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Shashi Tharoor says idlis are the king of foods.

I am sure they used to be, but in most families today, they are not.

An idli meal would be a safe, healthy and complete meal if eaten the traditional way, i.e., an idli made with at least one-third urad dal and not more than two-thirds rice. The idlis themselves should not make up more than half of the meal by volume or calories. Half the volume should come from thick coconut chutney and the vegetables in the sambar (the liquid does not count and, usually neither does the dal in the sambar as there is too little of it). Half the calories should come from the fats in the coconut chutney, the sesame oil or peanut oil liberally added to the chutney powder, and the ghee poured over the idlis.

However, what we see in many homes nowadays is that the idli has become a rice cake with not much urad dal, and often even worse, rava idlis with no urad dal at all. They are eaten with a little bit of some watery, spicy coconut chutney and some watery spicy sambar with very little vegetables. This kind of meal is poor in nutrition and children especially must not be given such a nutritionally poor meal as breakfast. Almost all the calories come from rice and the meal is deficient in protein, healthy fats, and micronutrients.

Let’s get nutrition back on our breakfast plates at home. Lets use more urad dal. Let’s learn to eat more of the coconut chutney and sambar vegetables. Let’s liberally use healthy fats. Not doing so makes our meals unsafe for people who are at risk of lifestyle diseases like hypertension, diabetes, fatty liver disease, etc. It is especially unsafe for growing children who must get nutritionally complete meals.

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