Greece and Turkey fight over the origin of Bakhlava. Rasogolla has now become a very sensitive and serious issue between West Bengal and Odisha. Both Andhra Pradesh and Telangana claim Ulavacharu is theirs. Chef Sankara shared this fact with us at the Telengana food festival, being held at ITC Sonar Kolkata ..
We started with Karjyam Vepudu. Perhaps the favourite dish of the evening, this was spicy fried mutton liver with curry leaves. Medium-sized chunks of liver soaked in perfectly balanced spices were cooked with care to the heights of perfection. Among the starters were Pappula Gare, essentially fried lentils. After the spicier Karjyam Vepudu, this tasted a touch subdued. But this was a nice and crunchy finger food.
We had heard lot of stories about Ulavacharu and couldn’t help but try that out first. Tangy and spicy in taste, the name Ulavacharu has its origin in the fact that it consists of Ulava or Horsegram, the staple lentil for Andhra and Telangana, and charu, which is the Rasam. This is easily the Rajma for North India and Daal for East India,usually consumed with rice.
We also had Ragi Balls or Ragi Sangati which is Ragi flour cooked with rice and napped with fresh ghee. Though unmpressive at the first look, it tasted light and succulent, Again a staple from the southern part of the country, this can be easily paired up with Ulavacharu. The main course consisted of chapa pulusu polao or Tangy spiced fish Pulao as wellas Gongura Mamsam or the typical Andhra mutton curry which is famous for the flavour of the Gongura leaves .Chef Sankara, who had come down especially to serve this dish up said he carried these leaves with him. Also featuring on the lineup was Royyala Vepudu or Prawn curry, which was delicious with a perfectly balanced gravy and buttery prawns. Its rare to find such buttery prawns with Indian gravy dishes which usually tend to overcook.
Although this was part of the regular buffet, they did offer some desserts from Telangana along with the rest of the large array of desserts.There was Khubani ka meetha and Basundi to finally complete our Telangana journey. A bit on the sweeter side, the Khubani ka meetha (apricots stewed in sugar syrup) would appeal to some whereas the Basundi, I feel had a more generic appeal.
Its good to see that ITC Sonar brings up such different and varied cuisines from Kitchens of India on a regular basis. It really inspires us food bloggers to experiment more with food and gives us the opportunity to experience food created by master craftsmen.
A heartfelt thanks to the ever smiling Ms. Arundhati Ghosh from ITC for taking us through a wonderful experience.
P.S. – The dinner was on invitation by ITC Sonar Kolkata and we attended this on behalf of Kolkata Food Bloggers