Chennai: Telangana will come into being on June 2, but it will take a while before the bifurcation of its cuisine from that of Andhra Pradesh in the menus of south Indian specialty restaurants. But chefs are alive to the situation and are taking the necessary steps forward.
“Though we will soon be launching a new menu at our Malgudi restaurant, we will not have a separate section for Telangana food. We would add that when the menu card is rejigged the next time around,” M.Giridharan, corporate chef at the Savera Hotel here, told.
Echoing him Hushmoin K .Patell, executive chef at The Raintree Hotel at Anna Salai, told: “We will look at bifurcating the Andhra section of the Madras Restaurant’s menu card six-eight months down the line when we redraw our new menu.” The restaurant had recently launched its new menu.
“Once the political bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh happens, we will do our research on the Telangana cuisine and add the dishes. Now Telangana cuisine is clubbed together as Andhra cuisine,” Patell added.
According to him, following the creation of Telangana state, there will be greater focus on Hyderabadi food.
Interestingly, the popular Hyderabadi biryani will now be part of the Telangana cuisine as Hyderabad with be the capital of the new state.
“Whipping up the dishes is not an issue. The challenge is their economic viability and the continued availability of vegetables as many are seasonal in that region,” Praveen Anand, executive chef at the ITC Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, told.
The hotel has Dakshin, a south Indian cuisine restaurant.
Citing the Puducherry specialty dishes offered by Dakshin, which many south Indian restaurants do not offer here, Anand said Telangana dishes will also be added to the menu card in course of time.
He said it is not a simple matter of adding a new section to the menu card. It is a hardcore business decision that should not leave a bad taste in the end.
Both Giridharan and Anand said their restaurants already serve dishes from the Telangana region; only that it is put under the Andhra food category.
“We will do our research on the dishes that could be added to the menu card of our Southern Spice restaurant,” Alok Anand, executive chef at the Taj Coromandel, told.
For most people in Tamil Nadu, Andhra cuisine is synonymous with an Andhra Meal that consists of dal powder, ghee, gongura chutney, avakka pickle, rice, hot and spicy sambar, rasam and curries. Hyderabadi biryani is another popular dish in city eateries.
Telangana, an arid region, grows millets and seasonal varieties of greens. While the people of Andhra use more chilli in their food, those of the Telangana region use chilli and masala in equal proportion. Similarly, people of the Telangana region use tamrind for making gravy.
Jonna roti, made of jower, is a staple food of the Telangana people.
Anand said the quality of mutton in the Telangana region is very good and dishes made are relished there, particularly those made of dry meat.
“The veinchina mamsam – a mutton dish – from that region is a popular item in our Dakshin restaurant. Meat of male goats is more popular in that region. The goat’s head is also cooked whereas it is generally discarded in other regions,” he added.
According to celebrity chef K. Damodaran alias Damu, once the Telangana state is born there will be greater focus on traditional food based on millets.
“Hotels can now have millets-based food on their menus. Their menu cards can become healthier,” Damu told listing items like millet cutlet/cheese balls/pakoras and minced meat millet balls in coriander sauce for starters.
He said one can look at vegetable millet-based soup and for the main course, tawa fried fish in millet sauce, fish balls cooked in varieties of millet sauce, country chicken cooked in vegetable sauce, gonkura mamisa with ragi mutha and jinga/kodi millet biryani.
“For dessert, there is millet appam/ladu/payasam,” he added.
Responding to Damu’s suggestions, Anand said those are innovations, but millet as a main course is difficult to sell to hotel guests. Millet-based dishes may go well with Sunday brunch, though.
He agreed that millet-based items could be offered as part of banquet offerings – dishes for parties or meetings.
“With the kind of sedentary lifestyle software professionals and others are leading now, there can be a business opportunity for restaurants with the ‘healthy food’ tag,” Anand said