Saturday, January 19, 2013

My Favorite Andhra Delicacies!

Andhra Pradesh, India's fourth largest state, is located in the south eastern coast of India and is the leading producer of red chilies and rice. Not surprising that Andhra cuisine is heavily influenced by these ingredients. Crushed Red Pepper forms a staple cash-crop of Andhra Pradesh, grown in the lush green fields and sprawling acres, exported all over the world to add a hot and spicy taste that is a wonderful accent to stir fries, pizzas and pasta dishes.


Red Chilies and Rice are the staple exports of Andhra Pradesh. Photography credits "Sripriya Murthy Photography - Facebook"

Notice the artistic curvature of the design below? The symmetry and the sanguine melody of the script? Wondering if this is part of the new-age symbolism representing an abstract concept? Well, it's not. This is the beautiful script, the written "lipi" of the Telugu language - the official language of  Andhra Pradesh. 

Andhra cuisine is known for its tangy, spicy and flavorful medley of coriander, chilli, fenugreek, cumin, tamarind, jaggery and sesame. The cuisine varieties change because of the diverse topology of native Andhra Pradhesh, ranging from Hyderabadi Nawabi Biryanis, Uttarandhra or Kalinga region coastal delicacies to Rayalaseema or Telangana meat and jowar specialties. 

I grew up in a Andhra vegetarian household where pappu (dal/lentil based soup) and kurralu (curries), spiced pickles like avakai, maagai, gongura and dosavakai, pachadi (chutney/raita like saucy condiments) and podi (lentil based powdered condiment) served with a large scoop of biyam (plain white rice) were the norm at mealtimes. 

Tomato Pappu and Mixed Vegetable Pulusu - Photography credits "Sripriya Murthy Photography - Facebook"

The order of a meal is to start with modati mudda (first bite) with an appetizer of an ooragaya (spiced pickle) followed by a pappu, which is prepared with "soft" vegetables like tomato, gourds, raw mango or cucumber squash,  eaten plain, or with a pickle accompanying it. Lentil forms the main source of protein for vegetarians and my twin daughters swear by "Pappanna" or rice and lentil pappu to make a satisfying meal.  This is followed by a couple of kuras (curry/main dishes) and pulusu (stew) or sambar (thick or runny (based on your preference) lentil and vegetable soup with heavy tamarind and jaggery flavors) which add flourish to a proper sit-down Andhra meal.

Featured below are two of my favorite kuras - Gutthivankai Kura (Stuffed Eggplant Curry) and Kakarakai Kura (Stuffed Bitter Gourd Curry). Ah! The culinary journeys our families (my maternal, paternal and my married ones) have been through to enjoy these kuras!  

Gutthivankai Kura or Stuffed Eggplant Curry - Photography credits "Sripriya Murthy Photography - Facebook"
Small amounts of Neyi ghee add a hyperbolic grounding to steaming rice accompanying these pappus and kuras. 

Kakarkai Kura  or Stuffed Bitter Gourd Curry- Photography credits: Vijay Jagannath

In case you were wondering about the chef whose signature dishes the ones featured are - its my Dad! I am still living in the finger-licking reminiscence of my parents' recent visit to our home...

Mirchi Bajji or Chilli Fritters topped with Ginger Chutney

Mirchi Bajji is another Andhra dish to write home about. I remember our Tirupati visits being peppered by Mirchi Bajji stops. Bajjis made out of onions, gourds (especially beerakai) and Anaheim peppers punctuate the palette of Andhra cuisine with tangy, crispy, melty deliciousness. 

Perugu (yogurt) or Majjiga (buttermilk) for the final course where Perugu (yogurt) is added to rice and consumed as a satisfying palette cleanser. 

Peruganna with Avakai - Yogurt Rice with Pickle

This is making me hungry for my own weekend special feast - an elaborate Andhra meal, an ode to my childhood, an excuse to call my Dad and Mom to discuss recipes and share pictures of gorgeous looking comfort food. But, before I go! The final rendition of the traditional vegetarian Andhra meal - paan (Areca nut on Betel Leaf). A colorful (don't worry, the stains fade in about an hour!), breath freshening digestive curtain call to a splendid gastronomic show!

Betel and Arecanut "Paan" arrangement - Photography credits: Vijay Jagannath

I hope this feature post has given you as much joy as the well-loved dishes it features have to me, my friends, cousins, husband and kids over the years! 

In case you are interested in the generational recipes for these favorite dishes, please write to me at aalayaminspiration@gmail.com.

I promise, I will consult with my Dad before I make the recipe official!! And, here's a song for all the Telugu cuisine and movie fans from the movie "Mithunam". This song describes the apt and foodie way to enjoy the various Andhra delicacies!! Enjoy!!

Love,
Supriya

7 comments:

  1. Drooling over these wonderful delicacies.My favourites are Brinjal curry and Mirchi Bajji.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you Ruby!! Mine too. I think Andhra cuisine celebrate eggplant the way the vegetable should be celebrated! :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful pics! Could you please share the recipe for Gutthivankai Kura and stuffed kakarakai? Reminding me of my own childhood where I ate both Andhra dishes as well as Karnataka dishes as my heritage is Andhra but was born/brought up in Karnataka. Thanks for the mouth watering dishes/pics!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Rkramadh. Thank you! I am of a similar heritage,growing up with pappu and rice with avakai as the first course, and huli anna with happala sandige as the second course in our Sunday lunches! I would love to share the recipe of Gutthivankar Kura and Stuffed Kakarkai! Coming up in the next comment thread.

    Supriya

    ReplyDelete
  5. Here's the recipe for Kakarkai Stuffed. Please note, I do not measure my ingredients, and use my discretion to determine the level of spice/heat necessary for each dish.

    For this dish, get some nice fresh bitter gourd and cut it into halves or quarters depending upon the size. Then de-core/remove the bitter insides of the vegetable with the back of a spoon. Microwave the outer rinds for 5 minutes with turmeric and a little water. Set aside.

    For the stuffing, my favorite thing to use is Puliyogare Gojju with peanut powder! Talk about Andhra, Karnataka fusion!

    Now, stuff the semi cooked gourd cups with the gojju and put on a stove top for roasting with a little bit of oil. Once the exterior is well done with grill marks, you can serve with hot white rice and ghee!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Now for the Gutthivankai Koora.

    For the stuffing: Warm up bengal gram dhal, urad dhal, dhania, jeera, dry coconut and dry red chillies on a cast iron skillet. Grind into a coarse powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Add oil to the ground powder. Set aside.

    Now for the brinjals (eggplants). The brinjals can be round or long. Slit the brinjals and stuff the mixture prepared above into the brinjal. Transfer the stuffed brinjals into a pan with a little oil and water and cover with a lid. Continue to stir in a low flame until the brinjals are tender and well cooked.

    You can use some ground mixture prepared as the gravy for the curry as well!

    Happy cooking!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. This is one of the best Indian recipes guide. Thanks for sharing. Best platform for learners for those who are trying to learn how to cook south Indian recipes.

    ReplyDelete