Good, Batter, Best! Celebrating World Idli Day with Shastha Foods

RJ Sudha is founder and anchor or Tamizh Suvai Radio

By RJ Sudha–

March 30 was World Idli Day, and what better way to observe it than a get-together to celebrate the south Indian staple delicacy, along with Dosas. Shastha Foods, whose batters have been responsible for an estimated 160 million (and counting, with a vision of a billion by 2030) Dosas and Idlis made all through the US homes and restaurants, commemorated its 20th anniversary on the same day.

Folks have silently tucked away their wet grinders into their garage as Shastha Foods has seemingly mastered the proportions, preservation techniques and cost-effectiveness of these healthy, naturally gluten-free and millet-alternatives.

The nationwide distribution chain — built meticulously by founder Subramanian Krishnan (in picture above) from humble beginnings — is now a gigantic multimillion dollar business.

(Left) Chief guests Dr Pal and Manickam Madhampatty Rangaraj at the Shastha Idli Fest 2025 in Milpitas, California

As one attendee said, “The food reminds us how our mothers or grandmothers had mentioned to us that this was our first solid meal. The fluffiness and the purity reminds us of a child’s innocence, how it was such an integral part of a family brunch gatherings and how seamlessly it blended with a plethora of chutneys, podis and sambars.”

According to Syamala Raghuram, the planning and the prep work for the Shastha Idli Fest ’24 began several months ahead, with she spearheading most of the operations and coordinating amongst various groups of volunteers and supply/chain scenarios.

“Contributors had to be signed up, several types of menus had to be drawn, online pre-booking site had to be up and running, based of which, batter quantity had to be estimated, the seating style at the venue (India Community Center, Milpitas) had to be drawn, quantity of fresh batter to be prepared had to be shipped to the venue along with the side dishes, booths for each type of Idli offerings had to be set up, a core group of volunteers had to be identified who were willing to run around on the “D-Day” like the bride’s side of a wedding party.”

The event planners went beyond the regular white Idlis. In addition, they also went above and beyond their offerings with Kanchipuram, Thatte, Curry Leaf, Rava, Green Moong, Ragi, Pearl Millet, and even ‘Gen Z’ Idlis such as Mini Idlies, Idli Burger, Idli Manchurian. Then, there were the Dosas — Regular and Podi.

Describing his early experiments, Krishnan, who has a Masters’ Degree in Accounting, recalled how he saw a market potential in readymade Idli/Dosa batter in working Indian households in early 2002. He dived into this opportunity and from then on, there has been no looking back.

He said Shastha Foods could be way ahead in its target of reaching a billion batters by 2030!

The team behind Shastha Idli Fest 2024 poses for a photo with the chief guests

Being a proponent of women’s empowerment, they recently spun off ‘Shastha Fresh’, whose vision is to “deliver healthy and tasty Indian Food and Indian groceries to every neighborhood.” This unit is headed by Syamala Raghuram and this wing has employed several female employees to work at the flexibility of their homes or from Ghost Kitchens.

Two celebrity guests added color and character to the event. Dr Pal Manickam, a gut health specialist and Instagram celebrity, described the importance of fermented food in our diet and the difference between good gut bacteria and bad gut bacteria.

Emphasizing the benefits of this fermented food — Idli — that enhances the number of good gut bacteria, he warned the listeners on portion control. He stressed the importance of having 0.8 gm of protein per kilogram (ages 12 and above) of our body weight per day, strengthening the brain/gut connection, respecting our gut by not using it as a dump ground of processed food, not subjecting ourselves to stress and leading an active life.

Madhampatty Rangaraj, CEO, Madhampatty Thangavelu Hospitality Pvt Ltd, was the next celebrity guest. Rangaraj runs a multi-crore catering business in India, focusing on high-profile weddings, acting/directing movies and is also seated as a judge in one of the popular cooking shows in India. His recently opened “@Kovai Café” restaurant in the Bay Area, has received excellent reviews.

Other guests included Sunnyvale Mayor Larry Klein, Sunnyvale Vice Mayor Murali Srinivasan, Fremont Vice Mayor Teresa Cox, Santa Clara school district board member Tara Sreekrishnan and Federation of Indo-Americans of Northern California Chairman, Dr. Romesh Japra.

RJ Sudha, the founder of Tamizh Suvai Radio, celebrated World Idli Day by calling for entries of creative Idli ideas. There was a deluge of participants over the years and Shastha Foods sponsored generous prizes for the winners.

At the Shastha Idli Fest ’24, three winners from last year — Priya Rajaram, Savita Siva and Asha Ambikavijaykumar displayed an array of vibrant, healthy and kid-friendly Idlis.

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