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Idli is not an authentic South Indian Cuisine, might have migrated from Indonesia!

The Sanskrit Manasollasa of 1130 AD has ‘iddarika’, but it is representative of being made from urad dhal flour only

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Idli. Image source: scdn.archanaskitchen.com
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  • In Tamil Maccapuranam, the ‘ itali’ made only a late appearance, in 17th century AD.
  • History credits that Arab traders often used to visit the southern coast for trade, even before the advent of Islam in the country
  • The Sanskrit Manasollasa of 1130 AD has ‘iddarika’, but it is again representative of being made from urad dhal flour only

In a shattering revelation to everyone who has believed Idli to be an authentic South Indian cuisine, the truth could be that the soft, fluffy rounds of rice might have migrated to India from Indonesia or have been brought along by Arab settlers.

According to K.T. Acharya’s (a prominent food historian) theory, idli’s are a relatively new introduction to Indian cuisine, quoted The Hindu.

He points out that the word idli might have been derived from ‘iddalige’, as mentioned in a 920 AD Kannada work, but the suggestions are that this was made from an urad dhal batter only, which was neither steamed for fluffiness, nor fermented.

The Sanskrit Manasollasa of 1130 AD has ‘iddarika’, but it is again representative of being made from urad dhal flour only.  A century later, in Karnataka, idli is described as being ‘light, like coins of high value.’

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In Tamil Maccapuranam, the ‘ itali’ made only a late appearance, in 17th century AD.

All these references point to these three facts:

  • Rice wasn’t used with urad dhal
  • There was no fermentation of the mixture initially
  • The batter wasn’t steamed for fluffiness

According to The Hindu, Acharya claims that it was only after 1250 AD that idli was made the way it is prepared today. He further points out that this absence of the present way of preparing idli could then possibly mean that idli is a migrated food item and most probably from Indonesia.

variety of idlis on display at Planet Fun in Vijayawada.Image source: www.thehindu.com
Variety of idlis on display at Planet Fun in Vijayawada.Image source: www.thehindu.com

The food is known to be an Indonesian dish because various Hindu kings from the country would often travel to India in search of a suitable bride. They often brought their cooks along, who in turn brought with them a technique that changed the nature of this breakfast delight forever.

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Indonesia also has a long tradition of fermented products, like tempeh (fermented soy cakes), kecap (the recipe we get ketchup from) or something called kedli, which Acharya explains, is like an idli.

However, other references available at the Al-Azhar University Library in Cairo suggest that Arab traders in the southern belt brought in the idli after they married and settled down in those parts.

History credits that Arab traders often used to visit the southern coast for trade, even before the advent of Islam in the country. The first mosque outside the Arab peninsula was built by Arab settlers who initially came as traders.

The Arab settlers were very particular about their diets. A majority of them migrated here when Mohammed was still alive when they were relatively new to Islam from Paganism.

They insisted on halaal food, and Indian food was quite strange to their taste. To avoid all such dilemma about what is halaal or haraam in food, they started making rice balls. Post making the rice balls, they would slightly flatten them and compliment it with bland coconut paste.

Later, it was improved upon, and from the 8th century onwards, the idli in its contemporary avatar came into being.

-prepared by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram. Twitter handle: iBulbul_

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  • Akanksha Sharma

    There are so many cuisines that we think are Indian born but they are not. For example, samosa came from middle east and Indians added their spices and techniques to it. Above article is a great article . Great Information.

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Road Safety At The Core of Women Empowerment For This Indonesian Startup

It aims to attract 5 million members over the next three years, making Queensrides the biggest women's empowerment platform in Southeast Asia.

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Indonesia, Queensride
Queenrides women members take part in a workshop in Indonesia. VOA

Iim Fahima Jachja cannot operate a vehicle and relies on a driver to get around the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, but that did not stop her from putting road safety at the heart of her women’s empowerment startup.

Since launching in late 2016, Queenrides has attracted 200,000 members to join its website.

Aside from reading articles about lifestyle and financial management, members can also gather in person for workshops covering topics like sexual health and family planning.

But road safety has been a focus from the beginning said, Jachja, a mother of two.

“When you are safe on the road, you can be the best you want to be,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Jakarta.

 

Queensride
Iim Fahima Jachja, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Queenrides, Indonesia. Flickr

 

Road deaths are high in Indonesia, according to the transport ministry, which counted 162,000 fatalities last year, compared to 136,000 in 2015.

In a country undergoing rapid urbanization as incomes increase, more people are buying vehicles, putting stress on the road network.

Many drivers avoid taking tests by paying corrupt officials for driving licenses, said Jachja.

The road risks are rising for women in particular, she said, because changing social attitudes mean that more of them are working and commuting.

At the same time, relatively few women have taken driving lessons and tests to acquire licenses, she said.

Only about 20 percent of 7,500 Queensrides members surveyed said they had taken a driving test.

“This is a major issue – this is a crisis – but people haven’t noticed the situation,” said Jachja about the number of road deaths in Indonesia.

Low-income countries have fatality rates more than double those in high-income countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Queensride
Road deaths are high in Indonesia. Wikimedia Commons

There were 104 million registered vehicles in Indonesia, a nation of 238 million people, according to the WHO’s latest report on road safety published in 2015.

Driving Safely

As well as enabling its members to exchange views and learn more about road safety online, Queenrides arranges workshops with input from the ministry of transportation and traffic police.

Participants have gone on to take driving lessons and tests, said Jachja.

That trend could make Indonesia’s roads safer, said Liviu Vedrasco, a road safety expert at the WHO in Bangkok.

“There are some studies that suggest women are more careful and follow the rules better than men,” he noted.

One of the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations in 2015 is to halve the global number of deaths and injuries from road traffic crashes by 2020, said Vedrasco.

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Queenrides women members take part in a workshop in Indonesia. VOA

As the number of female drivers increases, Indonesia’s ministry of transportation has stepped up efforts to reduce crashes involving women by working with outside partners, said Budi Setiyadi, director of land transport at the ministry.

“Queenrides is needed for women riders in Indonesia to be given a good education in driving safely, because women have a primary role,” Setiyadi said in an email. “They can educate their children, their families, and the surrounding environment.”

Growing

As more Indonesian women join the workforce and take to the roads, Queensrides can also help them assert control in other areas of their lives, according to Jachja.

For example, about 30 members gathered last month in child-friendly cafe in Jakarta to discuss family planning, and strategies for educating their teenage children about sex.

The United States-based Johns Hopkins University sent experts to the workshop part of a program targeting “married women of reproductive age”, according to Dinar Pandan Sari of the university’s Center for Communication Programs in Jakarta.

Indonesia, Queensride
As the number of female drivers increases, Indonesia’s ministry of transportation has stepped up efforts to reduce crashes involving women Pixabay

“The fact that in just two years, Queenrides has been able to grow from an idea to 200,000 women joining their movement is remarkable,” Sari added.

Queenrides teams up with other organizations to provide information on issues like women’s rights, while members can also receive financial planning advice from institutions including Indonesia’s Bank Mandiri.

As Queensrides’ membership grows, revenue from advertising on the website should increase as well, allowing the startup to expand its programs, according to Jachja.

Also Read: 3 HIV=+ Students Banned From School In Indonesia

She said she aims to attract 5 million members over the next three years, making Queensrides the biggest women’s empowerment platform in Southeast Asia.

“If you can conquer Indonesia, it is easy to conquer any other area in the world,” said Jachja about her homeland, a sprawling archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, and a multitude of languages and cultures. “Conquering Indonesia is like conquering five countries at the same time.” (VOA)