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Telugu cuisine is a cuisine of South India native to the Telugu people from the state of Andhra Pradesh, India. It is also the cuisine of the Telugu speaking population of Karnataka and Kerela, but with slight variations due to local influences. Generally known for its tangy, hot and spicy taste, the cooking is very diverse due to the vast spread of the people and varied topological regions.
The state being the leading producer of red chili and rice in India, these two factors cause the traditional dishes to be mostly rice based with liberal use of spices making the food one of the richest and spiciest foods in the world. Both vegetarian as well as meat and sea food (coastal areas) feature prominently in their menus. Dal (Lentils), Tomato and Tamarind is largely used for cooking curries. Various spicy and hot varieties of Pickles form an important part of Telugu cuisine.
- 1 Regional variations
- 2 Foods
- 3 Sweets and savouries
- 4 Rural cuisine
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External Links
The cultural factors that have heavily influenced the cuisine are the eating habits of the Hindu Royal families and the Muslim Nawabi Royal families. There are many regional variations due to topographic differences. They can be classified based by its regions into Andhra, Telangana, Rayalaseema and Hyderabadi cuisine. Andhra Pradesh states proximity with Western, Central and Eastern India makes those border regions cuisine more diverse with Telugu population spread in those border districts in neighboring states. Also different communities have their own variations and the rural areas still follow the century old cooking habits and recipes.
The Coastal Andhra region is dominated by Krishna Delta and Godavari delta regions and is exposed to the long coastline of Bay of Bengal. Hence rice, dal and seafood are the staple diet of the people in this region. Also this region has its own variations but ultimately the dishes are predominantly rice based. Also this region is one of the largest producer of chilies and rice. Nellore region in the southern part of the region has its own unique recipes, which are markedly different from those in the Uttarandhra region.
The North Eastern districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam bordering Orissa state in Coastal Andhra region are also known as Uttarandhra or Kalinga Andhra. Cuisine of this area still has its own distinctive flavours, while it shares many similarities with the Andhra region cuisine. The food they prepare has unique taste. They cook vegetables in gravies of fenugreek seed paste (referred to as menthipettina kura), mustard seed paste (referred to as avapettina kura), sesame paste (referred to as nuvvugunda kura) etc. They are popular for cooking dishes of corn seeds or vegetables flavored in onion paste in a different style (referred to as ullikaram). The people of this region like to eat many of their foods really sweet unlike other regions of Andhra Pradesh. They often cook lentils in jaggery (referred to as bellam pappu) enjoyed with butter and steamed rice. Poori and patoli is a favorite breakfast time or festive time dish. Patoli is soaked up split black chickpeas (senagapappu or chana dal) 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. This dish is had during festive days when people would fast during the day and have it in the night with great relish. Among the stews, a special kind of sour and sweet stew made with tamarind and hing (referred to as inguva charu) is popular with kids and also adults. It can be had with rice or uppupindi. A special kind of sweet stew involving rice flour, jaggery for sweetener, corn cobs cut to similar lengths, and whole shallots is called bellam pulusu. It is known for its thick viscosity, sweet taste, and rich flavor. Their pickles are totally different from the rest of India and even when compared to other regions of Andhra Pradesh. They sun dry their mango pieces with mustard powder, red pepper powder and salt soaked in sesame oil giving the pickle a larger shelf life, darker hue and sweeter taste. This method of pickling was discovered several centuries ago in order to keep the mangoes from getting spoilt due to the high amount of moisture in the atmosphere in the region that is along the coast of Bay of Bengal.
Rayalaseema, the southern region of Andhra Pradesh, has some unique dishes in its cuisine. Due to its close proximity to Tamil Nadu and South Karnataka, the cuisine is heavily influenced by both 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), Ragi roti with a combination of ghee as well as Ragi Sangati, usually served with Spinach or Pulusu. 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. Masala Borugulu (like snacks), Ponganaalu wet rice flour, fry with oil, carrot, onions, chilis are other savory specialities in these districts.
The Telangana regions lies on the Deccan plateau and its topography dictates more bread-based dishes. Due to its close proximity with Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and North Karnataka, Jowar and Bajra features more prominently in their cuisine. Telangana has some unique dishes in its cuisine, such as Jonna Rotte (Sorghum), Sajja Rotte (Penisetum), or Uppudi Pindi (broken rice).
The city of Hyderabad in the Telangana region, once ruled by Muslim Nizams, features many variations of non-vegetarian dishes. Many of these dishes have an Arab or Persian influence. The cuisine shares a large number of bread-based dishes with the Tandoori, Mughalai and other Muslim cuisines. Hyderabad, considered to be the birthplace of biriyani, is famous for its Hyderabadi biriyani, popular all over the country. Also mutton is more favored in the regions among the other meat varieties. Hyderabad hungama is one of famous hotel in Andhra Pradesh.
Andhra breakfast (tiffin)
A typical Andhra breakfast single day consists of a few chosen from the diverse types of items listed below. Usually it consists of Idli (Rice and lentil based steam cakes), Garelu a.k.a. Vada (Deep Fried Lentil Dough), Minapattu a.k.a Dosa (Rice and Lentil based Pan cake or Crepe or breads or porriges, eaten with condiments. Tea, coffee or milk is sometimes taken with these dishes.The most common dishes are:
- Idli : A Rice and lentil based steam cakes, often eaten plain with some ghee added to it or dipped in condiments like Kaara Podi (Chili Dal Powder) or Chutney and Sambar.
- Andhra Dosa Varieties
- Minapattu a.k.a Dosa: Rice and Lentil based Pan cake or Crepe fried in flat pan laced with cooking oil, accompanied with Chutney and Sambar.
- Pesarattu: A Moong Dal based Pan cake or Crepe fried in flat pan laced with cooking oil. It is usually served with ginger chutney. Some times Pesarattu is filled with Upma, known as Upma Pesarattu.
- Godhuma Pindi Attu (Wheat Dosa): Wheat dough Pan cake or Crepe fried in flat pan.
- Dibba Attu (Idli batter based Dosa): Idli batter poured into a thick and deep frying dish and fried until the outer layers become crispy and brown.
- Atukula dosa : Dosa made from Atukulu a.k.a Poha.
- Atukula Upma: Upma made from Atukulu, just replacing atukulu with sooji.
- Rava dosa: Dosa made with Sooji dough with Chili, Coriander leaves, Onion and Pepper.
- Saggubiyyam Uttapam : Uttapan (Thick Dosa) made from Sago (Saboodana).
- Andhra Upma Varieties
- Andhra Vada Varieties
- Garelu (A type of Vada) : Deep fried Lentil based Doughnut, or regular deep fried Dal mixture.
- Punukulu or Punugulu: Bonda, a deep fried dish made from Idli/Dosa batter.
- Gunta Punukulu: Made from Rice and Dal batter fried in half sphere-shaped pan.
- Saggubiyyam Punukuli: Vada made from Sago (Saboodana).
- Mong Dal Punukulu: Bonda, a deep fried dish made from Idli/Dosa batter.
- Thapala Chekkalu : A Deep fried Rice and Dal based flat Vada added with onions, Curry leaves and chili.
- Andhra Atukulu or Poha Varieties
- Atukulu: Also known a Poha in Northern states, Moist Rice flakes sautéed in little oil.
- Challa Pongarelu: A Poha (Rice Flakes), Rice and Curd dish.
- Atukula dosa: Dosa made from Atukulu a.k.a Poha.
- Atukula dosa: Dosa made from Atukulu a.k.a Poha.
- Atukula Upma: Upma made from Atukulu, just replacing atukulu with sooji.
- Andhra Bread and Roti Varieties
- Nokulu annam: made corn of Jowar and jaggery.
- Chapatti: Flattened Wheat dough heated in flat pan. Served with Dal or Chutney.
- Puri: Wheat dough deep fried in cooking oil. Served with Potato Bajji or Chutney. Though a North Indian dish, It is prepared on some occasions and widely available in all restaurants.
Bhojanam (lunch and dinner)
Lunch and dinner are elaborate affairs in many Telugu households. In a majority of urban households, the food is served on a kancham (stainless steel) or porcelain plates, while in traditional and rural households, the food is served on arati aaku (Banana leaves). The arati aaku (Banana leaves) is also during festivals, special occasions and for guests. Also many restaurants in middle budget in smaller towns use Banana Leaves for serving. At times Vistari (A larger plate made of several leaves sewn together) is also used. The traditional packing material for long journeys was the Sun Dried Banana Leaves [Ariti Mattalu].
Andhrites are particular about the presentation and order in which their food is dispensed. For presentation, pappu (dal/lentils) and kooralu (curries) are placed to the right of the diner, while spiced pickles, Pachadi (chutney/Raita, a saucy condiment and Podi (Dal based powdered condiment) are placed to the left. On some occasions special items such as pulihora (Tamarind rice/Lemon Rice) and garelu (vada) are placed at the top right. A large scoop of Annam (plain white rice) is placed in the middle. Small amounts of Neyyi (Ghee).
Course and servings
Annam is a staple of the entire meal and is typically mixed with the other course using the right hand. It is the main source of carbohydrates. Spiced pickles, pachadis, podis and papadum (appadam) are available as condiments.
The order of a meal is to start with modhati muddha (first bite) with an appetizer of an ooragaaya (spiced pickle) followed by a pappu, which can be made with some vegetables added to it or eaten plain with a pickle accompanying it. It is the main source of protein for vegetarians. This is followed by a couple of koora varieties (curry/main dishes) either only vegetarian or a combination of vegetarian and non-vegetarian for getting their vitamins and minerals. A Pappu or Rasam or a Charu (Usually Kadi is the third part of the course. The fourth course of the meal is either a Perugu (Curd or Yogurt) or as Majjiga (Buttermilk) accompanied by a spicy pickle or any of the other condiments. After meal paan or somph, (Arcenut, Betel on Pan Leaf) is also offered in traditional households. On festival or auspicious occasions, sweet is served along with the meal, which is usually eaten first.
Koora/kura/curry (main courses)
Koora - Koora is a generic word for a protein based dish. The actual dishes are called by the material used and the style they are cooked. The different methods of cooking are:
- Vepudu (Fry): crispy fried vegetables, typically including: okra (bendakaya), ivy gourd (dondakaya), potato (bangaladumpa), colocasia and several regional vegetables but prepared separately for different days.
- Pappu Koora (Lentil based dish): boiled vegetables stir-fried with a small amount of half-cooked lentils (dal).
- Podi (Powdered Dal based condiment or seasoning): Mixed with Rice and spoonful of ghee or sesame oil.
- Gojju (Gravy), Tomato or coriander seed base adding Drum Stick, Brinjal, Okra etc.
- Pulusu (Sour Paste or Gravy): Pulusu Koora/Aava petti Koora (Stew dish): boiled vegetables cooked in tamarind sauce and mustard paste are two main varieties of Pulusu.
- Kaaram Petti Koora/Koora Podi Koora (literally dish with curry powder added): sautéed vegetables cooked with curry powder or paste, served as a solid mass. The vegetables can be stuffed with curry powder or paste and are usually cooked whole.
- Pappucharu (Thick Dal Broth) or *Charu (Diluted than a Sambar)
- Rasam (Clear soup)
- Ooragaya (Pickled), Avakaya, Gongura, etc.
- Pachadi (Pasty/saucy condiment)
- Other gravy based curries are chiefly made with vegetables cooked in tomato sauce and onion with coriander and cumin powder.
Pappu (Dal/Lentils) Toor Daal (Kandi Pappu) or Moong Daal (Pesara pappu) cooked with a vegetable or green. No masala is added to the dal. Some regions include garlic and onion in the seasoning while some regions prefer asafetida (hing/Inguva). Some times the cooked version of the dal is replaced with a roast and ground version of the dal like Kandi pachadi (roasted toor daal ground with red chiles) and pesara pachadi (soaked moong daal ground with red chillies or green chillies).
A very popular Andhra combo is mudda pappu (plain toor dal cooked with salt) with Avakaya.
Pulusu (sour) is a curry-like stew that is typically sour and cooked with tamarind paste. Other common bases are tomatoes or mangoes. The mixture can be flavored with mustard, chilies, curry leaves, jaggery, onions, or fenugreek. Fish, chicken, and eggs are typical meat additions. Pachi Pulusu is an unheated version of pulusu typically made of mangoes or tamarind consumed during warm months.
- Challa Pulusu / Majjiga pulusu - Sour buttermilk boiled with channa dal and coconut paste
- Menthi Challa / Menthi Majjiga - Sour buttermilk seasoned with ginger / green chili paste and menthi seeds fried in oil.
Perugu - The last item of the meal. Perugu (curd) is normally consumed with an accompaniment like pachadi or ooragaya.
Pachadi(Chutney/Raitha) and Ooragaya(Pickle) are two broad varieties used at times with rice. Pachadi is typically made of vegetables/greens and roasted green/red chilies. It is prepared fresh and is consumed within a day or two. Ooragaya is prepared in massive amounts seasonally and uses liberal amounts of chilli powder, methi (fenugreek) powder, mustard powder and oil. For a typical Andhrite, no meal is complete without this very essential item. It is consumed on its own mixed with rice or is also eaten as a side dish with pappu/koora.
Apart from a sizable population who are vegetarians, majority of the population cook non-vegetarian dishes. The state also has abundant seafood supply and has extensively established poultry industry. Lamb meat is another traditional fare cooked with century old recipes.
Apart from Hyderabadi biriyani, the rest of the state has its own recipe and generally known as Andhra Biriyani. Kodi (Chicken) Biriyani and Mutton Biriyani are the most popular Biriyani dishes. One version is the Nellore Chicken Biriyani available in many restaurants.
Kodi (Chicken) Koora and Mutton (Lamb) koora are two popular dishes, often made with range of spices and condiments. The gravy base is usually Onions, Tomato, Coriander, Tamarind and Coconut. These gravies are mixed with steamed rice on the plate during lunch. Also pepper is used for fried meat dishes. Popular dishes served commonly in Andhra-style restaurants include the spicy, Andhra Chilli Chicken, Chicken Roast, and Mutton Pepper Fry. Among seafood Tamarind base is widely used. The state's large Shrimp farming makes Shrimp and Prawns widely available. Andhra Restaurant chains and hotels are very popular in other states due to its extensive variety of meat in the menu.
Evening snacks (tiffin)
At home, many savoury snacks make appearance during evening time. These are
- Mixture' (Boondi mixed with chopped onions and lemon juice) -
- Upma - ఉప్మా
- Aratikaya Attu
- Andhra Munakombu
- Beeja Manoli Upkari
- Rice Nippet
- Boondi - బూంది
- Kaarapoosa - కారప్పూస
- Ponganalu - పొంగనాలు
- Vamu Bajji
- Vankaya Bajji
- Aratikaya Bajji
- Urla Gadda Bajji
- Mirapakaya Bajji - a local variety of extra-hot chilies stuffed with spices and dipped in chickpea batter and fried.
- Urla Gadda Bonda
- Vegetable Bonda
- Pakodi - పకోడీ
- Ulli Kaadalu Pakodi
- Sanna Pakodi
- Vankaya Pakodi
- Royallu Pakodi
- Kodi Pakodi
- Ullipakodi - fritters made with sliced onion and spices in chickpea batter
- Gaare - గారే Gaares are a deep fried and spiced dough.
- Perugu gaare/Aavadalu - ఆవడలు Gaare are marinated in a yogurt sauce.
- Bellam Garelu
- Rava Garelu
- Ulli Garelu
- Pulla Garelu
- Ring Chips
- Maramaraalu or Popped Rice
- Usually mixed with tomatoes, onions, coriander and lime juice and added with salt and chilli powder, mixed thoroughly and served
- Bean/Pea Snacks
- Senagala Talimpu
- Guggillu - గుగ్గిళ్ళు
Sweets and savouries
Sweets and Savouries form an important part of Telugu culture. Made on festive and auspicous occasions, they are also gifted to visiting relatives. Some of the savouries are also made for evening snack.
- Sunnundallu - Laddu made from with roasted Urad Dal (Minapappu) and Jaggery (Bellam)]
- Telangana sakinalu - Crispy snack made from rice flour and seasame.Made especially during Telugu festival Sankranti.
- Boondi Laddu
- Poornalu or Boorelu
- Rava Laddu
- Bhakshalu or Bobbatlu or Polelu
- Kakinada Khaja
- Telangana Garjalu
- Chakkera pongali (sugar pongal)
- Laskora Undalu (coconut laddu) or Raskora Undalu (coconut laddu)
- Ravva Kesari
- Kobbari Lavuju
- Vennappalu -
In Rural Andhra Pradesh, agriculture is the predominant occupation. The century-old cooking practices, especially the use of mud-pots are still in vouge, but getting replaced by Steel utensils in recent decades. The earlier cooking recipes in a village was also largely dictated by what was grown and available locally. In the drier districts Jowar, Bajra and Ragi is still in use, while eating Rice is seen as symbol of prosperity. In Delta and coastal districts Rice plays the major part in cooking.
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