This Andhra restaurant specialises in mild spice!
This Andhra restaurant wants to serve you low spice. And no, we are not kidding. At Andhra Anaam, the hottest (figure of speech) new restaurant within OMR Food Street, Perungudi, the owners who hail from Tamil Nadu promise full bellies, with no fear of watering eyes or a leaky nose.
Less spice, very nice
“There’s more to Andhra cuisine than heat, we want Chennai to relish our flavours instead,” says Raja Rajan (33), son of owner Prema Panchavarnam (54), as his mother readies herself for the rush of customers expected, ahead of lunch service. For both Prema, a retired principal from Jeppiaar School and partner, brother-in-law V Shanmuga Kumar Vellappan (48) who owns the franchise for a couple of salons, this is a maiden investment in hospitality. But their bustling full house under 10 minutes later, makes it evident that a lot of thought has gone into landing a strategic location — smack in the middle of an IT hub.
Even the ‘mellow’ colour palette of green and yellow spread across the 1,000 sq foot space has been chosen for good reason — “to soothe your senses” for those apprehensive of chilli, Raja shares. But this is not to take away from an authentic Andhra experience which is rolled out by chef Doradla Raja Shankar who hails from there, as well as a non-stop reel of Telugu hits playing over the speakers. “We’ve programmed our music using an algorithm that doesn’t permit a single repeat!” says Raja. Called Andhra Annam Radio by the team in-house, we’re told that instead of a radio jockey, on this ‘station’ the music is broken up by announcements of chef specials!
Chef Doradla, we quickly discover, is an innovator of sorts. His first appetiser, Munakkaya Chops, is a delicious potato bonda with a drumstick for a handle. “Something healthy in disguise for the kids,” he offers with a smile. Later, we try Royyalu Karepakku Vepudu (curry leaf-flavoured spicy prawns) which is a lovely blend of mild spice-meets-crunch. We recommend you pair it with the mint mayo or for a bit of tang, the in-house tomato chutney which is to die for.
Gaga over gongura
For mains, the chef rolls out a spree of curries — we go straight for the meaty ones of course. There is a fantastic Gongura Mamsam (tender cubes of mutton cooked with sorrel leaves and a dab of Gongura pickle!), a Khaaju Kodi masala (chicken in a delicate cashew curry) and the spiciest of the lot, an Allam Chapala Pulusu (tangy Telugu-style fish curry in tamarind sauce). “But no meal is complete without the Menthu Koora Pappu (dal cooked with fenugreek leaves and tempered in spices) and the Chintakaya Patchadi (a delightfully flavourful tamarind chutney),” the chef tells us. So we give them a go, and find ourselves reaching for seconds of that chutney — which is easy to overdose on, much like the must-have dal powder with generous blobs of ghee. Both are staples with any meal at an Andhra table.
Dessert has us playing eeny meeny miny mo between two pretty bowls of halwa — one a white Gummadikaya (pumpkin) Halwa and the other a bright orange carrot version. The sprinkles on top insist that we taste both. And we do. Decadent, sweet and pretty as a picture — we heave a content sigh when it is time to leave to make room for the queue of folks waiting for a table.
That’s a sign of a good meal, when you’ve eaten so much — it’s difficult to stand up!
Meal for two Rs 500.
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