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Meaty treat

The food festival at Amaravathi on Cathedral Road, which is on till August 4, brings mouth-watering delicacies from Nellore.

THE FLYER talked of chefs from Nellore whipping up specialties. Intriguing, definitely. It is not often that we get such exact regional treats. Later the ads said Nellore chefs are doing coastal delicacies and that widened the focus to the entire coast. On Sunday night, Amaravathi, Cathedral Road, looked like a local cinema on the first day first show of a new release.

Seeing the crowd waiting patiently at the foyer, we resigned ourselves for a long wait. But within 10 minutes the maitre d'hotel called us in. Inside it was a display of efficiency and speed. Table was cleaned and fresh glasses and banana leaves laid in a trice. Order was taken and delivered within a span of 10 minutes.

The menu didn't begin and end with seafood. There are mutton, chicken, quail, rabbit and eggs as well. But the veges are expendable sidekicks at this heavily meaty show. With the crowd pouring in there was no time for frills like starters and we plunged right in with Set dosai (Rs. 22), Parotta (Rs. 25), Pesarattu with ginger chutney (Rs. 30) and Nellore chicken biriyani (Rs. 58). Biriyani was the pick of the lot, spicy and pleasing. It lacked the smooth polish of the Nawabi cousin, but packed quite a punch. Pesarattu was a damp squib. While dosai and parotta came in pairs, the Andhra special was in a state of `blessed singleness'. The ginger chutney couldn't revive its flagging fortunes. Among the side orders, Prawn with mango (Rs. 52) was the best. But it tasted very Tamilian. Mutton with gonkura leaves (Rs. 65) was nice. There was more to it than the bite of chillies, though the gonkura was rather sparse in the curry.

Chicken Amaravathi (Rs. 65) was the type of dish that stayed with you even after you left the restaurant. The red tint didn't come off the fingers even with vigorous scrubbing. If you don't get riled with food colouring, then it is worth a try. The meat was tender and tasty. Horse gram curry (Rs. 40), a typical preparation of the region, was more like a thickened version of our own Puli saaru. The ground gram gave it more body and flavour. The absence of desserts was a real blow. Even an ice cream would have been welcome at the end of the fiery dinner. One sorely missed the palliative to soothe the burning taste buds. The festival is on till August 4.

MARIEN MATHEW

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