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Monday, Nov 26, 2001

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Lip-smacking Andhra fare

It can be easily overlooked or go unnoticed unless you go looking for it. Talking about decor or ambience is almost redundant here. Hotel Navayuga, Mylapore, is exactly like its address printed on the bill — no frills, just the bare minimum... even the street name, Bishop Wallers Avenue East is missing.

There is a board outside that says non-vegetarian meals hotel and the entire menu too, that is about 20 items including the meals, is listed. I would like to add another line to the board strictly for serious foodies. For, eating is a very serious business here. You eat well and fast, especially if you are in the meals section.

A dietician will have apoplexy counting the calories of assorted fries and a near total absence of fibre. Vegetables, like our heroines in action movies, are merely incidental. For once let us be politically incorrect and have fun. Forget cholesterol overload and dig in.

The standard meal (Rs.35) comes with chicken and fish gravies. Mind you, their function is merely to moisten the rice. So don't expect any pieces. The chicken chilly (Rs.40) looked an angry red, but wasn't a scorcher as feared.

The waiter confided that the colour came from a bottle. Our reddened palms confirmed this. To be fair, despite the colour factor, it was very tasty.

But if you are fussy, there is mutton fry (Rs.35) without any touch up. That was scrumptious too.

Navayuga prawns (Rs.40), another name for fry, were not bad either. They may be inconsequential in the bigger picture, but the veggie dishes do leave a mark. They are part of the thali. The vonkayya pachadi or the brinjal chutney was excellent. It adds the zip, the zing to the bland rice.

My next favourite was the rasam. Though I am not a card holding rasam fan, this garlic-pepper broth was too good to miss.

There were also a dry yam preparation and a kootu. In spite of our luxurious meal with three side orders, the bill came up to only Rs.185 for two. So if you want a budget Andhra meal, think Hotel Navayuga.

Marien Mathew

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