HYDERABAD: Ever faced the quandary when you want a home like meal, but outside? Sell, if you are looking for a homely Rayalaseema meal, ITC Kakatiya has got things sorted for you. As part of its Master Chef chronicles, its restaurant Dakshin is offering a spread that Master Chef Sakala Sankara grew up eating at Madanapalle in Chittoor district. There are three kinds of thalis – vegetarian, non-vegetarian and sea food, and each one has dishes that capture the distinct culinary habits of the region.
You are greeted with coconut water or Allam Neellu – special drinks to soothe parched throats in that hot and arid part of Andhra Pradesh. The latter, a cool, ginger-based drink, was refreshing. Then came the Tellagadda Kodi Charu, a light, shorba-like chicken soup, flavoured with garlic. The Natu Kodi Vepudu was succulent and perfectly spiced. By this time, an array of pickles had appeared on our plate - the peanut and jaggery one was my favourite. Mini dosa, Uttapam and a mini banana dosa too were part of the starters. Another remarkable starter was the spicy river crab with a soft shell. The spices had made their way well inside the flesh which made every bite flavourful. The Koorina Kakarakai, bittergourds stuffed with a mixture of powdered peanuts and various spices, was easily the start of the starter platter.
The main course is a thali served with staples including Chapati, three varieties of rice and Nookala Saddha Sanghati. The last one is a moist, steamed dumpling made from pearl millet flour and broken rice. It went well with the Mamsam Vepudu - tender mutton pieces with a coating of spices. There was homestyle chicken curry from the district of Boyakonda Gangamma called the Boyakunda Kodi Kura. The Royalla Masala Karam (prawns) was tangy and went well with white rice. One of my favourites among the main course was the humble Nethi Beerakai Pappu, which was lentlils cooked with ridge gourd. Add it to hot rice with some ghee, and with the side of pickles, it can be a meal in itself.
The dessert platter had Sanaga Pappu Payasam made from Chana Dal, coconut and jaggery, and Chelimindi, which are balls of rice flour, grated coconut and jaggery. The ongoing festival is on till July 21 between 12:30 pm to 2:45 pm. The prices of the thalis range between Rs 1,100 and Rs 1,500.