Monday, January 19, 2009

The Eater's Digest - 6

When it first started off in Chennai a few years ago, it had the 'Madurai' tag to it and was called 'Madurai Murugan Idli', following in the footsteps of the all-time famous Madurai Muniyandi Vilas. The similarity ends there. Murugan is all about tiffin items, whereas Muniyandi is all about heavy duty food; where Murugan is completely vegetarian, Muniyandi cannot be appeased without meat; and now, where Murugan has sought to play down the Madurai connection and become part of the Chennai mainstream, Muniyandi will never think of stooping to such levels. Maybe Murugan Idli is more Madras than Madurai these days. Their website lists five locations in Chennai and only three in Madurai.

Anyone walking into Murugan Idli expecting several varieties of idli is bound to be disappointed. They only have the regular soft idli, but several varieties of vadas, dosas and uthappams. Dreams of Kanchipuram idli, rava idli, ghee idli, idli upma, or even the miniature '14 idlis' are missing completely. There is idli and then there are the other tiffin items. It wouldn't be so bad if there was some level of consistency to the texture and the taste of the idli; sometimes it is hot to the point of being sticky and at other times it just melts in one's mouth. About inter-location variances, the less said the better. There is always a niggling doubt if all the outlets are run by the same management - except for the steel receptacles to hold the flimsy plastic water cups in place, there is little else that's common to them.

But when they get it right (and they very often do), the idli is just ambrosia. That's when one understands that all the others are just pretenders, there can only be one idli, as some of the purists say!

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