Think red hot chillies, think spicy fumes oozing out of your ears, think Andhra and Telangana cuisine. Yes, we are talking of the hottest cuisine of India. These two states cover an expanse of cuisines, as there is something special and specific to the areas they gain their influence from.
While coastal Andhra offers prolific seafood, the north-eastern areas are happy with the use of jaggery to impart a sweet tinge to food. On the other hand, the southern stretch of Rayalaseema has influences of both Andhra and Karnataka, thereby offering a variety of rice and roti preparations, while that of Hyderabad sees a distinct Mughlai influence. Be it the royal cuisine of the Nizams, the famed Hyderabadi biryani or the popular bhuna gosht, the cuisine in these two southern states is bound to tantalize your taste buds.
While the locals have endless varieties of meaty eats prepared in unique styles, letâ€™s talk about the top five that an outsider must try on their first visit here.
This fancy-sounding curry is made of lamb infused with spices. It claims generous use of dry chillies or green chillies. Best had with chapatti or rice, the dish stays true to its name in the usage of gongura leaves in its preparation.
Gongura leaves are sorrel leaves that are rather sour in nature and have a tangy element to them. These edible leaves add zing to the lamb curry. Best had with rice, the dish is garnished with fried chillies as well.
The delectable delight makes use of the usual cardamom and cinnamon powder, besides onions, garlic and coriander leaves forming the perfect concoction of a great recipe to remember.
Gongura Mamsam. Courtesy: Sailu's Food.
Bongulo Chicken or Chicken in Bamboo is one of the most aromatic forms of chicken. It is found in Araku Valley (hill station) in the Eastern Ghats, Vishakhapatnam and Papikondalu.
The tribal dish is unique in its style of preparation. It involves the use of bamboo sticks. Bamboo shoots are cut into manageable lengths. Marinating the chicken is key to its preparation. The marinade comprising of chicken coated with ginger garlic paste, local herbs and spices is stuffed into bamboo shoots. These pipe-like bamboo sticks are then covered with lotus leaves on either side. Simultaneously coal is set to heat and when ready, the chicken in the bamboo is roasted on it.
The unique proposition of the dish is that it makes use of very little oil. The chicken cooks in its own fat while lying there in the bamboo, preserving its aroma and texture of the spices.
Bongulo chicken attracts a lot of tourists every year. Once cooked, all that you have to do is to take it out of the shoot onto a leaf, squeeze some lime and you have it ready to consume.
Bamboo Chicken. Courtesy: Prasad Np/desi traveler
Guntur Chicken Fry
You can go teary-eyed with this fiery delight of Andhra Pradesh. This dish derives its name from the Guntur chillies that are used in its preparation, specifically the Guntur Sannam-S4. These chillies are native to the district of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh and are found with varying levels of capsaicin.
With lots of curry leaves and of course, a generous spoon of chilli powder versus a pinch of chillies, you find a balanced blend of ingredients in this gourmet delicacy. When you think of Guntur chicken, you ought to know it comprises of lots and lots of dry Guntur chillies.
You must wonder what is the best way of having this chicken? Have it as a snack or use it as a side-dish with absolutely any vegetarian or non-vegetarian gravy preparation.
Chepa Pulusu â€“ Telangana style
To make it easy to comprehend, letâ€™s call it tamarind fish curry by translating it literally. This heavily marinated fish curry makes use of the protein-intense carp fish or rohu.
If your paletteâ€™s craving for a tangy twang, then this fish curry is meant for you, thanks to the presence of tamarind and tomatoes in the gravy. Believed to have originated in Telangana and Rayalaseema, the main dish is eaten most commonly with rice or ragi mudda (finger millet ball).
Remember that no preparation is complete without the use of green chillies. Additionally, fenugreek seeds and the usual powders like cumin, turmeric, chilli and coriander impart a distinct aroma to the dish. No doubt, this finger-licking fish curry is delicious to the last drop.
Many people like to cook it fresh, but consume it the next day. To add some twist to the taste, many of them prepare it in sesame seed oil.
Natukodi Pulusu or Country Chicken in simple terms is a delicacy of Andhra Pradesh you will never forget, offering the perfect play of flavours and spices.
The chicken is cut into smaller pieces and slit for the spices to seep in. It is then mixed with essential powders and spices. The recipe still follows the traditional style of grinding the whole spices in a mortar to form a coarse powdery mix. This chicken curry derives its name from the words natu kodi meaning village chicken.
Does the recipe include coconut? Yes, how could it not? Dry coconut is scraped and grated and added to the gravy for the coarse texture.
While some locals just love their country style meal with ragi mudde, others like it with rice. Variations include the addition of coconut milk instead of the dry, roasted coconut gratings.
Screenshot: Youtube/Telugu Recipes 4 All
A cuisine that leaves you floored
The cuisine of Andhra and Telangana sees strong influences from the Mughal era as well as its neighbouring states. If you want to enjoy the recipes the traditional Andhra way, you ought to eat it the right way â€“ by setting low tables called chowki and sitting on seats made of wood or simply placing mats on the floor. Better yet, spread the food on a fresh banana leaf and savour the rich and aromatic traditional meal.
Have these five first, rave about it, and plan for the next five on your second trip here!