Life & Style

Regional cuisine gets the spotlight as Hyderabad restaurants revisit their menus

Palav and fried chicken inspired from regional flavours of Telangana and AP

Palav and fried chicken inspired from regional flavours of Telangana and AP | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Don’t just ask for wings. Ask for Karimnagar wings fry. And instead of regular chicken malai tikka, go for Gandikota chicken tikka. Restaurants in Hyderabad, especially those with speciality thali menus are innovative, spurred by two years of the pandemic and its many lockdowns.

Many restaurants have revisited their menus, using the time to research regional cuisines and use new recipes to reposition themselves. As a result, a significant number of relatively unknown dishes from the districts of Telangana and Andhra are in the spotlight. Abdul Kareem of Anna Native a restaurant that caters to regional cuisine with a modern presentation says, “Restaurant chefs constantly want to offer newer dishes. With a visible increase in demand for local flavours, it is always exciting to offer dishes that are new to discover, name and taste wise.”

Regional focus

While the tangy Nellore chepala pulusu, kebabs and Hyderabad biryani have always been favourites, they now face stiff competition from dishes named Golconda kodi (chicken) roast, Telangana mamsampulusu (a tangy meat curry), Kurnool fried wings, Kakinada chicken, Palakollu kodi pulao, Gadwal kodi pulao and Bheemavaram kodi pulao. The variation in spice and method of cooking is finding them many takers. 

Ankapur chicken curry, which is increasingly popular, is a spicy chicken gravy curry made over firewood with generous amounts of hand-pounded dry red chillies and a strong garam masala. Made with country chicken, this fiery dish is named after Ankapur village in the Nizamabad district of Telangana. On weekends, hotels in Ankapur that offer this chicken curry have a waiting time of up to 30 minutes. In the city only a few restaurants have it in their menu.

Ravi Teja oversees the biryani preparation method

Ravi Teja oversees the biryani preparation method | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

What’s in a name?

Ravi Raju of Vivaha Bhojanambu, the Telugu thali speciality restaurant explains how flavours within Andhra and Telangana, vary from district to district, depending on the spice levels, masalas and even the dish it is usually prepared in. “For instance, we serve Bhimavaram Kodi Vepudu, which is a dry starter made with a lot of spices. He mentions that this deep-fried chicken dish is different from the usual kodi vepudu curries right from the ingredients used to the way it is prepared.”

In contrast, Karimnagar chicken wings fry and Kurnool fried wings are deep-fried fiery hot starters; both draw inspiration from food carts in their region. Ravi says “Kebabs seemed to have outlived their demand. So getting something new was a priority. My chef and his team come from different regions of Telangana. We also travelled to the different places to try these dishes before putting it on the menu.”

He adds that some names like Ongole chicken fry (inspired by flavours in Ongole, AP) are used to merely raise the curiosity bar. Chennur biryani, Kakinada Reddy palav, Nellore Riyaz palav are served in their respective regions. “These come from eateries that specialise in pulao; some prepared in the Tahari style, some others combine bagara rice with flavoured meat put to dum.”

Reddy palav

Reddy palav | Photo Credit: special arrangement

Rajesh Dave, General manager of Quality Inn at Lakdikapul says, “Dishes from Nalgonda and Mahabubnagar in Telangana are being showcased in new menus. Mahabubnagar food is fiery hot and is not easy for a first-timer. Imagine using a dish that uses 1/4 or more chilli powder and garam masala as the main ingredient But restaurants serve it because some diners enjoy spice levels that bring tears to their eyes,” he says, adding with a smile, “Such dishes can be used for any food challenge!”

Pulao to the forefront

In Hyderabad, Dum biryani will never go out of demand. However, of late, there seems to be a growing number of takers for pulaos from the Godavari belt of Andhra Pradesh, especially from Bhimavaram and Rajahmundry. YouTuber Ravi Teja of Streetbyte (1.05 million followers) who only shoots videos of various regional foods of Telangana and AP says, ”The kodi (chicken) palav vary in the spices used in their preparation; so their flavour and appearance (colour) differ. Satti Babu Biryani in Kukatpally specialises in all Andhra style palavs (not made in dum style). The Fry piece joint palav (a palav with one masala-coated, deep-fried joint of the chicken) there is a particular favourite with non-veg lovers.”

Flavours of of Telangana and AP cuisine

Flavours of of Telangana and AP cuisine | Photo Credit: Sanjay Borra

A discovery of sorts

Author and Telangana food expert Jyothi Valaboju feels there’s more that deserves attention; Telugu cuisine is not completely explored even within the States and has not been discovered by other States. The vast array of preparation methods (dum, open degchi cooking) and utensils (like degchi, clay pot, handi) used to prepare them makes it one of the most unique cuisines, she claims. Jyothi adds, “Telangana cuisine itself is unexplored by restaurants and chefs of Hyderabad. The flavour profiles of the foods from different regions like Karimnagar, Nalgonda would be a hit.”

As a result of which she says a lot of chefs are looking at using local chillies, homemade spice powders and using batter mixes that doesn’t involve corn flour.

Will this divert attention from Hyderabadi dum biryani, pathar ka gosht and double ka meetha? No way, the more the merrier.

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2022 2:36:47 am |