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Bagundi: This Delhi restaurant introduces foodies to cuisines from Telugu States

In keeping with the name: Andhra chicken biryani at Bagundi

In keeping with the name: Andhra chicken biryani at Bagundi  

Andhra food offers more than chillies, especially if you go to Bagundi

A nephew staying with us likes his food hot. Since our home-cooked fare keeps a safe distance from red chillies, we thought we had to do something for the chilly-starved boy. One evening, we decided to take him out for a hot, hot meal — and landed up in a new Andhra food restaurant in town.

I have a great fondness for Andhra food. Many years ago, we had a neighbour called Vijaya who used to make the most delicious Andhra chutneys one could ever imagine. Every little ingredient — from the raw mango to the sesame seeds, coconut, and tomatoes — went into her mortar, and after being introduced to a pestle, came out in the form of a delicious dip.

Then, of course, there was Andhra Bhavan, which gave us many delightful breakfasts and lunches. I still salivate at the thought of the thali there — with sambar, rasam, dal, papad, a heap of rice, a few puris, some dry vegetables on the side, veggies in gravy, a bowl of curd, and a sweet dish. But this is not a place you’d like to visit if you want to eat at leisure.

That is why we went to Bagundi in Connaught Place. If you know the fire brigade near Shankar Market, you will be able to locate Bagundi without a problem. It is on the other side of the road, on the outer circle, in M Block.

The great thing about Bagundi is that it serves non-vegetarian Andhra food. The owners — a young couple (vegetarian, by the way) — started the restaurant some months ago in a bid to acquaint Delhi’s food-lovers with the cuisines of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Their chef, a young man called Navin Rawat, learnt the secrets of Andhra, Telangana, and Rayalseema food when he was working in Hyderabad for the base kitchen of an airline.

The dishes at the restaurant largely follow authentic recipes, but some curries have been tweaked keeping Delhi palates in mind. We asked for the Andhra Special chicken biryani (₹369), which was superb.

The rice was long-grained and fragrant, and the chicken pieces had been cooked just right.

What struck me was the fact that the biryani had been cooked in very little oil. The spices were just right, as was the chilli quotient.

It came with a tangy and nutty saalan, made of sesame seeds, peanuts, coconut, tamarind, curry leaves, and chillies. The Andhra chicken curry (₹379), as you’d expect, was red to look at, and red to taste. It came in a delicious curry of tomatoes cooked in blended spices, and the tender chicken had soaked in all the heady flavours. We also had a plate of Andhra prawn fry (₹549), a dish of juicy prawns wrapped in a strong mélange of spices.

We ate this with some plain rice (₹149) and a naan (₹59). We also tried out two of their chutneys — one prepared with sesame seeds, and the other with shredded cabbage. The chutneys reminded me of our neighbour.

Then, instead of dessert, we finished our meal with a delicious glass of aam panna. It was a cold, mildly sweet-tart drink of green mangoes, flavoured with mint.I am told the place is quite popular with young people from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, who are studying and working in New Delhi. But, like us, many diners there were not from the south. “What does Bagundi mean,” I asked the helpful manager. “It means ‘good’,” he said. “Bagundi place, bagundi food,” I replied.

The writer is a seasoned food critic

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 11:49:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/hot-stepper/article27081574.ece

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