Telangana is known for its distinctive cuisine that includes a wide variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Being a semi-arid state, the staple food in Telangana is not rice but millet. As a result, a variety of millets are consumed as is or used to make wholesome and rustic breads that are enjoyed with spicy accompaniments. In fact, the food of the region is the spiciest in the deccan region, thanks to the inclusion of red chillies in the preparations. Telangana food has many similarities to Andhra, Maharashtrian and Karnataka cuisine, given that it is bordered by these states. Here is a peek into the mouthwatering delicacies that Telangana has to offer.
Telangana breakfast is similar to south Indian breakfast in most ways with idlis, dosas and upma being widely prepared. However, the most popular breakfast in Telangana is the Sarva Pindi, a flatbread made of a mixture of various flours flecked with peanuts, coriander, chillies, garlic, ginger, sesame seeds and chana dal.
Rotis or flatbreads made of sorghum flour and pearl millet flour form the staple food of Telangana meals since millets are abundantly found in the region. The flour is mixed with water and seasoning to make dough which is then flattened to make rotis that are eaten with accompaniments.
Telangana cuisine uses local produce like tamarind, mangoes and peanuts to add flavour to their accompaniments. Sautéed vegetables called koora and tamarind based gravies called pulusu are the main side dishes with every meal. The koora is often a dry vegetable like raw banana or potatoes that are roasted to perfection and seasoned with salt and chilli powder. The pulusu is made by simmering tamarind pulp that is spiked with chillies, onions, toasted sesame and cumin and is used to wash down the dry millet rotis.
Telangana food is also popular for its meat preparations that are rustic and true to Telangana culture. Meats are simmered in fragrant gravies made with minimal spices that do not camouflage the original taste of the meat. The most popular meat preparation is the mamsam pulusu , made by slow cooking mutton with tamarind leaves and is eaten with rice.
Biryani is another dish that is widely consumed in Telangana, thanks to the Nizam's influence. Rice, with juicy meat and spices is cooked over a dum to result in a fragrant and fluffy main course that is best enjoyed with a helping of curd. The biryani doubles up into an entire meal in most parts of the state.
Telangana has plenty to offer to those with a sweet tooth. Most preparations use jaggery as a sweetener, lending the dish a rich caramel brown colour.
In Telangana, one can dig into a wide array of specialties like Kobbari Pappu Payasam that is made with cooked moong dal, grated coconut and milk, laced with jaggery and cardamom that has a calming effect on the soul. Garijelu is another popular sweet dish that is nothing but a deep fried dumpling with a sweet coconut and sugar filling inside.
Robust food, cooked with locally available ingredients is the hallmark of Telangana cuisine. But the cuisine is not represented enough in Hyderabad, the capital city of Telangana, given its simplistic origins and presentation. However, with the formation of the new state, one is hopeful that this rustic cuisine gets its due.
Image credit: Chandutelangana, deccanchronicle, midday