Andhra food is one of the oldest native foods of country and is marked by traditional preparations as dictated by the rich cultural heritage of the community. Hot and Spicy flavors predominate the Andhra Cuisine which includes the Moghul influenced Hyderabadi cuisine as well.
The cuisine from Andhra Pradesh is also called Telugu cuisine. The foods of Andhra Pradesh are famous for the heavy use of spices. Rice is the staple food in the Andhra cuisine and is usually consumed with a variety of curries and lentil soups and broths. A typical meal in Andhra cuisine consists of a combination of cooked rice, dal (pappu), curry, pickles (pachadi), yogurt (perugu) or buttermilk (majjiga), and papadum (appadam). Chewing paan, a mixture of betel leaves and areca nut is also a common practice after meals.
Widely used ingredients of Andhra Cuisine
Tamarind is one of the widely used ingredients in Andhra recipes. Most meal accompaniments use tamarind. Chutneys, Pulusu, Sambar( lentil stew), Rasam(tamarind soup), pulihora all use tamarind in good amounts. Green chilies, red chilies and jaggery are other ingredients that are used in Andhra cooking.
Cooking Methods and Utensils of Andhra Cuisine
A lot of Andhra recipes are generally prepared by stir-frying in oil. Delicious curries and rice dishes are made by stir-frying in a mukudu (skillet). Andhra food is also prepared by boiling. Chutneys are prepared by grinding (rubbi) the ingredients to a paste in a modern or conventional blender (rollu). The Amandasta godda is used to crush spices.
Andhra Food Specials
Pulihora, Gongoora pacchadi ( leaves chutney), Bobattulu, boorlu and kakinada kajha are some of the utterly compelling Andhra food. Aaviri kudumu ( urad dal idli) is a steamed breakfast item that is often considered a healthy Andhra food.
Kids generally love desserts like Putarekulu and Chegodi for a snack. Uttapam is an Andhra food that is fast growing in popularity throughout the world.
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 Andhra 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
- Godhuma Uppindi: Upma made from Broken wheat flour.
- Uppindi a.k.a Upma: Upma made from broken Sooji flour.
- Saggubiyyam (Sago) Upma : Uppma made from Sago (Saboodana).
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 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.
Bhojanam (Lunch and Dinner)
Lunch is usually an elaborate meal in most traditional function; the meal is served on arati aaku, a single plantain leaf, or vistari, a larger plate made of several leaves sewn together. Recently, more people have begun using broad steel plates called kancham. Lunch is served on a single plate in a specific arrangement. Curries and pappu are placed to the right of the diner, while pickles and podi are placed on the left. Special items such as pulihora and garelu are placed at the top right. A large scoop of rice is placed in the middle. Small amounts of pulusu, ghee and buttermilk are typically sprinkled onto the leaf. The ghee is mixed with every item except perugu/majjiga. Food is given tremendous respect in Andhra cuisine and they have a perfect balance of nutrients and flavours in every meal.
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)
Many savoury snacks make appearance during evening time. These are
Beeja Manoli Upkari
Bajji and Bondaalu or Punukulu- with spicy dips (allam pachadi)
- 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
- Ulli Kaadalu Pakodi
- Sanna Pakodi
- Vankaya Pakodi
- Royallu Pakodi
- Kodi Pakodi
- Ullipakodi – fritters made with sliced onion and spices in chickpea batter
Gaare – Gaares are a deep fried and spiced dough.
- Perugu gaare/Aavadalu – Gaare are marinated in a yogurt sauce.
- Bellam Garelu
- Rava Garelu
- Ulli Garelu
- Pulla Garelu
- Ring Chips
Sakinalu or Chakkiralu
Chekkalu or Chuppulu
Maramaraalu or Popped Rice
Usually mixed with tomatoes, onions, coriander and lime juice and added with salt and chilli powder, mixed thoroughly and served
- Senagala Talimpu
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