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Spice up your life

A new eatery that offers an interesting blend of the exotic and the familiar

Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan

CONTEMPORARY TELUGU cuisine, the board proclaims and that sets you thinking. The ambience does not hit one on the head with its native flavour - there are no earth colours, nor are there any muggus, instead there are some interesting dokra wall hangings and art works combining terracotta and acrylic.

Interesting you tell yourself as you look around the spacious interiors - it is a fifty-seater that thankfully believes that people have movable body parts that need space. "The minute we say Andhra, the immediate connotation is coastal," says managing partner Ramana. "We have included cuisine of all the three regions - Rayalseema, Telangana and coastal Andhra."

The "contemporary" bit is cleared and you settle down to business at hand - the food. Three chefs representing the three regions with the chef from Nellore (traditionally the best chefs come from there) being the centre of focus assure you of authentic taste.

So you have the copra base and predominantly seafood from the coastal areas, while the other two regions have their onion, tomato, groundnut base. It all boils down to availability my dear Watson.

While there are many who would hesitate to try seafood on the grounds of how fresh it would be, Ramana assures us that "all seafood except for prawns is brought in daily from Kakinada." And the speciality of the house according to him is the Nellore Fish Curry and the Bommidalu Fish Curry. The fun thing is to do is have stuff like dosas - the khara dosa with garlic and red chilli is a tongue tingler while the palak dosa is a delightful combination of the crisp and chewy - with Kheema or chicken curry or the simply amazing Tamara Phool Makhani (lotus flower).

Where is the rice you say? Choose from Kunda Biryani or Kushka (literally coloured rice!) or tread where not many have gone before and try out the Ragi Sangati - which tastes like a close cousin of the Karnataka Ragi Mudde. Douse it with gravy and it rocks.

Since traditionally dessert is not a part of Telugu culture - it is elevated to the status of a stand-alone meal and not dismissed as an afterthought - the sweet side just has a couple of payasams and ice creams. Double ka meetha and company, the Nizamian influence, would be making their presence felt by and by, Ramana assures us.

A nice meal in a quiet ambience is all one sometimes needs to achieve instant nirvana!

* * *

What: Black Pepper

Where: Road No 7, Banjara Hills, (Ph: 55844100)

When: 1 p.m. to 3.30 p.m, 7.30 p.m. to 12.00 p.m.

Tariff (meal for two) Rs. 200

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHHIBBER

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