Exploring Kerala’s Idiyappams: History, Types, and Top 5 Haunts
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String hoppers, also known as idiyappams or nool appams, are a staple breakfast dish in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Made with rice flour and eaten with coconut milk or a spicy egg curry, these pressed noodles are a Southeast Asian delicacy also found in Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore. Literally translating into ‘punched snacks’, the word idi means ‘to punch’ and appam refers to just about any snack, in Kerala.

Known to have its first origins in Sangam literature, that documents idiyappams to be among the first few dishes that originated along with the idli, dosa, vadai and appam in the 1st century AD, where mould pressers were used to create noodle-like shapes with rice flour dough. Also known as noolputtu, a special type of press known as Santhangai was used in order to produce large quantities of these rice noodles. Traditionally made by soaking grains of rice and grinding it into a batter which was pressed, flattened and steamed on banana leaves, the idiyappams travelled to other countries – where it was served with grated coconut and palm sugar.

Known as putu mayang in Indonesia, idiyappams are served with flavoursome chicken curries or spicy meat preparations. As the dish travelled further from the land of its origins, the idiyappam evolved into being a recipe that was also made with tapioca flour, pumpkin squash, yams and pandan extract. These vermicelli-like noodles are commonly sold as street food across the states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, along with being a staple dish available in grocery stores, hole-in-the-wall establishments and South Indian food joints.

Based off of where you choose to get a fill of the idiyappam, the serving style and accompaniments vary from region to region. While the Sri Lankans enjoy a spicy sambol to eat with these rather bland hoppers, the populace in Kerala prefer to enjoy it with coconut chutney for breakfast and with a vegetable stew or aviyal for lunch. In Tamil Nadu, the idiyappam is cut into smaller pieces and tempered with mustard seeds, curry leaves and spices to make sevai – another popular breakfast staple. Here are some of the different types of idiyappams you can enjoy:

Masala Idiyappam

Made by cooking down onions, tomatoes, curry leaves and flavoured with dry spices like red chilli powder and turmeric, the masala idiyappam is a chatpata snack that can be made with pre-cooked idiyappams, cut into smaller strands. Best enjoyed as a tea time snack, this savoury dish is packed with flavour.

Lemon Sevai

A simple preparation akin to lemon rice, the lemon sevai is a breakfast classic paired with coconut chutney. With the bright citrus flavour of lemon juice and crunchy texture from the chana dal and peanuts, this tempered idiyappam recipe is simple to recreate at home and enjoy as a quick meal in the mornings.

Egg Kothu Idiyappam

With a medley of whole spices like cinnamon and bay leaves, a spicy scramble of eggs and strands of idiyappam mixed in, the kothu idiyappam is made on a flat, plancha-like tava, to order in snack shops across Tamil Nadu. Similar to the masala idiyappam but packed with protein from the eggs, this delicacy is usually eaten for a light supper in the evenings.

Tomato Idiyappam

A tangy offering with slow-cooked tomato puree, this desi equivalent to pasta is an excellent way to enjoy idiyappams. Pair it with coconut chutney for a tangy-nutty mix of flavours, to enjoy as a light lunch or evening snack. Here’s a pro tip: add a pinch of garam masala to elevate the flavour of the tomato flavour base.

Parippu Usili Idiyappam

Have leftover lentil sabzi on hand? Sauté it with some chopped onion and curry leaves and toss some steamed rice hopped in it. A great mix of protein, carbohydrates and textures, this preparation is best enjoyed for breakfast on a day when you have leftovers to use up in the refrigerator.

Also Read: 

Parotta To Idiyappam; Your Ultimate Guide To Local Keralan Breads

Top 5 Places To Eat Idiyappam In Kerala

Hopper Restaurants (String Hopper & Coffee Hopper)

Known for a unique preparation known as the idiyappam biryani, this Ernakkulam-based restaurant offers a unique idiyappam experience for curious diners and biryani lovers. Order the Chettinad idiyappam, chicken fry and the okra mappas.

Brindhavan Vegetarian Restaurant

If you happen to visit Kochi, drop by Brindhavan to get your fill of the Kerala classics – puttu-kadala curry, idiyappam, pazhampori and parippu vada. Wash it all down with a cup of chukku kaapi or piping hot chaaya.

Alakapuri Restaurant

Drop by Alakapuri for lunch after a long day of sight-seeing in Kochi, to get your fill of idiyappam and egg curry, puttu and their signature tea. Enjoy this filling meal for lunch or dinner, to experience the full flavours of the spicy curry offsetting the freshly steamed hoppers.

Hotel Ayyapas

Enjoy all the Keralan staples of kappa-meen curry, puttu and idiyappam with stew at this Chendamangalam-based eatery. This restaurant is also a meat lovers paradise due to their excellent offering of porotta and beef chilli fry, also one of the bestsellers.

New Jaya Kerala Restaurant

Visit the Ernakullam restaurant at 3:00 pm on any day to get the freshest batch of steamed idiyappams, egg curry, beef fry and more. Drink a cup of filter coffee or ginger tea to enjoy the full experience and come out with your bellies and hearts full.