Wafer-thin layers of rice sheets are generously stuffed with dry fruits and folded into neat rectangles in the Andhra sweet Pootharekulu (which in Telugu means coated sheets). The final product is carefully placed in a box containing a variety of sweet treats. And It takes just one bite of this delicacy to realise it tastes very different from the usual jaggery-based south Indian sweets.
With its crisp, ghee-drizzled outer layer, fine rice sheets and the aromatic stuffing of dry fruits along with coarsely crushed sugar that melts in your mouth, a bite of Pootharekulu leaves you wanting more. While the sweet originates from the rice-producing regions in Andhra's East and West Godavari, Pootharekulu is a bestseller at Chennaiâs Amaravathi Andhra Home Foods this festive season.
This is just one of the many new sweet treats available in the city. If you want to indulge in new delicacies along with traditional sweets this Deepavali, here are some Chennai-based food brands to check out.
Amaravathi Andhra Home Foods
Although Amaravathi is known for its spicy and authentic Andhra meals, the sweets too have gained popularity among customers. The jaggery-based Ariselu; the sweet flatbread Bobbatlu; and Gavvalu or sweet shells thatâs made out from maida are popular delicacies from the Telugu-speaking states.
Amaravathi was started by Vijay Kumar Reddy in 1980, his father had started Savera Hotel in the city. â Since we hail from Andhra and there werenât any other brands that served authentic Andhra food, my husband (Vijay Kumar Reddy) decided to venture into this space,â Nina Reddy, the Joint Managing Director of Savera Hotel and Amaravathi tells TNM. âAfter we bagan the restaurants, we then started selling sweets, savouries, pickles and podis from back home since they serve as comfort food for many,â she adds.
She points out that all of Amaravathiâs sweets are handmade, predominantly by women in Andhra. Explaining how it is quite difficult to prepare some of these special treats, Nina illustrates how Pootharekulu is made. After soaking rice for a few hours, it is ground into a thin, watery batter. A fine cloth is dipped in the batter, swiftly and artfully smeared on an inverted earthen pot set to heat. The rice layer is removed after it attains its wafer-like consistency. The second phase of preparation involves the application of ghee, sugar and other items like dry fruits or jaggery as a part of the stuffing. âWe believe in sticking to a few items and ensuring that quality is not compromised on. The shelf-life of sweets is limited and hence the wastage will be high,â Nina Reddy adds.
In the Amaravathi outlet, there are colourful gift hampers, neatly arranged in rows, for the festive season. âWe have used old-fashioned baskets which can be reused. The baskets are priced between Rs 1,000- 1,250 and includes a range of sweets and savouries,â Nina says.
Amaravathi has physical outlets on ECR and in Gopalapuram. Online delivery is available through Zomato, while courier orders can also be booked through their website.
Source: Amaravathi Andhra Home Foods
Located in Vadapalani, Mithai Mandir, which was founded in 2002, specialises in Kaju and milk-based sweets. Made out of pure ghee, delicacies such as Milk Peda, Kalakand, Gulab Roll, Moti Pak and Laddu are bestsellers. âThe taste is authentic since my father Deepak, who is from Gujarat, learnt to make sweets from his uncle there,â says Rahul, who works full-time at Mithai Mandir.
âWhen he started this restaurant and later added sweets to the menu, he hired chefs from north India to make them and also passed on some of the recipes he learnt,â he says. He also adds that savouries like Papdi Gatiya and mixtures are some of their savoury specialities and customers from all over the city come to stock up.
This festive season, Mithai Mandir is offering a range of Deepavali gift boxes that are priced based on the quantity being bought. Some of the combos only include sweets, while others consist of salted cashews and badams, as well as savouries, since it is customary to exchange both sweets and snack items during the festival of lights. The gift boxes are priced between Rs 325 and Rs 1,000, depending upon the selected items and quantity. Mithai Mandirâs products can be ordered online via Swiggy.
Source: Mithai Mandir
Osh El Bulbul, a sweet depicting a miniature bulbul nest made out of crunchy, golden vermicelli wires, with pistachios standing in for eggs. Dry Fruit Kunafa, a layered delicacy made with vermicelli, nuts, with a generous filling of cream, milk and cheese, and oozing with a syrup made of lemon, sugar and rose water. And Baklava, consisting of crispy filo sheets, nuts and honey-based syrup. These are all part of the exquisite range of Arabic sweets sold by Indiska Magic.
Located in Chetpet, Indiska Magic has also introduced Deepavali gift packages like âDry fruit fantasyâ, âNutty delightâ and âMagestic Indianâ (which includes cashew-based sweets) at different price ranges for the festive season.
Indiska Magic was founded by Bharat Bhandari, who is also the co-owner of Nuts N Spices. The restaurant was launched five years ago and specialised in paneer-based dishes. âWe started with nuts and dry fruits-based sweets like Badam Katli and Kaju Katli since the resources were available through Nuts N Spices,â says R William, the general manager of Indiska Magic.
Soon after Indiska Magic started making Arabic sweets. âThere wasnât anything similar available in the city, and the main chef who runs the kitchen is from Egypt and he knows how to make these delicacies,â he adds. Making the hand-crafted sweets is a time-consuming process, but the taste is worth it, according to William.
Beautifully arranged in elegant boxes, the Deepavali packages are lined up at Indiska Magic to be sent to customers across Chennai. With numerous customers walking in throughout the day, even sweets at the live counter such as flower-shaped Kaju Katli and delicacies covered in chocolate are getting sold in a jiffy, says William.
Source: Instagram/indiska magic