While most Indians will list idlis (South Indian savoury rice cakes) as one of the most versatile comfort foods, a British educator recently invited the wrath of Twitterati after he called the dish the “most boring things in the world”.
Edward Anderson, a history lecturer at the Northumbria University in the UK, replied to Zomato India’s tweet, which asked: “What’s that one dish you could never understand why people like so much.”
He, @edanderson101, replied: “Idli[s] are the most boring things in the world.”
Soon after, idli lovers from across India reacted to Anderson’s comment about the dish that consists of savoury rice cakes made by steaming a batter comprising of fermented black lentils and rice. While the dish finds its origins in South India, it is enjoyed by people across the country.
South Indian politician Shashi Tharoor’s son Ishaan Tharoor tweeted: “I think I’ve encountered the most offensive take on Twitter.”
Shashi agreed with Ishaan and posted: “Yes, my son, there are some who are truly challenged in this world. Civilisation is hard to acquire: the taste and refinement to appreciate idlis, enjoy cricket, or watch ottamthullal (a comedic dance and poetic performance art form from Kerala, India) is not given to every mortal. Take pity on this poor man, for he may never know what life can be.”
Many social media users shared pictures of their idli meals and wrote about why they enjoy the dish.
Tweep @MansiKhanderia wrote: “I am a Gujarati not a South Indian but we love idli [and] dosa (South Indian rice pancake) so much that they feature even in our fancy dinner menus, to the utter shock of my south Indian friends who have them only for breakfast!”
“You’ve made a grave error that I hope will haunt you for life,” threatened Twitter user @khemta_h_jose.
However, Anderson was not convinced.
In another tweet, he shared a picture of himself holding an idli and wrote: “Having accidentally enraged the entirety of South India (and its omnipresent diaspora) on twitter, it was only right to order idlis for lunch. I’m very sorry to report that my unpopular – or ‘blasphemous’, as some have said – opinion remains unchanged. #sorrynotsorry”
As per Anderson’s Twitter bio, he teaches Indian history. His bio states: “works on the politics and history of India and Britain, migration and diasporas”.
Anderson told the BBC that he’s had “many idlis in his life mainly in India – I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years and my wife is from Kerala. Idlis regularly feature at breakfast with the in-laws”.