THERE ISN'T A PALETTE MORE DIVERSE THAN AN INDIAN ONE. AND YOU'D BE HARD PRESSED TO FIND THAT KIND OF VARIETY FROM JUST A SINGLE SECTION OF THE COUNTRY ANYWHERE ELSE.
One of the earnest ideas behind The Permit Room is to introduce people to the sheer variety of traditional South Indian cuisine, but with a modern-day take on it. Essentially it's recipes from your ajji's (Kannada for grandma) kitchen, but served in a rather modern, and also cocktail-friendly form. Your ajji may or may not approve.
Thindi Tales is an attempt to take you one step deeper, the equivalent of getting you to eat meals with your fingers, and hopefully help you appreciate South-Indian cuisine in all its gastronomic glory.
This time, we bring to you our take on the classic and forever favourite—Idli, Sambhar and Chutney.
Or how we like to call it here at The Permit Room, the Non Resident Idli. You'll see why.
About Idlis. And Sambhar and Chutney.
If you’ve spent enough time, or just a weekend in the southern part of the sub-continent, there’s a good chance that you’ve been introduced to the holy trinity of south-Indian breakfast—Idli, Sambhar and Chutney.
The people who delight in this breakfast are broadly classified into two categories—Team Sambhar Dip and Team Sambhar Separate/Side le.
We don’t really take sides. As long as there's chutney, we're good.
The idli itself is a much celebrated dish down-south, with people consuming it not just for breakfast, but even for 'tiffin' and dinner sometimes.
It’s also a rather versatile dish—you'll find it at cocktail parties on toothpicks, fitness enthusiasts consume it after a workout with sugarless fruit juice, and moms force their kids to have it when they’re unwell thereby spawning a generation of teenagers who detest this lovely dish, until they grow up and learn the error of their ways.
It’s widely consumed because it’s light, easy to make, and practically flavourless. Which is where our other two key components come into play—chutney and sambhar.
The idli is only as good as the chutney and sambhar served with it. This is an unspoken law of idli land. Screw this up, and it doesn’t matter how fluffy or well formed your idlis turn out. It's a big "Beda Saar!" from us.
At The Permit Room
Since idlis are so mild, the opportunities to experiment with sambhar and chutney flavours are plenty. And that’s exactly what we’ve done here at The Permit Room.
We’ve taken this traditional combo and given it a bit of a modernist twist.
The idlis are presented like popovers with the sambhar served on it—but it’s not what you think.
The sambhar is made into spheres and placed on top of the idlis, giving it an almost egg yolk-like appearance. And we’ve transformed the chutney into a fluid gel, so it’s super smooth while retaining all the original flavours that a good chutney ought to have. And as a finishing touch, a sprinkling of ghee powder. Because, of course.
Our Chef says
"I always knew we had to have some form of the idli-sambhar-chutney combo on our menu. It's a South-Indian classic. But because we do everything a little differently here, I decided to try a modernistic approach—both in the presentation of the dish and also in the preparation of the chutney and sambhar. That way, even though our customers have the comfort of familiar flavours, it's still an exciting new presentation for them."