Whoever invented the modern day iddiappam machine is either a sadist or a gym instructor. The one I have is made of brass with a little lever on the top that needs to be turned and turned and turned with one hand while the other hand attempts to steadily move it around an idli mould so that the noodles fall in perfect consistency.
I’m guessing the inventor this particular variant of the contraption, was both a sadist and a gym instructor, who I imagine blaring expletives at my failed attempt to get the noodles out.
“You call that turning? It’s barely even moving. Put some muscle into it. Not your back, Igor. Muscle. Oh what’s the use? Step away I’ll just do it myself.”
I did not recount this incident, failure to ‘press’ or harsh judgement on the inventor, to my mother-in-law from whom this machine was a gift. It is a really sweet gift actually, because she remembered me telling her how interesting I found iddiappams on a recent visit to Sri Lanka. It is, in a way, extremely nice and encouraging of her to help me get started on my food endeavours with a brand new press and two bags of rice flour.
Unfortunately, my husband ended up telling her how hard I found the machine to use. Worse still, he used the exact same words I had blurted out earlier in a fit of rage.
“If it isn’t rolling out easily, it means you haven’t added enough water,” she helpfully wrote me a text. “It needs to be soft and sticky.”
So I added a bit more water, some oil for posterity and had another go at the process. This time, it actually worked. The dough wormed out smoothly and the noodles we thin, nice and even.
Confident with my new skill, I decided to spice things up by adding a bit of natural flavour and colour to the mix. Since the dough needs to be kneaded with hot water, I thought, why not replace that with a warm bowl of spinach soup?
This resulted in beautiful, pista green iddiappams that I steamed and devoured with a contrasting, fuchsia beetroot pacchadi.
I did want to maintain a bit of tradition and make some chicken or fish stew to go with it. Of course, Sambar or Rassam would have worked just fine too. But honestly, by the end of that exercise (it’s still hard work, you know!) all I wanted was to eat my meal and be done with it.
So I take it back. What I said at the start of this post. The person who invented the iddiappam machine isn’t a sadist. I’m sorry. But they do know their way around a gymnasium because the effort it exerts from you will leave your arms and shoulders toned in no time!