‘Food war’ on Twitter after UK-based academic calls South Indian food idli ‘boring’


South Indian dishes Idli, Sambhar, and Chutney  on Banana leaf (Photo: iStock).
South Indian dishes Idli, Sambhar, and Chutney on Banana leaf (Photo: iStock).

UK-based academic Dr Edward Anderson has sparked a ‘food war’ on Twitter by calling South Indian staple food ‘Idli’ boring.



On Tuesday(6) while responding to a tweet by food delivery app Zomato India which asked about ‘one dish you could never understand why people like soo much’ Dr Anderson said: “Idli are the most boring things in the world.”

The idli is a steamed rice cake that is usually eaten with a lentil-based vegetable stew called sambar.

People from across the globe started to respond to it. Indian-origin Ishaan Tharoor, a writer and columnist, was the most critical.



“I think I’ve encountered the most offensive take on Twitter,” he tweeted.

His father, Shashi Tharoor, a senior Indian MP and well-known writer, quickly responded and even suggested a better way to have idli.

Idli lovers on Twitter tried to school Dr Anderson, who teaches at Northumbria University in Newcastle, on the right way to breakfast on idlis, with an array of delicious sides.

Later, Dr Anderson said the debate on idli proves how “food speaks to people’s identity, their regional pride and also resonates with everyone on an emotional level”.

US Democratic vice-presidential nominee Senator Kamala Harris – who has an Indian-born mother and Jamaican-born father – has fondly recalled that her mother was keen to instil in her a “love for good idli” during her holidays in the south Indian city of Chennai (formerly Madras).

Idli has close connection with India politics too. In Salem in southern India, politicians of India’s ruling BJP are serving cheap “‘Modi idlis” – named after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi- to the poor during the pandemic.

This move is seen as an open challenge to the state’s local ruling AIADMK party which offers “amma idlis” – named after the late chief minister, J Jayalalithaa, who was fondly called amma or mother by her supporters.

Responding to all the tweets and trolls Dr Anderson on Friday(9) said that he loves South Indian food, not just idlis.

“Fantastic. My stupid idli comment has now been connected – ever so tenuously – to the US election. For the record: I love Indian food… and especially south Indian food! (Just not idlis),” he wrote on Twitter.