Two years ago, a popular kitchen appliances company aired an advertisement featuring idlis. The ad shows how the particular company's mixer grinder made idlis so soft and fluffy that they were used to make garlands, decorate the home and to adorn hair instead of jasmine flowers. Soft, white and round idlis have become the symbols of culinary perfection in India.
From tiny button idlis to dhokla-like kottikas, there are two things common about rice and dal idlis- they are all white and round.
Well, that is going to end as just another stereotype– thanks to two entrepreneurs. Anantha Narayan and Joseph Babin from Chennai are challenging the entire antecedence of idlis by giving a total makeover to the dish. Their company Wannawill Inventorium recently earned the design patent for their latest invention, 'Shell Idli Plate', a non-stick teflon plated idli mold that produce 'scallop shell' shaped idlis.
“Idli is the most common breakfast dish that can be found across South India. And people have been making it the same way for as long as we can remember. The dish hasn't seen much innovation for 1000 years and people are eating it mechanically. So we decided to make it evolve,” says Anantha Narayan.
“Texture is important for every food. It is what makes food appear appetizing. So we did a research to transform same old idlis into a new shape. And then we came across scallop shells, which have a simple and beautiful structure,” he elaborated.
They have earned a patent soon after developing the design and approached potential manufacturers and distributors for bringing the product into the commercial market.
“Wannawill Inventorium is a one-of-its-kind company. It is a relatively novel concept and people are not aware of it. We had to work two years to bring out our first project since we were running on with no external support. We don't even have an office yet,” Ananth said.
“However,” he went on, “ever since a video advertisement was aired, the product has been getting a lot of attention. The ad has gone viral in social media platforms and we were approached by several interested parties ever since. Thanks to them, we are hoping to bring the shell idli plates to the market by January,” he added.
The have plans to bring two versions to the market, one with teflon coating and a more expensive one with ceramic coating. However, the team ensured that the products will be priced at an affordable rate as they do not have to worry about any establishment costs.