The quintessential Idli – a mathematical wonder!

A quick stroll in the early mornings, on the roads of various cities of Tamilnadu, can give you a wonderful sight of the paradigmatic idli under mass production in the road side Tiffin centres. The white steam emanating out of the ellipsoidical fermented dough of de-husked black lentils which are steamed in the shallow parabolic molds, serves as the staple tiffin the southern parts of ‘United States of India’.

The wolfram mathematics community proudly affirms the universal fact that idli and ellipsoid has fundamental Cartesian relationship with each other than any other shapes in the world of mathematics. The morning hunger can never be satisfied by any other shapes like stuffed semi spheres (Burgers) or even cylinders (Kola Puttu, No offence meant as we already have water issues with them!) which can have adverse effects on our bowel systems. The magnanimity of such oral daintiness is its cheap and easy availability and you never need a management graduate from IIM A or even a B, to come up with JIT management systems or Lean manufacturing techniques. An over-production in the idli, never ends up as a waste. It can always be re-engineered and value added to invent a new item called ‘Idli Uppuma’ or it can also be cut into pieces and can be sautéed to be christened as ‘Fried Idlis’ which can be served with same set of condiments.

The idli symbolizes simplicity and adaptability. Anyone can consume it irrespective of caste, creed, religion, height, mass, appearance or any other field available in the government application form. A new born who is yet to intake any solid foods can be prescribed an idli with concoctioned ghee and sugar crystals, and this is also a natural phenomena occurring in the balconies and terraces, with the children clinging in the hips of their mothers. The idli also adapts itself to environmental and geographical changes. When there is a change in the surrounding temperature, the idli hardens itself protecting its opaque inner encapsulations, keeping it still consumable and edible. The hardened idlis can be consumed after appropriately suspending it in the colloidal Sambhar solutions which loses its colloidal nature at times due to weak economic condition of the shop owners and with a creamy paste of colourful Chatni-s whose chromatic spectral range spans to white, orange and green only. These catalysts help us to intake the idli without much any struggle.

They may vary in its size and shape in different shops of different parts of the state. The ideal geometrical shape consist of thick surface which can measure an average value of 2.54345 centimetres in a scale of Vernier Callipers towards the centre and it tapers slowly as we move out towards its ends. The sharpness at its taper ends is always proportional to the time taken to steam the idlis and the duration of the fermentation process before the steaming. Time always plays a crucial role in its structural and oral properties. Some idlis appear deformed and may lack variable thickness. This is mainly attributed to the cooking tools that these Tiffin centres and households use. Idlis manufactured at home appears healthy in shape and sticks to oblate spheroid properties whereas idlis from road side shops seems to be very less in its vertical axial thickness.

Talking about condiments, idli adheres to the Cartesian co-ordinate systems in the field of graphical mathematics. If you look into the equation defining the idli, which is a scalene ellipsoid

The equatorial radii a and b denotes the Sambhar & Chatni where as the polar radius c denotes yet another micro colloidal mixture called Molaga Podi. As the Sambhars and Chatnis mixes well with its atomic spatial compartments, they form the equatorial symbolic representation of x and y axis. Whereas, the Molaga Podi which monopolises the condimental behaviour which can either be exclusively solutioned with either one of them, represents the z-axis.

Idli’s have been in existence even outside our planet. The shape has put many philosophers and scientist in awe. If you look at the UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects), most of them resemble the quintessential idli. It’s a master piece in itself. The heavenly bodies comprising the solar systems and stars resemble idli. Moon for example is almost the exact replica of idli. Its color and two dimensional projections quantify its collegiality with the Idlis. The surface of moon is believed to have craters created by the meteorites and also because of its constituents. If you notice Idli, they too have minute pores and craters formed due to improper ejection out of the metal molds. In order to prevent surface damage, ghee or oil is applied in the inner hollow surface, in order to provide less surface tension to the fermented batter. Care has been taken from the time of its inception to prevent such damages by using cloth pieces over which the Idlis are steamed. Deformed Idlis are a taboo these days and manufacturing such perfect Idlis explicates the pride and dignity of housewives and hotel owners.

The consumption of Idlis is sighted to follow the Fibonacci series under extreme hunger by eminent mathematicians. Consider the Fibonacci series below (for the unknowns!)

0 – 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 5 – 8……

You start with zero Idlis in the plate. When the Idlis are ejected out from the mold plates, due to its high temperature due to steaming, you start with 1 Idli straight from the kitchen standing beside mom and then dipping it in the Chatni which are usually not so hot compared to Sambhars. The Idli dissipates heat and the Chatni acts as a heat sink flamboyantly following all the laws of thermodynamics, and you promptly slide half the ellipsoidical structure into your mouth which then suffers impartial grinding in the molars, which then travels down the oesophagus right down to your intestines. By the time, the first Idli completely loses its particle constituents, a second one lands in your plate right in the middle of the Chatni puddle formed in the center of the plate. Now having consumed one Idli already, your hunger cells starts its fission reaction thereby multiplying your hunger exponentially. So you ask for 2 more Idlis which can be consumed in peace sitting in the sofa and watching the ‘Top 10 Movies’ in Sun TV on a Sunday morning! Moms are always caring and affectionate. They bring the Idli bowl right infront of you and ask for a further service of Idlis. Sons are also affectionate these days. They ask for 3 more Idli’s so that their moms need not traverse across Kitchen to Hall just for Idli disseminations. So the numbers have grown from 0, 1, 1, 2 and 3…This trend changes for grown ups and it scales further up in the Fibonacci scale.

Like Pizzas and Burgers, Idlis have become the epitome of independent retail goods. In the lines of Pizza Hut, Pizza Corner & Dominos, we now have ‘Murugan Idli Shop’ which is now available in the city’s leading outlets and prominent places and malls. Idlis are now never a stereotyped south Indian dish. They are now the style statements among the modern Indian chicks and dudes who preferred Pastas and Macaronis. Idlis have evolved from its ancient form to contemporary customised version. All the leading caterers are customizing it for the sake of national level customers. Even few customers from media are enhancing it themselves for the sake of their media marketability. For instance, our ‘Chiyan’ Vikram altered it to ‘Beer Idli’ in the Tamil movie ‘Saamy’ by suspending them in the beer and then mashing it well before consuming.

There are few idli haters too. They prefer Dosa over Idli due to its crunchy and slurpy nature when served with Sambhar & Chatni. Little do they know that, Idlis as hygienic, healthy and safe dish. They never lead you to any problems in the posterior or anterior end of you. Hardened Idlis are sometimes used as a weapon against husbands by wives and siblings against themselves. It is used as a grenade and when it is launched on a person’s forehead, causes severe injuries, physically and mentally. Dosas on the other end have many enhancements in which, the extra add-ons gain superiority over the Dosa itself. Moreover the masala which is secretly stuffed inside the Masala Dosa can lead to supersonic ‘Gaseous’ disturbance in the surroundings which are injurious to the olfactory senses of fellow human beings.

As said before, Idlis have a triaxial three dimensional quadratic surface and hence the position of Idli can be represented not only in Cartesian but also in spherical and parametric equations too. Hence Idli is represented in multiple forms. The normal representation is the white spongy Idli whereas other forms include Rava Idli, Stuffed Idli, Semia Idli, Oats Idli and idlis which can take possibly any other forms that we would like to have it.

Idlis are odourless and tasteless like water. They are worth consuming with the Sambhars, Chutnys and Molaga Podis only. Eating Idli with Sugar and ghee is considered to be childish. People who are down with fever are prescribed Idli by doctors. Idlis are never adultered, smuggled or even housebroken. FBI agents never question people who carry loads of idlis in and out of the country.

Next time someone eats idli in the cafeteria or in food courts, never ridicule the person. He is one of the highly health conscious, intellectual and safe to approach humans, who will only complain if the viscosity of Sambhar or Chatni deviates from its acceptable mean values!

Long live Idli eaters!

Image Source: Internet

14 thoughts on “The quintessential Idli – a mathematical wonder!

  1. Nice explanation ! well, did these equations of idli are derived by you ??..if yes, you are crowned as Idli Man ;). I really did like your write up on idli

  2. Hahaha…I had super fun reading this! Although I prefer dosa over idli, your explanation and the scientific principles involved make the idli sound so much more fascinating and interesting. Amazing concept! I never thought our food items could be linked to maths. Wow!

  3. rofl….this one was tooo good Kally….
    you sound like Dr. Sheldon Cooper here ;-))
    and reading this post makes me crave for a idli…..*sigh*

  4. Omg Kally never knew…Idly can be presented this way…!!! Me started to love idly now…!!!!

  5. Being an Idli lover and despite being a WIMWIAN, it took a great deal of toing and froing before I could make sense but, I doff my topi to you for this very entertaining post.

  6. Wow! Started reading with curiosity, then with smiles and eventually real laughter. Though parabolic equations were in my mind but nothing to beat your Scalene Ellipsoid equation summing up to 1 and similarities between UFO, Moon and idli. Loved reading and sharing with my “data Analytics “ fanatic friends. Love thy Idli.

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