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Seashell idli, anyone? - The Hindu

Seashell idli, anyone? – The Hindu

In 2015, when Chennai-based Anantha Narayan and Joseph Babin, the men behind Wannawill Inventorium, released a teaser of their new product — the shell idli plate — on social media, it garnered several thousand hits within a few hours. What it also did was draw emails from scores of interested people wanting to give their boring old idli a nautical twist. As Anantha said back then, the idea stemmed from the fact that nothing innovative had been done with the traditional idli plate for thousands of years. It was time to give it a makeover.

But it took a little over two years for the duo to begin retailing their patented shell idli plate, under the brand Terifica. “Blame it on a host of factors,” says Anantha.

“First demonetisation shooed away potential investors, then Vardah wreaked havoc in the city and extensively damaged the property of the vendor we were tying up with to manufacture the plate. Finally, Joseph and I sought an investor to come on board and help us get the ball rolling.”

Seashell idli, anyone?

They tied up with Anand Eruthayam and set up Terifica Appliances. Anantha and Joseph then went about brushing up their knowledge of metallurgy to see which kind of aluminium would best suit their needs and the kinds of teflon coating they’d need, to be able to oversee the production process personally.

“We’re weekend warriors; both of us continue to hold our day jobs and Wannawill is our hobby {they believe in changing the world one patent at a time},” he says.

The shell idli plate began retailing on their website (www.terifica.com) on August 15, 2018 for ₹1,947.

Here, there, everywhere

“I know it’s more expensive than a traditional idli plate, but the technology, the teflon coating and the production demand this price. In about 45 days, we’ve already shipped the product to over 40 cities; and to some customers in Dubai and Malaysia as well,” he says. They’ve even had a lot of restaurants buy the product.

Seashell idli, anyone?

“The shell idli plate lends itself to a lot of creativity. We’ve introduced idlis such as oats and carrots, coriander, rice shells with cheese and capsicum etc at our restaurant Dakshin Safari,” says Muthuswami Srikaunth, owner of the spanking new eatery in Ahmedabad.

The grooves in the idli plate, say users, are great for holding sauces and toppings, and the shape itself lends the otherwise traditional idli great creativity.

“Even the plain idli looks rather appealing and fits in perfectly with our aim of reinventing the otherwise forgotten food for youngsters who’d much rather pick up a pizza or burger,” he says.

Much ado

In keeping with the theme of reinvention, they serve theirs with oregano, chilli flakes and sauce instead of the traditional sambar and chutney, at least when it comes to the cheese capsicum idli.

Seashell idli, anyone?

For Richa Shah, a dentist based in Bokaro Steel City, the shell idli plate was something she’d been eyeing since the launch of the video two years ago.

“I mailed the creators and asked them to let me know the minute they’d begin retailing it; and they did. I am now happily making rava idlis and plating up some pretty food for myself.”

Back when Anantha and Joseph had first launched their video, they’d tied up with food blogger and stylist Sanjeeta KK for some innovative recipes.

She’d come up with an impressive range: there were beetroot idlis spiced with chillies, masala idlis with crunchy oats, idlis with broccoli and even dessert idlis made with cake batter and tutti frutti. Whatever the ingredients, the shell idli plate is stirring creativity in kitchens across the country.

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