Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Tale of two idlies and much sambar

This is the second time I'm writing about idlies.
Considering I started off hating those steamed rice cakes, I've come a long way.
Now I no longer hate them, instead, I have swung to the other side of the spectrum, or to put things simply, I can fantasise about piping hot 'maligaipoo' idlies and their honourable consorts- sambar and chutney.
Not all idlies. My morning fantasies are about Ratna Cafe's idlies and sambar. For those of you who are not fortunate enough to know, idlies and sambar are the brand image of that idle cafe in crowded Triplicane, or if you fancy the original, then Thiruvallikeni for you.
In Triplicane, streets are about three feet where they are wide and about 1/2 a feet wide where they are not. It is a wonder how light and heavy motor vehicles, including buses and water lorries, ply on this narrow stretch, which is further constricted by vehicles parked on both sides of the street. It's no surprise that there are constant traffic jams on the road, but it's a miracle that suddenly, even as you look they all melt away and the road clears up, only to have yet another pile up.
But the pile up I'm fantasising about is the one that comes on a steel plate and swimming in patented sambar. Hot, soft, white idlies, the steam rising off them and the sambar. Along with a small cup full of fresh white coconut chutney! And as if to remind you how to eat it, there are two stainless steel spoons sitting gingerly on the side of the plate, drenched with sambar the waiter carelessly splashes out of a steel mug. Yes, MUG. And replinshes everytime he sees a minor fall in SLIP, short for Sambar Level in Plate, though you might not notice it yourself.
You are not expected to notice it though. Because in Ratna Cafe, everyone knows you are so busy slurrrrping, you notice the dirty/smoky roof has collapsed on you when you find particles of it swimming in the sambar. Or maybe not even then. Because you are experiencing the mild heaven two pancakes of rice and much lentil soup can surprisingly provide.
Like this....Sluuuuuuuuuuuuuurrrrrrrrrrrrrpppppppppppppp....

* * *

This plate of idlies is a dedication to Vanitha who I'm trying to appease because I missed her birthday on February 21. Will grovelling with a plate of Ratna Cafe idlies erase the past, Van?
Happy birthday, hope you have a great year!



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