A Taste of India – Andhra Pradesh
In our current, rather tired condition, exploring a new land with camera and equipment in hand, there’s nothing like some good food to fuel our bodies and jolt us back into coherence. It’s a good thing then, that we’ve entered Andhra Pradesh, which is fondly called the ‘Rice Bowl of India’. The main reason for this is the popularity of agriculture in the state, but the food offered here lives up to the name. We haven’t forgotten our main goal of getting some interesting shots of course. Thankfully, this goal is well achieved here, with the interesting looking dishes and colorful spices lending a hand in our compositions.
A traditional meal in Andhra Pradesh is had on a banana leaf while sitting on a mat or wooden stool, a practice very common in southern regions of India. Water is sprinkled on the banana leaf, signifying the start of the meal. All the elements are then served next to each other, from the condiments to the desert, presenting a wide array of delectable items to please the palate. The display is visually pleasing as well.
Let’s move on to the elements that form a meal.
Condiments form an integral part of Andhra meals. The food of the region is most accurately described as spicy, and the pickles, chutneys and powders play an important role in this characterization. Condiments are made using all kinds of fruits and vegetables, giving them rich colors and varied textures. Be sure to sample these with care!
Rice holds the most important place in the meal display. The traditional preparation is rice cooked with tamarind and spices, eaten with fried veggies. In Hyderabad, the capital, rice has been used to make one of the most famous Indian dishes: Biryani. Biryani is rice cooked with a variety of spices, fruits, eggs and meat. The wide range of ingredients used in its preparation not only makes it a delight to eat, but the layered look also increases the visual appeal of the dish.
While we are on the topic of Hyderabad, we cannot leave out the meaty preparations of the region. Hyderabad is heavily influenced by the practices of royalty in its past, and people here use meat liberally while cooking. Kebabs, which are minced meat patties, are unopposed favorites. This dish is a Persian creation that has been refined and adapted to the Indian palate by a generous use of spice.
The vegetarians in the house need not fret, since Andhra Pradesh accommodates to their needs as well. The vegetarian dishes in your platter aren’t any less spicy, as vegetables are stuffed with chilies and pastes that will leave you sweating. They do make the dish look so much more interesting, which certainly pleases us folks with our lenses.
The sweet preparations of this region are just as rich and delectable as the rest of the meal. A famous dish, also prevalent in Hyderabad is the Double ka Meetha. It’s made using crisp, fried bread soaked in cardamom, saffron and sugar syrup; mixed with a generous helping of dried fruits. What better way to end just a glorious meal?
We’ve been on our journey for a while, and I’m sure a quick (or judging by the richness of the food, not too quick) stop to recharge was just what was needed. After all, we still have a long road ahead.