important aspect : those who actually 'buy batter' would obviously be novices who won't know how to cook well. So, they will screw it anyways.

And, am pretty sure, I cook 'idlis' better than your mom and chutney better than anyone else who walked this Earth. This ain't no empty boast either. I am an awesome cook. Not just awesome, amazingly awesome.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting. All big businesses of today, started small one day.

D Govardan

Chenthil said...

Nilu, there are things you still don't know. Most of those who buy the batter are working women who want to be saved from the hassle of preparing batter. So they do not screw it up necessarily.

And I challenge you the next time you come to Chennai:-).

Ammani, thanks. This idea has been in vogue for years. There are people in Anna Nagar who sell upto 100kgs a day.

Govardan, are you the person who wrote about Sujatha's place in Tamil literature. That was a great review of the writer.

Nilu said...

Chen,
I find your reply sexist - from both ends :P

Also, I wish to declare, I am an awesome cook. A cook so well accomplished, most people would prefer my cooking to sex. Am just awesome. No, amazingly awesome.

Anyways, did you know that 'idli' finds a mention is Manasollasa (1100 AD?)- that thing that we last heard in some trivia bowl.

Bachelor said...

man,

just as i sat down with a sandwich in my hand, i see this mouth watering pic of idlis. now i just dont have any interest in eating this sandwich.

I usually buy idly/dosa maavu at Indian grocery stores here... but they are so watery and bad. No other go though. One of the sacrifices you make when you leave India. You are doing the wise thing Chenthil. Stick close to you Mom and enjoy her idlis daily...sigh!

tilotamma said...

alrite - do I get samples when I come over to Madras next year?

(waiting for your characterisitc sarcastic reply :-))

Thangavel said...

A new (old) entrepreneur is in the making. Give me your address. I would come and buy Idlis.

Chenthil said...

You are welcome Tilo. Am I that obvious?

Thangavel, send me a mail

ashok said...

hi chen...
Is idli actually a 'historic' tamil food? Its never mentioned in any of the early litratures until 920 AD ! Manasollasa (mentioned by nilu) written actually in sanskrit by Someshwara III around 1130 AD mentions idli made from urad dal not rice.
I read somewhere that the fermentation process was brought to india by chola-expeditions to indonesia or around there.

Anyway, we can be sure that its been our food for 1000 years atleast!

Chenthil said...

Ashok, enjoy the idli. Don't bother about the source. Wikipedia has great details about the origins of Idli.

Einsteinophile said...

Niice!!! More than anything..it's the satisfaction tht she derives!!
(But somehow...nuthin can convince me to eat idlis. :( )

ashok said...

I remember a 'very white, buxom & plumpy' kind of idli fittingly called "kushboo" idli that got very famous in the late 90s...(made from adding yeast i guess)...i dont know if its still available there or maybe they renamed it "jothika" according to changing trends?!

tilotamma said...

what can I say Chen?

You are nice mostly to some nasty commenters and save your sarcasm for the nice ones :-).

amam has your mom thought about marketing the side dishes alos? I hav enot even heard of some of them.

BTW I am coming over soon

The Talkative Man said...

Excellent. A nobel endeavour in honoring that wonderful dish. Kudos

Priya said...

Hi,
I am in US and would be very grateful if you can give the proportion of rice and urad used by your mom for the batter. what type of rice do you use?
Thanks

Paul Mathew & Rachel Paul - South Africa said...

Hi Nilu, i think you have some amazing qualities possibly over and above cooking. Your writing comes through very powerfully. That apart, why do you take one person's success so badly. Wish tem well and share in the successes. Think the right attitude will do us all good as a country. We are all very good individually but put us together in a room and we fight among ourselves...Good work Chentil. Great if you guys can motivate with little things, thanks for sharing your story. Go well wish you all the best. pm&r

Paul Mathew & Rachel Paul - South Africa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Mathew & Rachel Paul - South Africa said...

found some intresting stuff on Idli at wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idli