Andra Pradesh – The Food Bowl of the South
A.P is situated in the south-eastern coast of India. Andhra Pradesh is famously knows as the “Food Bowl of the South” considering its richness in rice production, spiciness in cuisine and traditions associated with this region. Andhra Pradesh is blessed with rivers and tributaries. Krishna River, Penna, Godavari and Thungabhadra rivers pass through AP.
Spices of Andhra Pradesh
There is a variety of cuisine which is available in this spicy state. Andhra Pradesh is famous for red chilly production. Chilly powder is extensively used in Andhra cuisines. There is a liberal use of tomatoes and tamarind in the preparation of curries and sambhar (Yellow lentil preparation) which makes the dishes tangy.
Pickle is another very important recipe without which an Andhra meal is never complete. There are various types of dry pickles and spicy pickles. If you are looking for adding some spice to your life, may be trying out an Andhra meal will be a good idea.
Influence of the Moghuls
This state was ruled by Nizams or Moghul kings and we can find a lot of influence of their cooking style in the culinary styles of Andhra Pradesh. Biriyani is one dish which has made this state very famous across the globe.
Anyone who visits this state has to have Biriyani. Biriyani is cooked using basmati rice, which is considered the best variety of rice. It is pressure cooked for a long time along with mutton, lamb or chicken and the spices add to the flavour. Bay leaf, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves etc. add that special flavour. Onions, garlic, ginger and cumin seeds add to the aroma and natural taste of Biriyani.
Along with Biriyani, something which you must try is kebabs. There is a variety of Tandoori (Oven made of clay and food is cooked) and Tawa (normal frying pan) kebabs. Kebab is a dish where chunks of meat, fish or vegetables are either roasted in Tandoor or fried in the frying pan and served with chutneys.
Shami Kebab, Reshmi kebab, Kalmi Kebab, Hara bhara kebab, chicken tikka kebab, sutli kebab and various other types of kebabs are cooked in every nook and corner of the Hyderabad city and relished by locals and visitors alike. One Indian movie (Hindi) you must watch if you want to have a taste of Hyderabadi cuisines. It is named as Daawat-E-Ishq (It means buffet of love).
There is one specific sweet dish which you must try in A.P – Phirni. Again this has a Mughal influence and is made from rice flour, sugar and milk. Dry fruits like cashews, almonds and raisins are added for garnishing.
Sevian or vermicelli payasam is a dish which is relished equally in Muslim and Hindu households. There is an influence of Moghul cooking in the way it is prepared, however vermicelli is used all across the globe for preparing variety of dishes, mostly salty. The Italian Pasta and Chinese noodles are the most common examples of them.
Traditional Andhra Cuisine
Due to topographic differences there are many regional variations in the cuisines of this state. Rice and millet based rotis (bread) constitute of more than 50% of an Andhra meal. Dosas (Flat circular dishes made of rice flour and black lentil dough) and idlis (rice cakes) are made out of rice. Pappu (lentils) and liberal use of ghee is very important in Andhra cuisines.
In Uttarandhra the locals cook their vegetables in gravies of fenugreek seed, sesame & mustard seeds.
There are varieties of snacks prepared in Andhra Pradesh and consumed with tea or coffee in the mornings or in the evenings. Masala borugulu, ponganaalu, kodi pakodi (Chicken Pakora), Peetha Pakodi (Crab Pakodi) are the original recipes of this region.
Other snacks inspired from Indo-Chinese cuisine such as chicken 65, Chicken lollipop, Chilli Chicken, gobhi Manchurian (Cauliflower Manchurian) etc. are eaten in every part of this state. Even though the names sound Chinese, these snacks are highly localised and there is a liberal usage of Indian spices in them.
There are many fish items like Andhra Chapala Pulusu, bommidala pulusu, Endu Chapala Vankaya, Chepa Vepudu (Fish Fry); Fish pickles etc. which are very popular in A.P.
There are other items like Upma, Boonda, Kaarapoosa, Bajji (Mirapakaya Bajji (Chilli), Vamu Bajji, Vankaya Bajji (Brinjal) are popular evening snacks which are eaten in this state and have spread across India.
In this article we have talked about the most popular Cuisines of Andhra Pradesh. However due to the amalgamation of the Muslim culture and the traditional Hindu culture, this state has a variety of recipes. Andhra Pradesh has been influenced by the Hindu Rulers of past, Nawabs. Persian influence is also seen in its cuisines. There is an influence of cooking from Odisha in the northern part of A.P and the influence of Tamil Nadu in the southern parts. Different communities have their own variations and the cuisine has evolved over the generation. The rural areas still follow the century old cooking habits and recipes; however the urban areas have adapted to many influences of other countries and Indian states and changed their eating habits.