CHENNAI:Freshly steamed hot idlis, cut and slathered with copious amounts of podi, served along with mor kozhambu can comfort even a person with an insatiable appetite. Umesh Vaidyanathan, founder of Idlies, a five-month-old eatery in Ashok Nagar concurs and shares that it was his love for both idlis and home-cooked food that prompted him to start the food joint. “I am not a conventional foodie. I am not the one to go and explore food in different restaurants. I am enthusiastic about my mother’s food. That's where the idea for the restaurant was born, from the basics,” shares Umesh, a former digital marketing professional.
What was initially a delivery-only restaurant, based out of Nesapakkam, Idlies opened its doors for a dine-in experience, owing to burgeoning demand. “When we were a delivery outlet, we tied up with retail stores and food chains to sell our products, predominantly podi idlis. We had an amazing response. There was also an instance where a couple travelled all the way from Gummudipundi to Nesapakkam after they heard about us. Though it was heartwarming, we were also disappointed that we couldn’t serve them from the delivery outlet. So, we decided to branch out,” he recalls.
We saunter inside the cozy 10-seater diner. We notice wooden stools, tables, a bright yellow wall adorned with the name board and several photographs of idlis, thayir sadham, and copper tumblers. An elderly couple orders a plate of the classic 'mor kali' and Umesh says, “Mor kali is a very simple dish, but most people in their early 20s don’t know about it. For them, it’s an experience and for the senior citizens, it’s a dish that makes them nostalgic.”
We enter their kitchen, and it’s a visual treat — melting butter on the tava, idlis being diligently cut with an apple cutter and packed in banana leaves, boxes of different variety of podis, creamy thayir sadham being packed in an eathern pot and everything that could make you drool. “The idea to pack the curd rice in a pot came on the day of Krishna Jayanthi. It was my mother's idea to use an apple cutter to cut the idlis. It gives a different look to the idlies and people like it,” he smiles.
The restaurant serves interesting accompaniments like mor kozhambu, thakkali kozhambu and tomato dhaniya chutney along with its podi idlis. “We don’t have sambhar or the regular chutneys on our menu. Though it could be a disappointment for people who come to the restaurant craving for good sambhar, I am sure that it will vanish after they try these combinations, which are quite rare,” he beams.
All the dishes on the menu are inspired from his mother’s recipe. “She’s the unsung hero behind the dishes. We are just giving it a twist to suit the commercial market,” he says, pointing to vella dosa, the only sweet dish on their menu. “It’s a multi-layered sweet dish with palkova, and kadalai mittai, served with coconut milk,” he says.
Other dishes include seppangkezhangu fries, which are topped either with red chilly or cheese and garlic, panagam and upma kozhukattai. “We have been getting overwhelming response. We are planning to expand and are also looking to open another outlet by the end of this year,” he adds.
The restaurant serves interesting accompaniments like mor kozhambu, thakkali kozhambu and tomato dhaniya chutney along with its podi idlis. “We don’t have sambhar or the regular chutneys on our menu. Though it could be a disappointment for people who come to the restaurant craving for good sambhar, I am sure that it will vanish after they try these combinations,” he beams. Other dishes include seppangkezhangu fries, which are topped either with red chilly or cheese wand garlic, panagam and upma kozhukattai.
(Idlis is located on 18th Avenue, Ashok Nagar. For details, call: 9551604056)