Food Talk – Andhra Pradesh, India

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Andhra Pradesh’s cuisine is probably the spiciest and hottest of all Indian cuisines. This region uses chillies and a lot of hot spices. Being the largest producer of rice in India, Andhra cuisine is mostly rice based, with vegetarian or non-vegetarian curries, gravies and pickles.

The state is also the hub for red chillies which makes most of the dishes very spicy or fiery. The traditional delicacies of Andhra are absolutely mouth-watering having a liberal use of spices.

The cuisine of the state can be broadly divided into Coastal, Uttar Andhra and the Rayalseema style of cooking.

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The coastal Andhra region is dominated by the Krishna and the Godavari deltas. Rice, Dhal and Sea Food forms the staple diet of this region.

Nellore is famous for its Nellore Reddy cuisine which is quite popular across Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The food is hot, spicy and replete with "Pulusu" and "Kodikura".

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The Nellore Thali meals are a big hit all across the state of Andhra Pradesh. Nellore is very famous for its authentic Chepala Pulsu and Nellore Style Dosa. Mutton (Lamb) Koora and Kodi (Chicken) Koora are the most popular meat dishes of the region. The gravy is based on tomato, onions, tamarind, coriander and coconut.  Fish, shrimp and prawns are favoured as well.

Obbattu (sweet stuffed bread), Ariselu (Pan fried sweet rice pancakes), Chakodi (a hot and crunchy snack), and Boondi Mithai are some of the popular sweets of Nellore.

The main meal comprises of pappu, vepudu, pulusu, charu, sambar and curd. Pappu and Aavakaaya (Mango) pickle with rice and ghee is a combination vegetarian people love to eat. Pulusu tastes good with rice and is prepared using tamarind. Fried item is referred to as Vepudu and Curry is called Kura/Iguru.

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Vegetables used here include Bendekaya (okra), Vankaya (brinjal), Sorakaya (snake gourd), Beerakaya (ridge gourd) and Dondakaya (cocina).

Gongura is a popular leafy vegetable here. In fact, auspicious occasions and marriages are not complete without Gongura Pachadi on the menu. Other dishes with this vegetable include Gongura Pappu, Gongura Mamsam and Gongura Pulusu. Gutti Vankaya Kura is a traditional brinjal curry. Panasa Puttu Koora is made with jackfruit.

Famous non-vegetarian dishes include Kodi Vepudu (chicken fry), Chepala Pulusu (Fish Gravy), Natukodi Pulusu (Country Chicken Gravy), Kodi Biriyani (chicken biriyani), Guntur Kodi Koora (chicken gravy Guntur style), Rage Sankatti, Gongura Mamsam and Peetala Iguru.

Bommidayila Pulusu is a traditional fish curry. Punugalu is a famous street food made using Dosa Batter. Keema Methi (spiced minced lamb), Chicken Nizami and Prawn Pulao are some of the other famous dishes.

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Uttar Andhra region is formed by the north-eastern districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam. Cuisine of this area has its own distinctive flavours and unique taste, while it shares many similarities with Andhra region cuisine.

The people of this region like to eat many of their foods sweeter than other regions of Andhra Pradesh. They often cook lentils in jaggery (referred to as bellam pappu) enjoyed with butter and steamed rice.

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They cook vegetables in gravies of Menthipettina Kura (fenugreek seed paste), Avapettina Kura (mustard seed paste), Nuvvugunda Kura (sesame paste), etc. Ullikaram is another popular dish where vegetables or corn seeds are flavoured in shallots or onion paste.

Poori and Patoli are favorite breakfast dishes. Patoli is soaked split black chickpeas (Senagapappu) ground to a coarse paste and seasoned in coriander seeds, onions and, at times, with cluster beans (Goruchikkudu Kayi). Uppupindi is coarsely broken rice upma steamed with vegetables and tempering seeds. Karappoddi, popular curry powder that is served with Idly, Dosa and Upma.

Inguva charu is a sour-and-sweet stew made with tamarind. It can be had with rice or uppupindi. Bellam pulusu is another highly flavoured thick sweet stew made out of rice flour, jaggery (cane sugar), corn cobs and whole shallots.

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The pickles vary from other regions of Andhra Pradesh. They sun dry mango pieces with mustard powder, red pepper powder and salt soaked in sesame oil to give the pickle extended shelf life. The result is a darker hue and sweeter taste. This method is followed to withstand high moisture from the Bay of Bengal coast.

Bamboo Chicken is a traditional tribal cuisine of Araku Valley Tribal peoples near Vizag, locally known as “Bongulo Chicken”. Bamboo Chicken is cooked inside a piece of green bamboo stalk without oil, making it healthy but delicious. The Bamboo chicken recipe has been passed from one generation to next and most of the herbs used are found locally giving it a unique taste.

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Rayalaseema, the southern region of Andhra Pradesh, has some unique dishes in its cuisine. Rayalaseema cuisine is famous for being spicy because of the liberal use of chilli powder in almost all the dishes. Seema karam is unique to its dishes.

The cuisine is heavily influenced by Tamil Nadu and South Karnataka cuisines. There are different foods and snacks made in the Rayalaseema region.

 Some of the main courses include rice, jonna (jowar) or ragi rotis with a combination of ghee as well as ragi sangati, usually served with spinach or pulusu.

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Uggani is a dish unique to Rayalaseema region especially Kurnool and Kadapa districts. It is made by boiling paddy corn and is generally yellowish in colour due to liberal usage of turmeric powder. It is usually served with Mirapakaya Bajji (chilli bajji).

Uggani bajji is served primarily as breakfast but generally eaten as a snack food too. It is spicy and is one of the ethnic and authentic dishes of Rayalaseema.

Attirasaalu (rice-based vada using jaggery), Pakam Undalu, (a mixture of steamed rice flour, ground nuts, jaggery), Borugu Undalu (a sweet variety made corn of jowar and jaggery) and Rava Laddu are the sweet specialities.