Food Talk – Telangana, India

article by
mahesh

(Photo from: http://alchetron.com/Telangana-5784-W)

The newly formed state of Telangana has a robust cuisine that widely uses the produce of this plateau which includes corn, peanuts, tamarind, mango and sugarcane. Tamarind and mango are extensively used in this cuisine, as it adds that tartness and tang to the dishes.

The cuisine of Telangana is known for its hot and spicy taste. Hot pickles are a must with daily meals. Curry is cooked using lentils (dal), tomato and tamarind. Rotis eaten in Telangana also include those made of Jowar and Bajra apart from Millet. Some characteristics of the cuisine of Karnataka state, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh too can be found in the Telangana cuisine.

(Photo from: http://harathiscooking.blogspot.in/2014/06/traditional-jonna-rotte-jowar-roti.html)

Telangana has special dishes in its cuisine, such as Jonna Rotte (Jowar), Sajja Rotte (Bajra), or Uppudi Pindi (broken rice). Jonna Rotte is the staple food of Telangana villages with Jowar being major crop in majority of the districts in Telangana. Jonna Rotte is considered one of the healthiest foods with high fibre and protein content.

(Photo from: http://cookingmedley.blogspot.in/2006/05/mamidikaya-pachi-pulusu.html)

In Telangana a gravy or curry is called Kora and a sour stew is called a Pulusu which uses tamarind as the base. A deep fry reduction of the same is called Vepudu. Onkkaya (Brinjal) Pulusu or Vepudu, Arintikaya (Banana) pulusu or Vepudu are one of the many varieties of vegetable dishes.

Telangana Palakoora is a dish in which Spinach is cooked with lentils and is eaten with Steamed Rice and Rotis. Peanuts are added as special attraction and in Karimnagar Districts, Cashew nuts are also added. Popular Telangana curry dishes (known as Kora) include Boti and Gongura Kora made out of Red Sorrel leaves. Potlakaya pulusu, or Snake gourd stew is a daily staple dish.

(Photo from: http://amma-cheppindi.blogspot.in/2010/03/sarava-pindi-or-ginne-appa.html)

Sarva Pindi, a spicy Pan cake, is a staple breakfast, made with Rice flour, Chana dal, Ginger, Garlic, Sesame seeds, Curry leaves and Green chillies. It is an dish made with rice flour and peanuts, specially cooked on a copper utensil with butter.

(Photo from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ebRuCLnM6k)

Telangana food is also popular for its meat preparations that are rustic and true to Telangana culture. Meats are simmered in fragrant gravies made with minimal spices that do not camouflage the original taste of the meat. The most popular meat preparation is the Mamsam Pulusu, made by slow cooking mutton with tamarind leaves and is eaten with rice. Kodi pulusu and Mamsam (meat) vepudu are the other popular dishes in meat.

Other popular non vegetarian dishes are spicy mutton fry known as Golichina Mamsam, Telangana Mutton Curry, Mutton Pulao, Kodi Pulao, Komzu Pitta Roast, Talakaya Kora, Mutton Liver Fry and flavoured country chicken curry known as Oorru Kodi Pulusu.

(Photo from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEp03vZrecI)

Telangana has plenty to offer to those with a sweet tooth. Most preparations use jaggery as a sweetener, lending the dish a rich caramel brown colour. In Telangana, one can dig into a wide array of specialties like Kobbari Pappu Payasam that is made with cooked moong dal, grated coconut and milk, laced with jaggery and cardamom that has a calming effect on the soul.

Karijelu is another popular sweet dish that is nothing but a deep fried dumpling with a sweet coconut and sugar filling inside. Mutton or chicken Kheema is also used as a filling.

Sugar Madugulu is a sweet prepared using milk, butter and coated with sugar. Pharda Peni is a wafer sweet which is sugar coated and crispy. Polelu, also known as bhakshalu are rotis with a sweet stuffing. Polelu are ultra-thin and are dry and cooked without oil.

(Photo from: http://www.vahrehvah.com/sakinalu)

Chakinalu or Sakinalu is a deep-fried snack made of rice flour, sesame seeds and carom seeds. It is prepared during Makar Sankranti festival.

(Photo from: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-andhrapradesh/seasons-delight-in-the-making/article4862418.ece)

The city of Hyderabad boasts of a cuisine of its own. Hyderabadi cuisine is also popularly known as Deccani cuisine as it is influenced from the princely legacy of the Nizams. It is an amalgamation of Mughlai, Turkish and Arabic cuisines as well as the native influence of Telugu and Marathwada cuisines. It is the ultimate in fine dining and bliss to the palate. It’s tastes ranges from spicy, sour to sweet, the hot and the salty and are graciously ornamented with lots of dry fruits and nuts.

This cuisine comprises a broad repertoire of rice, wheat and meat dishes and exceptional skill in using various spices, herbs and natural edibles. It also emphasises the use of ingredients that are carefully chosen and cooked to the right degree and time. Coconut, tamarind, peanuts and sesame seeds are the key flavourings and are extensively used in many dishes.

(Photo from: http://goldensecretrecipes.com/2014/03/19/hyderabadi-chicken-dum-biryani/)

The Hyderabadi Dum Biriyani is an institution by itself. Dum Pukht cooking is especially used for preparing Hyderabadi Biryani. It is a slow method of cooking which dates back to 16th century and was introduced in India by the Mughals.

A Handi (round spherical clay pot) is used for Dum Pukht cooking which in Persian means “baked or air (steam) cooked”. The lid of the Handi is sealed with flour so that the aroma of spices used do not escape and the rice is cooked by the steam formed inside the container. The Biriyani is usually served with Mirch Ka Salan or Baghare Baigan which are together known as the jewels of this cuisine.

(Photo from: http://www.talkingstreet.in/top-10-things-to-eat-in-bangalore-during-ramzan/)

Some of the other famous dishes include Kheeme Ki Khichidi, Kalyani Biryani, Kachche-Gosht Ki Biriyani, Kheeme Ke Samose, Paaya (a bone soup), Pathar-Ka-Gosht (Mutton seared on a stone slab), Maghaz Masala (A goat's brain deep fried), Binees-Ki-Phalli Gosht (Lamb Ribs with French beans Curry) and Hyderabadi Nihari (A breakfast dish made of Goat's feet and tongue) to name a few.

(Photo from: http://www.recipeshubs.com/khubani-ka-meetha/32607)

The cuisine also offers quite a few mouth-watering desserts, which carry equally enticing names. Khubani-ka-Meetha (an apricot pudding topped with almonds and cream), Double-ka-Meetha (a bread pudding topped with dry fruits, it is a derivative of the Mughlai dessert Shahi Tukre), Dil-e-Firdaus (Kheer made of pumpkin), Badam-ki-Jhab also known as Marzipan, Mauz-ka-Meetha (a dessert made of banana), Shahjahani Meetha (A sweet made out of tomato pulp, minced banana and khowa) and the ever popular Faluda.

Kheemey-ki-Lukhmi, Chota Samosa (A crispy, onion-filled small samosa), Osmania Biscuit (A nice, soft tea biscuit, gets its name after last ruler of Hyderabad, Mir Osman Ali Khan) and Dum Ke Rote (A Semolina based sweet cookie) are some of the popular snacks of this city.

(Photo from: http://www.happytrips.com/eating-out/irani-chai-taste-of-persia-in-hyderabad/as32651993.cms)

The city is famous for its Irani Cafes. There may be Starbucks, CCD or even Chai point, but nothing beats Irani chai accompanied by Lukhmi at any time of the day. These are the famous hangouts for the people of this city. Brought from Persia in the 20th century to Hyderabad, via Mumbai and Pune, the Irani chai has stood the test of time and become a part of what defines this city.

(Photo from: http://www.amazingtruelifestories.com/stories-of-food/the-story-of-an-amazing-delicacy-called-hyderabadi-haleem/)

Any description of food from this part of the country would be incomplete without the mention of Haleem. Haleem is a stew composed of meat, lentils and pounded wheat made into a thick paste. It is originally an Arabic dish and was introduced to the Hyderabad State by the Arab diaspora during the rule of the Nizams.

It is particularly consumed in the Islamic month of Ramadan during Iftar (the evening meal that breaks the day-long fast) as it provides instant energy and is high in calories. This has made the dish synonymous with Ramadan. In recognition of its cultural significance and popularity, in 2010, it was granted Geographical Indication status (GIS) by the Indian GIS registry office, making it the first non-vegetarian dish in India to get this status.