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Babai’s new address

Meals served in a banana leaf at Babai Bhojanam

Meals served in a banana leaf at Babai Bhojanam   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

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The traditional banana leaf-serving Babai Bhojanam restaurant opens its second branch on Mandalay Lane at Prenderghast Road

Simple and traditional is the first thought that comes to mind as you enter the newly-opened Babai Bhojanam restaurant on Mandalay Lane at Prenderghast Road. An artfully done gummam, a row of buttalu with spices and walls adorned with muggulu lends charm to the ambience. This is restaurant’s second branch; It has been two years since this traditional banana meal serving restaurant first opened in Punjagutta near the Metro Station. Interestingly both the branches are located in busy areas and Venugopal Bulusu, the restaurant’s founder shares it is an informed choice. “We want to be on busy streets as our quick meals suit floating crowd. Travellers and office-goers cannot take much time for a leisurely lunch but love to eat a meal in traditional setting,” he shares. Interestingly Babai... is the only restaurant in this street serving non-vegetarian south Indian delicacies. “We don’t choose the place; The place chooses us.”

Green chillies halwa

Green chillies halwa   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

The traditional meal more or less has the same varieties offered at the Punjagutta branch, it is the ambience that has changed. Look around and every corner of the restaurant exudes colour and pattern. Luxurious chairs, vintage German lamp, rectangular pieces of silk fabric framed as wall hanging, antique door handles, a brass walking stick and paintings by artist Kanth Risa depicting south Indian culture fill up the walls. “I don’t want any empty wall as I feel they look dull and do not give positive energy. Even on pillars, I got a muggu done; I like my walls to look busy and colourful,” smiles Venugopal.

With soft instrumental music playing in the background, we sit down to savour the south Indian lunch. For those who do not wish to have a full-course meal, starters (vegetarian and non-vegetarian), pulaos and desserts can also be ordered as add-ons.

Mirchi bajji

Mirchi bajji   | Photo Credit: KVS Giri

A fiery miriyala rasam gets us started off. Accompanied with crunchy vadiyalu, the tangy pepper rasam is just right for the season. I try nuvvula paneer pullalu with a sweet-sour dip while my colleague enjoys ulli karam royyalu and karvepaku kodi vepudu for starters. The paneer starter is bland but the zesty dip adds tangy flavour.

Our banana leaves arrive and Venu informs they source them from Tanuku in Amalapuram. “Many people love to have food on a banana leaf as it has many medicinal values too,” he shares. The meal has varieties that we enjoy eating at home with hot rice and a spoonful of ghee — Gongura pappu, dondakaaya koora, sambar, beerakaya pachchadi, menthi majjiga and chaaru. There is also avakaaya and kandipodi for pickle lovers.

For those with a big appetite, unlimited rice and main course is served. Semiya payasam is served along with the meal but if you are in mood for more sweets, there is dry fruit pootharekulu, kobbari payasam and palathalikelu. The best, however is the pachimirchi halwa (Yes you read it right). Take a bite and you are sure to be bowled over by its sweet lingering taste.

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 7:30:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/babai-bhojanam-gongura-pappu-dondakaaya-koora-sambar-beerakaya-pachchadi-menthi-majjiga-chaaru/article29785791.ece

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