Recently, Centre Right India celebrated their 3rd anniversary by hosting a "food blogging festival". Along with Kiran and Sangeetha, I presented to them a full meals from Andhra Pradesh. Pasting it below for reference :). I strongly recommend that you read the other cuisines on that site too (though no one did it in as much detail as we did!) - it's mind-blowing :)
Food, like knowledge, is an ocean! And without second thoughts, we are sure that in this category, the
Indian Ocean will be thse
largest in the world! It's not just about the size but the passion this ocean evokes! It's about the
culture and history that this ocean has witnessed. Don’t worry, we are not
digressing into history and politics :)
We’ve seen food lovers write about important items from various cuisines all this week. Every item had a rejoinder though - "the cuisine is vast, and cannot be restricted to this one item". We totally agree - to restrict a cuisine to one or two items is very difficult. And hence, we have decided to offer the readers a full plate of Andhra meals! We’ll discuss with you folks what we eat from breakfast to dinner; give you options to choose from; and lastly, make sure you end up craving for our food once you finish reading this!
Fellow blogger Ratnakar has already mentioned about a few items, making life easier for us J
Before proceeding to the main menu, here's a focus point that has always fascinated us - Combinations! It’s always fascinating to understand the minds of the genuises who invented such combinations. For example:
1. Who was the genius who figured out that plain dal + ghee with steaming hot rice is the pathway to culinary heaven?
2. How did someone figure out that you can mix minnapappu (Urad Dal) with biyyam (raw rice), grind it, and make lip-smacking dosas?
3. How did the genius know that if you grind some items together, a masala is made, which when cooked with meat will make you fall in love with it?
Such innovations are what define our culinary culture! So in this blog, we will not only talk about the various items that we eat, but also suggest the best combinations to have them in! Without further ado, let's get started!
There are three sub categories in this:
1. Actual breakfast item
2. Accompanying chutney
3. The apt combination!
Some dishes are generic across
South India and some
are specific to Andhra, like the Pesarattu Upma detailed below!
Actual Breakfast items:
Idli – most common breakfast in many households . The batter is usually prepared the previous night to allow it to settle. Idlis can be made in various shapes – round and square!
Dosa – the sound of water sprinkled onto the pan is legendary! You feel hungry the moment you hear that – it means the tiffin is getting ready! Unlike Idli, this batter can be prepared in the morning itself. Preparing the batter the previous night would result in the lip-smacking “pullattu” – mostly savoured in AP only!
Pesarattu – A variant of dosa – just that this is made with a batter made of “pesara pappu (green gram)” , onions, ginger, chilli etc.
Upma – Another regular breakfast at many households – perhaps because of the ease with which it can be made. Typically made with “bombay ravva a.k.a sooji”, or “godhuma nooka (wheatlets)” or with “biyyam ravva (rice flour)”.
Gaarelu/Vada – this is the single most innovative design of a sheer genius. What else can he/she be called who came up with the idea to slowly spread the batter, make a hole in the middle and deep fry it in oil? This tiffin is generally made during festive occasions and not a regular (because of the oil that is needed for it!)
Poori – nothing much to talk about this; self-explanatory :D. In school, we had a staple question in many quizzes – why does the poori puff? By the way, how on earth did the genius know that you can make both chapatis and pooris from the same flour?!
Putnala pappu chutney
All of them will have a tinge of tamarind and chilly in them. It is almost mandatory that a chutney has to accompany the main breakfast! Now, let’s get to the combinations!
1. Idli goes well with all chutneys, but here’s the expert tip. Instead of making a semi solid groundnut chutney, make it a liquid one. Pour that chutney on your idli, mix it like you mix rice and savour it! Groundnut chutney suits the best for this fun!
2. Pesarattu and Upma (made from sooji) is a god-send combination! This means that you end up making two items on the same day, but trust us, it’s worth it! Ratnakar explains it more in detail here. Allam chutney is a superb combo to go with it!
3. Dosa goes well with all chutneys but tastes better with coconut and ginger.
4. Gaarelu/vada go very well with coconut chutney!
In many households, dinner on Saturday evening is a breakfast item. “Dibba rotti” (fat roti) is made with Idli batter. A lot of batter is put into a deep pan and slow-cooked.
Farmers also prefer having just Rice with starch – mainly because of its richness.
After such a heavy breakfast, it’s time to nap a bit and get ready for lunch! We love to have a full course meal that satisfies every single taste bud. So, here goes the list!
Following are 8 courses, out of which we typically have at least 3-4 courses everyday!
1. Start with pickles or powders
2. One fry item
3. One curry with gravy
4. Dal (with tomato or green leafy vegetables )
5. Flavoured rices (flavoured rices are not made everyday, but since they are special, we are mentioning them here) or White Rice
8. Appadam (papad), odiyalu, majjiga mirapakayalu (to accompany curd rice J).
Pickles and powders
We’re fanatics when it comes to pickles and powders! I think more than the famed biryani, this is what defines our cuisine best!
Pickles are of two types:
1. Long-term pickles (nilva pachhadlu)
2. Short-term pickles
Long term pickles are those that are edible even 6 months after they are prepared:
1. Mango (avakaya) – mother of all pickles!
4. Prawns (mmmmmm – mother of non-veg pickles) etc
Short term pickles are made instantly, in small quantities and can be devoured instantly ;).
1. Gongura Pachadi –Affectionately referred to as the Pedda Aadapaduchu (the eldest daughter) of Telugus in our home! No Telugu meal is complete without a jar of Gongura pachadi on the dining table. It’s as healthy as it is tasty. Rich in Iron and anti- oxidants, this is an item that has married itself into the lifestyles of our people. Nearly every telugu person is certain to have a bottle of this pickle somewhere in his/her room ( well hidden, of course)
2. Vankaya (Brinjal) pachadi- This chutney of brinjal is slightly similar to the North Indian “Baingan ka bhartha” but has more spices and isn’t cooked for a second time after the oil soaked brinjals are slow roasted on an open fire. The abundance of onion and green chillies establishes its place among the flagship items of Telugu vegetarian cuisine
3. Beerakaya (Ridge Gourd) Pachadi: Did you know that you can make a yummy chutney out of ridge gourd skin? This is something only a Telugu grandmother can think of. While the gourd, cut into small cubes is sautéing happily as part of a dal ensemble, the outer “chilka” is mashed and ground into a chutney and served with a strong urad-chana-red-chilly tempering. Waste no part of the vegetable is the motto of the gult kitchen.
We have long-term pickles stored at home, so the short term pickles are not made on a daily basis. But when made, they stand out!
There are numerous varieties in this humble category too, with some varieties more popular than the others:
1. Pappula podi – made with roasted chickpeas (putnaalu/daliya). A simple preparation with roasted chickpeas, chilli powder, salt, jeera and garlic ground to a fine powder. Tastes heavenly when had with steaming hot rice mixed with a dollop of ghee.
2. Dhaniyala podi – this is the godsend gift when your tastebuds are dead because of cold or fever and you don’t feel like eating anything. The tamarind + dhaniya flavour brings your tastebuds alive and makes you feel hungry for more. It goes well with hot idlis too.
3. Karivepaku podi – preparation is very similar to dhaniyala podi, but has curry leaves (yeah, baby! You read it right) as the main ingredient. Even the staunchest of curry-leaf haters can’t help but appreciate its taste when made with the right ingredients in right proportions.
4. A lot of green leafy vegetables are dried and ground to powder with tamarind, cumin seeds, chilli powder and salt (some people prefer to add jaggery/sugar for that sweet+tangy taste). These are healthy as there are no fried ingredients, just dried leaves and rest are all fresh ingredients. But they stay fresh for a long time and can be had with hot rice or any snacks/tiffins anytime.
These podulu/powders can be mixed with oil (yes, plain simple cooking oil) or ghee to give it a different taste while having with rice or idli.
We now move to flavoured rice
1. Pulihora (Tamarind Rice, but more funnily called Tiger Food because Puli=tiger!) – this is the mother of flavoured rices and the right taste can be enjoyed only in Andhra Pradesh. Every festival/function at home, every special occasion means only one thing – we have Pulihora that day! There are some variations to this – simpler versions made with lemon/mango. The main idea is tangy taste, so when the pulusu (thick paste made with tamarind as main ingredient) is not readily available, easy to squeeze a couple of lemons or add grated mangoes when in season. The pulusu used for this is actually difficult to cook perfectly because you never know how the tamarind reacts. Usually prefer old tamarind which has a stronger tang. If asked one piece of advice on its preparation , we’d say “Don’t use a ladle or spoon to mix the temper with the rice. Spread the rice in a large basin or plate and use your hand” Remember Pulihora doesn’t contain even Onion-Garlic so the perfect prasadam in temples.
2. Ragi mudda – Editor Amar has spoken about it in detail here, so we skip this part!
3. Biryani – ah, the famed biryani J. But this biryani is not the famed one, because we typically do not make “dum biryani” at home. If it’s non-veg biryani, we first cook the chicken/mutton/prawns, mix it with the raw rice, add a variety of condiments to it and let it cook – the flavours of these condiments and masala get embedded into each rice grain! For veg, just replace the NV items with vegetables!
4. Coconut rice – another brilliant delicacy – rice cooked with coconut milk and an assortment of condiments!
5. Other types – we sometimes make quick flavoured rices like vaamu annam, jeelakarra annam etc to move away from eating plain rice day in and day out!
Typically, 2 days in a week will have some kind of flavoured rice in the homes.
We now get to the most important thing – the main course!
Typically, we make do with one dal item (dal with tomato or dal with green leaves) and a fry item (any vegetable, combination of vegetables, green leaves etc). But at least one day a week, we have specials at home. Following are some:
1. Guthi Vankaya (Brinjal) – this is a must have in any function! Only a genius could have come up with such an idea – cut the round brinjals to stuff, and cook them in a lip smacking gravy! Poetry has been written about Brinjal in Telugu and that illustrates the importance brinjal has for us and this Gutti Vankaya is the most craved curry. Tender Brinjals gently swimming in a gravy loaded with telugu syle spices is a sight that can jumpstart your salivary reflexes.
2. Chicken/Mutton/Prawns curry – for the non-veg lovers (or fanatics ;)) – this is the day we wait for! Masala powders are typically made at home with an assortment of condiments. Depending on the condiments you choose the taste and flavour changes. But any combination is just superb – remember we love spciy food – so this is not for those who cannot withstand the spice! A small trade secret – Priya Non-Veg masala paste is God send!
One very important component of our lunch/dinner is a liquid item. More often than not, this is present in the daily diet.
1. Pulusu –a tamarind flavoured liquid item that goes well with only a few vegetables (like Bhindi, chamadumpa/arbi) and fish! This item is unique to Andhra Pradesh. There is a buttermilk version of this too – majjiga pulusu that is a favorite amongst many households and it can be called a typical Andhra dish too! No tamarind in majjiga pulusu though J
2. Rasam and Sambar need no introduction I guess J - rasam is more common than sambar is, but either of them is typically present in the daily diet.
Popu/Talimpu: Dal, curries, pulusu and chutneys are incomplete without a fresh, crunchy popu/thalimpu (seasoning/tadka). 2 teaspoons of oil, a pinch each of mustard and cumin seeds, few chilli seeds if you like it spicy, make it all splutter in hot oil and add it to the pappu/pulusu. Lose yourself in the aroma!
We are not happy with eating just rasam, pulusu or sambar, need something crispy to accompany them J and that’s where an assortment of Appadalu and Vadiyalu come into the picture J. Vadiyalu are like chips or fryums (from a crispiness perspective) but far better in taste! There are multiple types of vadiyalu – made from nuvvulu, saggu biyyam etc – and have a superb taste that goes well with the liquid items mentioned above! Appadalu are papads.
Fine, but what is THE combination? J
1. Any pickle or powder, Dal (plain, tomato, green leaves), fry (vegetables, green leaves), white rice, rasam/pulusu, curd, papad/vadiyalu
2. Pulihora, Mango Pickle, white rice, guthi vankaya, rasam, curd
3. Gongura Chutney (with onion), white rice, any gravy curry (veg/non-veg), rasam, curd, papad/vadiyalu
4. Biryani (with raita), veg special/non-veg special curry, curd J
So basically, it’s upto you J - pick from any of the multiple items mentioned above and 90% of the time you will end up with a superb combination!
Snacks and Sweets
You’d think that after eating so much, we will not have space for more! But hey, we are voracious eaters ;) – within a couple of hours, we are ready for some snacks/sweets! Usually most homes have at least one hot and one sweet item handy – for emergencies ;).
Hot items include janthikalu, chekodalu etc. It takes some effort to make these items, hence they are made in bulk quantity at one go, so that we are stacked up for 2-3 months J.
The list of sweets is much longer than the the hot items – list ranges from laddus (the typical laddu of South India – made with boondi and chakkera paakam), ariselu (involves soaking rice overnight and grinding it to a powder after draining it, so this is definitely not an on-the-go item, involves a lot of planning), Bobattlu (simpler and easier to make, primary ingredients being maida dough filled with chana dal + jaggery/sugar) etc.
Kajjikayalu are fried sweets – puris are rolled out of wheat flour and filled with a variety of powders – and deep fried in oil. Very filling, so do make sure you have some space left! Another simple and easy sweet to prepare is malleeda muddalu (rice flour roti stuffed with a mixture of jaggery,ghee, grated coconut and poppy seeds), a Telangana favourite.
But what if we are out of these items? Don’t worry – we are experts at preparing instant snacks. Most famous being “punugulu” – drop some portions of the idli platter into a pan of oil, bhajjis (mirchi, brinjal, alu etc),