It is an innovation that is bound to please Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a self-confessed lover of the typical Chennai breakfast of idli-sambar. What would make the PM more happy is that this is entirely a Made in India product. In more specific terms, Make in Hyderabad.
Initially, idli was not on the menu for Entrepreneur Ayyappa Nagubandi and his doctor wife Mahalakshmi Nagubandi. They first built the prototype of a vending machine that dispensed pani puri. But then they decided to ramp up and focus on idli that is a more wholesome and healthy snack.
“It took us about 18 months to put this together. The idea was to provide hygienic and healthy food. Everything that has gone into this machine, to the last screw, has been purchased in Hyderabad,” says Ayyappa of Possibillion Technologies.
How does it work? (See Video Below)
Once you punch in your order on the touch screen displayed on the machine and scan the QR code with your smartphone, it will prompt you to make a digital payment of Rs 35 for two idlis. As soon as the payment is registered, a robotic arm lifts the biodegradable plate (hence environment-friendly) and places it on the conveyor belt where two hot, soft, fluffy and fresh idlis are served in two minutes. A little ahead, sambar and peanut chutney and a spoon are also added to the plate.
At this point in time, 160 plates can be loaded on the machine. A central kitchen prepares the idlis and transports it to where the machine is located. The fresh idlis are loaded once the machine gives an alert that it is now 90 per cent empty. Sambar and chutney are put in powder form and are mixed with hot water and dispensed.
“We are working on an innovation where we can place a cooker inside the machine. That will mean we just have to load batter powder. It will reduce the cost of engaging cooks to prepare the idlis and also the logistics company that needs to be hired to transport the idlis at short notice,” says Ayyappa (pic above)
The machine has cost the 15-member team of innovators Rs 80 lakh to develop and build. They do not intend to sell it in the market but develop it as a franchisee model. Over 30 software companies have evinced interest in getting them to instal the idli machine on their premises so far.