The recent #idligate – a Twitter war against a Brit professor calling the south Indian humble breakfast idli as "boring" had gone viral and made Indians jump out of their seats and respond cheekily. When there is a talk of idly, how can Namma Bengaluru be left far behind? Furthermore, how can the famous Brahmins' Coffee Bar be forgotten.
Never. It’s a blasphemy if Brahmins' Coffee Bar aka Brahmins’ is not referred to in a conversation involving the signature idlis. The down-to-earth combination of rice and urad dal resulting in a sumptuous breakfast, a quintessential dish to start the mornings – idli – was called "boring" by Edward Anderson.
It all started when an Indian food delivery portal threw a simple question on Twitter – "What's that one dish you could never understand why people like so much?"
In response, the UK-based professor of history and expert in India-Britain studies, Edward Anderson, tweeted, "Idli are the most boring things in the world." The next moment, he was being trolled heavily, and amid the hundreds and hundreds of sharp reactions, there were diehard fans of idli and puritans who invited Prof Anderson to visit Brahmins’ and savour the steaming idlis. And that would change his opinion about the dish.
Brahmins’ Coffee Bar, the 55-year old idli joint in south Bengaluru has always been the first stop for idli lovers. While there was a brouhaha over #idligate on social media, Brahmins’ owner Radhakrishna Adiga was not so clued in. "I was just not aware of the controversy as I am not a social media person. One of our regular customers told me about the Twitter war. I felt quite sad to hear that idli was called as boring but at the same time I am proud that it got such huge support. And people talking about Brahmins’ Coffee Bar idlis is such a warm gesture. We have built that relationship with our customers over five decades now," says Adiga proudly.
The 55-year-old Brahmins’ was started in a car garage in Shankarpuram by Adiga’s father Nagesh Rao, for whom selling idlis was the last resort for his survival. He had come to Bengaluru to find a job, and after years of experimenting and failures, he decided to try something that came to him easily – cooking. Coming from Dakshina Kannada where people are said to be born with idli in their genes, Rao’s family started making idli, vada, khara bath, kesri bath and filter coffee and selling them in the tiny garage.
The idlis became an instant hit at 11 paise per piece and the popularity grew. Even now it’s the same menu of 4+1, same location, with an extended space. Brahmins’ has bagged every possible gourmet award for the best idlis and chutney and continues to be the idli king of Bengaluru.
"We have maintained the same quality and taste over the years. In these 55 years, we have had no dull phases. Soon after the pandemic when we opened, our customers just came back. The British professor should visit Brahmins’ and have idlis. He will fall for them," says Adiga.
In January this year, the postal department released a special postal cover to mark the 55 years of Brahmins’ Coffee Bar.
The unexpected backlash and banter made Prof Anderson, who is married to a Keralite, tweet again in an apparent bid to calm the idli fanatics down. "Before the whole of south India attacks me, can I just say that I love dosa and appam and basically all south Indian food. But idli (and puttu for that matter) are insufferable."