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Andhra Recipes and Cooking

Andhra Recipes and their cooking style is, like many other states, defined by its history and climate. In some senses it is an ancient kingdom, mentioned in 3000 year old Sanskrit literature. It is situated on the South East coast of India.

Prior to independence in 1947, it was ruled by a Muslim, Nazim, of the Moghul dynasty as a semi-autonomous kingdom and they were some of the richest people in the world at the time. Only a year after independence did it become integrated with India as the Hyderabad state.

After about eight years of political shenanigans it merged with the Andhra state to become Andhra Pradesh with Hyderabad as its capital.

It is a big state, over twice the size of Ireland, and the climate varies as one would expect over such a large area. That said, it is basically a hot state and if there is any general rule of thumb with Indian food, the hotter the weather, the hotter the food. And Andhra cooking is some of the spiciest food in India. It is no surprise in Andhra recipes to find ingredients such as ... 10 sardines ... 2½ tablespoons chilli powder ...

The staple is rice, which is typically boiled and eaten with curries but is also ground into flour to make attu, dosas and idlis.

Andhra is also famous for its pickles and chutneys with many Andhra recipes for these being unique in India. Probably the best known (and essentially Andhran) pickle is gongura, which we would call sorrel leaves. Mango chutney, a relish now used all over the world, is also a native of Andhra Pradesh.

The Muslim influence, particularly in Hyderabad means that there are meat dishes - mainly lamb, chicken and fish. The most well known Andhra recipe is the Hyderabadi biryrani. This is actually a dish which probably originated in Persia and is now enjoyed in various forms all over the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East; the Nazim's kitchen in Hyderabad claimed to make 49 different kinds from virtually anything edible The style prevalent in Andhra cooking is called kacchi where the meat and rice are cooked together. Kebabs and spicy stews are also common.

Most of the food is prepared with liberal amounts of spices and generous amounts of ghee are usually involved.

Breakfast will usually be idlis or dosas, both made from ground rice and fermented black lentils (urad) sometimes eaten with some chutney - maybe coconut or ginger.

Lunch is the main meal of the day, a starter is quite usual but is small in quantity. Its purpose is to get the appetite working and consists of hot or sour and very aromatic items, often raw or roasted chillies, ginger or pickles consumed with spices or seeds.

The main course varies from area to area. It could be some sort of curry (koora) which could be fried or sautéed vegetables often stuffed with curry powder or paste and cooked whole. It could be boiled vegetables cooked in a tamarind and mustard paste. in other areas it could be vegetables and daal cooked together (pappu).

An essential part of Andhra cooking, without which no meal would be complete, are chutneys or pickles, eaten on their own or with rice. These are nearly always dynamite to western tastes usually being made with vegetables and roasted chillies. A very popular pickle is avakaya which is mangoes mixed with mustard powder, red chilli powder and oil (usually mustard oil).

Chillies grow plentifully in Andhra most Andhra recipes use lots of chilli, and if you really want something spicy then try Korivi Khaaram which is basically just ripe red chillies ground up with tamarind and salt.

Andhra cooking rarely includes soup or salad, instead there is pulusu which is a general term for any kind of vegetable cooked in very dilute tamarind juice sometimes with jaggery.

In the evening it is usual to eat simple snacks. Again these are nearly always quite hot and savoury. Examples are

pakoda - gram flour and chopped vegetable mixed and deep fried (these are the southern equivalent of pakora where the vegetable is dipped in the batter rather than mixed in with it).
chekkalu - a deep fried mix of rice flour, gram and ground nuts (of course being Andhra they usually can't resist chopping a good few green chillies into the mix)
chuppulu - again a deep fried rice cracker this time with sesame and ajwain seed.

Some Andhra Recipes

Lamb Biryani (Hyderabad style)
Lamb Dopiaza
Mango Chutney

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