Avakais to Pulusus: TRADITIONAL EATERIES 10

Going back to one’s roots with traditional dishes cooked the old-fashioned way, before microwaves and fancy ovens took over, is now quite a fad. Whether it is bloggers and YouTubers shooting videos of their ammammas cooking against the backdrop of a rural kitchen, or restaurants curating menus serving Andhra and Telangana cuisines, it is a welcome trend. The good news is that the younger generation is patronizing such places; giving the ubiquitous café food a miss.

 

WOW! explores ten of the newest restaurants in town, specializing in serving much-loved Telugu food. From the piquant spiciness of Andhra’s avakais to the comforting flavors of Telangana’s complex curries, these contemporary eateries have emerged as the torchbearers of authenticity

Every weekend, local bands take the stage, setting the vibe for the customers. On our visit, we grooved to the tunes of

Text: Ajuli, Arzoo and Ipshita

WHAT: RAGI – THE KITCHEN WHERE: JUBILEE HILLS

SPECIALTY: BAMBOO CHICKEN

Ragi – The Kitchen beckons food enthusiasts with the enticing flavors of authentic Telangana cuisine, evoking a comforting sense of homecoming with every dish. The ambience with décor that includes terracotta figurines gives an inviting vibe.

From the very first bite, the appetizers take centerstage, leaving an impression on the taste buds. The culinary expertise showcased in dishes like Rayalseema Karam Wings, Avisala

The Food

Paneer Vepudu, Rayalseema Mutton Pulao, Gutti Vankaya Pulao (veg), Veg Popsicles (appetizer) and Mokkajonna Garelu (corn vada), reflects understanding of flavors. The tantalizing aroma of carefully selected coriander and red chilli powder lingers, complementing the crispy textures and well-balanced spices of these appetizers and dishes. To further enhance the authenticity of the culinary journey, garnishes of spring onions, dry red chillies, and an assortment of chutneys and raita are presented.

For those yearning for a taste of home or embarking on a culinary adventure, the harmonious blend of a cozy ambience, unwavering attention to flavors, and time-honored recipes makes this place a must-try.

Meal for two: Rs 1200

Road No.78, Besides Bata showroom, Jubilee Hills

Tel: 8341090940

Timings: 12 pm to 11 pm

Instagram:@ragithekitchen_hyd

WOW! Pick: Thamalapaku

Kodi Kebab

WHAT: NAATU BAR AND KITCHEN

WHERE: JUBILEE HILLS

SPECIALTY: ULAVACHARU KODI PULAO

As one steps into the spacious 5000 sq.ft. Naatu Bar and Kitchen, eye-catching Cheriyal scroll paintings showcasing the tales from the Puranas and epics through Nakashi art echo the culture of the state. True to its Telugu name, the place exudes rustic charm. It comes as no surprise that the food at Naatu Bar and Kitchen reflects the true flavors of Telangana, with a blend of tamarind, sesame seeds, red chilies, and asafoetida.

Feel refreshed as you sip the Punch Falaknuma, where watermelon pulp is strained into watermelon rind, infused with hints of honey, basil, and ginger juice. The Yata Mamsam Guddu Chops, aromatic and earthy, blend Telugu roots with Karnataka-grown spices. The Ulavacharu Veg Pulao, prepared in dum biryani style, infuses nutty and citrusy notes, reminiscent of winter delicacies. Other must-try dishes are –Rayalseema Karam Wings, Gun Powder Royalla Fry (a traditional prawn preparation) and Potlan Kheema Pulao. If you want to experience the real taste of Andhra, try the hot and spicy Bheemavaram Kodi Pulao

Naatu Bar and Kitchen provides an immersive culinary experience, where art, ambience, and flavors harmoniously come together to celebrate the rich heritage of Telangana.

Meal for two: Rs 1000

Road No.36, Jubilee Hills

Tel: 9153331784

Timings: 12 pm to 11 pm

Instagram: @naatukitchenandbar

WOW! Pick: Gun Powder

Royalla Fry

WHAT: TELUGU MEDIUM

WHERE: JUBILEE HILLS

SPECIALTY: KONASEEMA PANEER FRY

Telugu Medium is a trendy restaurant that has recently made its debut, offering a delectable selection of traditional Andhra and Telangana cuisine. Embodying a rustic charm, the place evokes a sense of nostalgia, transporting diners to simpler times. The restaurant’s architecture features shallow domes and vaults, creating an earthy aesthetic that adds to its overall ambience. The eatery brings a touch of the countryside to the bustling metropolis.

The highly recommended dishes are the Nalli Gosht Biryani, known for its aromatic flavors and tender meat, and the Mudda Pappu Avakai Annam, a delightful combination of lentils and tangy mango pickle mixed with rice. These dishes showcase the authentic tastes and rich legacy of South India. You can also try Tawa Mutton Chops and Kodi Chips (a yummy preparation of chicken and corn).

Since its launch, Telugu Medium has garnered praise from food enthusiasts and culture aficionados alike for its genuine culinary offerings and an atmosphere that tells stories of history and flavor.

Meal for two: Rs 1200

Road No.46, Jubilee Hills

Tel: 9281122082

Timings: 12 pm to 3.30 pm, 7 pm to 10.30 pm

Instagram: @telugumediumkitchen

WHAT: NAANI’S PURE VEG

WHERE: JUBILEE HILLS

SPECIALTY: SOUTH INDIAN TIFFINS

Another vegetarian restaurant in the heart of Jubilee Hills is Naani’s. The all-day diner serves South Indian, North Indian and Indo-Chinese food. The multi-storied restaurant situated on the main road is hard to miss with its large teal blue doors and golden signage. The décor has a traditional meets contemporary vibe in the blue-brown and gold theme with intricate wall paintings and a partially open glass paneled kitchen, with wicker furniture.

Naani’s has much to choose from in their elaborate menu which includes everything from a typical thali to South Indian fare But it is their tiffin items that are truly their specialty. All the items come accompanied with sambar and a twotier platter of six different chutneys. Mulbagal Dosa, Nellore Neyyi Karam Dosa, Guntur Idli, Appam, are just some of the many lip-smacking tiffin items on the menu to choose form. For those craving something a little heavier, there is also an interesting choice of rice bowls including Mudhapappu Avakai Annam, Ragi Sankati, Rasam Rice and more.

Whether going for a meal or a quick snack, Naani’s is the perfect place to stop by any time of day for a pocket friendlyand comforting soulful vegetarian meal.

Meal for two: Rs 400

Road No.1 Jubilee Hills (next to Zythum)

Tel: 6309309309

Timings: 7 am to 11 pm

Instagram: @naanis_pureveg

WHAT: ITLU

WHERE: JUBILEE HILLS SPECIALTY: THALI AND SNACKS

Itlu is an authentic vegetarian South Indian restaurant serving everything from breakfast delicacies and tiffin items to typical regional specials and snacks. Itlu gives a feeling of nostalgia with its rustic village home style décor. Elements like painted wooden figures of women grinding spices and cooking, large carved wooden pillars and benches help create a pleasant ambience.

The menu has many native southern delicacies and a variety of options to choose from, including everything from different types of rice, gravies, snacks and much more. There are even breakfast items like various types of idli, dosa, vada, etc. Though these items are only available during 7 am to 11 am and 4 pm to 11 pm. There is also a special evening snacks menu which includes items like Bajji, Punugulu, Bread Bajji and more.

The Rajabhojanam Thali is the must-try lunch platter from Itlu which is only available from 12 pm to 4 pm. The thali comprises pooris, flavored rice, a dry and a wet curry, dal, chutney, rasam, sambar, curd and a dessert, making it a complete meal. The food is packed with flavor and has a wellbalanced taste.

Itlu offers some great traditional vegetarian food in a soothing environment which is not just high in quality but also reasonably priced, making it a great place to visit, especially for those craving a home style meal.

WHAT: TELUGUNESS WHERE: KOMPALLY SPECIALTY: HOMESTYLE DELICACIES

Teluguness recently opened its second outlet in Kompally (the first outlet in Hi-tech City is under renovation). The food served here includes mainly Andhra, Telangana and other South Indian cuisines, with a limited section of North Indian and Chinese as well. The restaurant is situated on the second floor and has a rustic-meets-modern homely vibe to it. Villagethemed paintings, kalamkari fabric blinders, wooden toys and kollam designs adorn the walls along with a bright warm with a bright multi-colored theme. The seating is spaced out, cozy and comfortable to accommodate large or small groups.

The menu boasts a number of veg and non-veg options to choose from. The specialties here are the regional dishes like Teluguness Signature Omelette Curry, Natu Kodi Pulusu, Jeedipappu Puttagodugu Kura and more. Their exclusive sankatis like Ragi or Veg Sankati or Special Kodi/Mamsam Sankati are also unique. With so many delicious dishes to choose from it can be hard to make a choice for that the menu also has a section of signature combos which include items like Pappu Charu Annam with Mutton Fry or Bagara Annam with Kodi Kura and more.

With a rustic ambience, and a choice of local delicacies, Teluguness is a great place to dine.

Meal for two: Rs 1200

Meal for two: Rs700

Road No.45, Jubilee Hills

Tel: 9259598282

Timings: 7 am to 11 pm

Instagram: @itluhyd

2nd Floor, SLN Plaza, Above Q by Tonique, Kompally

Tel: 9000807111

Timings: 12 pm to 11 pm

Instagram: @teluguness_official

WOW!

With a seating area of over 8,500 sq.ft., the Telangana Spice Kitchen was first conceptualized to create an authentic Telangana food that harkens back to simpler times when home-cooked meals prepared by our ancestors were the order of the day.

Abuzz with excitement, this spacious five-year-old regional food joint houses one indoor and three outdoor seating areas with plants all around. An inviting staff guides you to your seats where soothing music plays and helps you settle in before you are served some of the finest Telangana food the city has to offer; it has the potential to set your tongue ablaze, in the best way possible.

The menu boasts a wide range of hot and spicy dishes. The highlights include the fiery Golichina, Vankaya Masala and Bagara Rice, the mouthwatering combo of Muddapappu, Pachi Pulusu, white rice and papaddam. The restaurant’s specialty are the crispy Karimnagar Fried Wings made with chicken wings, hand-pounded chilli powder, coated with a mix of egg and cornflour, deep fried and served with your choice of drink.

The hot spices, the essence of the dishes served, are freshly procured from farmers directly and are dried and handpounded, making it authentic and unique to the restaurant.

To do use the spiciness, it is imperative that you give the Pheni Jamuna try. Made of pheni, cream, gulab jamun and milk, not only does it assuage your burning tongue, but will leave you craving for more!

Meal for two: Rs 1800

Near Andhra Prabha, Park View Enclave, Jubilee Hills

Tel: 9069169999, 8978179794

Timings: 11.30 am to 11.30 pm (weekdays), 11.30 am to 1 am (weekends)

Instagram: @telanganaspicekitchen

WHAT: SOUL OF SOUTH

WHERE: FILM NAGAR

SPECIALTY: SOS MUTTON PULAO

Located in the heart of the city, Soul of South serves food that is based on integrating five cuisines under one roof from across five southern states. This elegant 4,500 sq.ft. food joint celebrates southern spices, with classical Telugu music playing and the blend of piquant aromas make you relax right away. Adding to the ambience are dim lights, which provide a sense of coziness, and traditional wallart that perfectly complements the southern aura the restaurant imbues.

Taking a sip out of one of their delicious drinks, Tiger Bomb and Banana Twist, or their Coconut Pumpkin Soup, can cleanse your palate before introducing yourself to their three-course spice-laden meal. The Veg Liver Fry and the Vankaya Kura bring in the Telangana spice which can be tempered with the Bagara Rice, the Masala Vada and the excellent Pappucharu Annam reminiscent of a simple home-cooked meal. Known also for their outstanding desserts, the Palakova Puff, a puff made with filo pastry and palakova and served with ice cream, will have your mind blown.

For meat lovers, the SOS Mutton Pulao is a must while at Soul of South. Cooked with mutton, cream and ghee, green cardamom and scented Basmati rice, this one is specially recommended by the restaurant and is, we are told, one to not miss out on!

Meal for two: Rs 1200

1st Floor, Sujana One, Road No. 82, Film Nagar

Tel: 9121987630, 8268549999

Timings: 12 pm to 3:30 pm; 7 pm to 10:30 pm

Instagram: @soulofsouth.hyd

WHAT: KRISHNA’S KITCHEN WHERE:

MADHAPUR

SPECIALTY: PALA THALIKALU

Krishna’s Kitchen aims to make its customers feel at home with their curated dishes. The restaurant opens its doors soothing instrumental music playing quietly in the background, decorative bells hanging from the ceiling, murals adding color to the 118-seater joint and lush greenery all around. The vibe it creates is a laidback one.

Despite having a multi-cuisine menu, each dish has its base in South Indian spices. From their wide range of appetizers, mains and desserts, the highlights include the Palakoora Mokkajonna Vada, which is essentially a spinach and corn vada; the homely Tomato Pappu and white rice, the delicious Mudda Pappu Avakai Annam and the specialty Kodi Wings, spicy chicken served with coriander garnish and salad.

Not too heavy on the pocket, Krishna’s Kitchen offers a sizzling line-up for South Indian food with a great ambience to go with it. As for your sweet tooth, the traditional dessert, Pala Thalikalu made of the heavenly combination of thalikalu, milk, ghee, jaggery and dry fruits is a must-try to end the evening on a high note.

Meal for two: 1000

Plot No. 140, Kavuri Hills Tel: 9698840840, 9652316816

Timings: 12 pm to 10.30 pm (weekdays), 12 pm to 11 pm (weekends) Instagram:@krishnaskitchenofficial

WHAT: ANTERA KITCHEN AND BAR

WHERE: JUBILEE HILLS

SPECIALTY: NALGONDA MUTTON FRY

Antera was created keeping in mind the cuisines from Andhra, Telangana and Rayalaseema. The restaurant’s imposing front door opens to a heart-stopping 15,000 sq.ft. rustically designed area spread across two floors. The view of a greenhouse in the middle of the restaurant, balls of light and plants hanging from the ceiling, film music playing in the background, and a buzzing crowd makes for an exciting ambience to walk into.

The highlights from the menu incorporate a variety of southern flavors. Chinna Sundari , made from fresh orange, basil leaves and honey, and Vere Level , made from fresh apple, mint, peach syrup and cranberry juice, are two mocktails worth a try. The tangy Tomato Allam Rasam Soup also helps build an appetite.

Complementing the drinks and the soup are the appetizers and mains. Must-try dishes include the South Indian style Vegetarian Lollipop, Avakai Pappu Annam with Pachi Pulusu, Tawa Fish Pulao, and the specialty of the restaurant – the Nalgonda Mutton Fry. Among desserts, the creamy Mango Namazaaka and the Antera Special Leches are both so delicious, it is a challenge to pick just one.

If you are looking to spice things up, a trip down to Antera might do the trick. The variety of flavors and the vibrant ambience stay with you long after your visit.

Meal for two: Rs 1800

Plot No. 265/A, Road No. 10, Jubilee Hills

Tel: 8374040444

Timings: 12 pm to 11.30 pm (Sunday to Thursday), 12 pm to 1 am (Friday and Saturday) Instagram: @antera_hyd

DJ Sanjana, better known as Benkii, is a 31-year-old woman donning multiple hats; from being a graphic designer to a cross-fit trainer!

Quick Take

Why Benkii?

The name just resonated with me and I called dibs

Sucker for Sad songs and harmonies

Three tracks that always hype me

Bands by Flohio, Rude Girl by Sam Binga, Fresh Cut Love by Khiva

Off the top of my head

Sufjan Stevens, Phoebe Bridgers, Sam Binga, Brockhampton, Lapalux… Too many to name!

Hyderabad music scene

Massively evolved, the crowd’s listening choice has diversified too

She pursued her studies in design at the Srishti Institute of Art, Design & Technology, specializing in textile design. Later, she moved to the field of graphic design. But, even in her student days, her passion for music was huge. She realized it brought happiness to her whenever she performed at events hosted by the Humming Tree in Bengaluru. These experiences not only allowed her to expand her network but also helped her identify her strengths.

Benkii shares, “Musically, I’ve always had eclectic taste. I enjoy any music that sounds good, without any limitation on genres. I grew up listening to a heavy dose of metal, prog, and punk rock. Eventually, I fell into the singer/ songwriter Indie folk rabbit hole and haven’t really climbed out since. I learned the basics of DJing from my friend Ketan Bahirat (Oceantied), and later attended a workshop called Women in Music organized by Wild City.”

In the past few years, she has been booking slots at music schools to practice her DJ sets. Her friend Abbas Razvi, a renowned sound equipment provider in Hyderabad, has always been supportive, renting out a console whenever she needed one. Last year, she purchased an XDJ-RR, a mini version of the equipment used in clubs.

Benkii’s event, Full Send, is becoming popular in Hyderabad and Bengaluru. It serves as a platform to promote good music. The aspiring DJ expresses her

Indian DJs/producers you look up to Oceantied, my close friend and the reason I ventured into bass music, has been a constant source of learning and inspiration throughout my journey. Sandunes, a brilliant artist in a male-dominated industry, has consistently pushed boundaries. Prismer is another artist who I think is making some badass moves and music optimism, saying, “I’ve only just begun, but hopefully, I can take it somewhere over the next few years.”

When asked about the best places to perform in the city, Benkii highlights EXT as a venue that is spearheading a positive shift in the music scene, pushing it in the right direction. She also expresses her gratitude towards Giggle Water, a venue that has been open to hosting niche gigs for years, taking risks that other venues would not take up. These establishments hold a special place in Benkii’s heart for their support and willingness to embrace diverse musical experiences.

n AJULI

Lake District Bar & Kitchen takes culinary exploration to new heights with tantalizing starters, flavorful mains, and delectable desserts, all against the backdrop of gorgeous views and nostalgic music

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