Andhra Food Festival, Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, New Delhi

Spicy and authentic Andhra food is what’s the latest flavor at Cafe Uno and we suggest you check ’em out!

I always enjoy the food festivals organized by Shangri-La’s Eros Hotel, and this time was no different. I walked into a beautifully decorated Café Uno – marigolds, banana leaves, and green coconuts everywhere. Two musicians sat in a quiet corner, luring us with gentle music that made the atmosphere festive in a non-obtrusive manner.

I started with some dry snack foods – Potato dumplings (filled with turmeric-y potatoes and flecked with bits of green chilli), Royyla Vepudu (plump pan-fried prawns in a rice flour and chili batter), and Medu Vada (crisp, seasoned perfectly; simple but delicious). The big gun on the menu was the Amravathi Kodi Biryani – yellow and bright orange rice, slightly sweet with a delicate coconut flavour, and tender pieces of chicken on the bone. What complemented this perfectly was the Andhra mutton roast. Spicy, loaded with kadi patta, and small pieces of mutton in a thick gravy, I was compelled to go back for seconds for this one.

Chef Chinna, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the Chettinad food festival a few months earlier told me that the main difference between Chettinad and Andhra cuisine is the Andhra love for chili and tamarind. Among the other curries, the Kodi Guddu Pulusu (eggs in a tamarind gravy) was memorable. The gravy (a bit thin I thought) was flavourful and the slight spicy tartness had penetrated the hard-boiled eggs, making the yolk a pleasure to devour. Peethala Mirriyalu (Crab meat with onions) was a dry dish, with fluffy chunks of crabmeat tossed in pink onions, green chilies, and black mustard seeds. These other ingredients worked fantastically well to pronounce the delicate flavour of the crab. Vegetarians can dig into brinjal curry, sambhar, various lentils, mushrooms etc (clearly I didn’t sample very much in that department, but it all looked good).

One thing I do want to mention are the rotis/dosas. I’m usually more of a rice person but the green lentil dosa (grainy and crispy on top and pale green underneath) and the Rai ki roti (sweet and flaky) here were excellent. I could eat them happily without any accompaniment and that is saying a lot. However, try them with the Mutton roast and you’ll be licking your fingers long after.

This one is on till the 4th November. Stop by for some hearty coastal fare.

Spicy, fried prawns

By Charis A. B.

is a language editor by profession, a foodie and a talented baker. When she isn't pulverizing a training dummy (and people sometimes) during kickboxing practice, she can be seen clicking away with her camera and scouring markets for hard to find ingredients. She's fond of travelling and an inveterate carnivore. Charis covers New York for Chef at Large and can be reached at charis.bhagianathan@www.chefatlarge.in