If there is one cuisine in Hyderabad which is almost as popular as the Hyderabadi Nizami cuisine, it is the cuisine of the two Telugu states – Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. Use of regional ingredients like Ulavacharu, Gongura leaves, and the famed Guntur chillies adds a myriad of flavours to this rich cuisine, which is perhaps among the spiciest in India. While a large number of economical messes serving various delicacies from the two states are spread over the entire city, there are also casual and fine dining restaurants often focusing on the food of one or more regions of the state, be it Natu Kodi Pulusu or Kaaram Dosa of Rayalaseema, seafood dishes from coastal Andhra or the lamb delicacies of Telangana. Here are some places in Hyderabad which merit a visit to try out authentic Telugu dishes. The list is in no particular order.
Ulavacharu is one of the restaurants credited with bringing the homely delicacies from Telugu kitchens to the public domain.
Ragi Mudda and Nattu Kodi
Named after the very popular horse gram, savoured in the region, the place is known for its starters like Konaseema Kodi Vepudu, Royyala Vepudu, as well as main courses such as Ragi Sankati and Natu Kodi Pulusu combination and the coastal Chepala Pulusu.
Gadwal Kodi Pulav
The varieties of Andhra pulavs that they serve are the best in the city including their signature Raju Gari Kodi Pulav and Gutti Vankaya Pulav. Try their Junnu, a traditional pudding type preparation from colostrum milk. You can also opt for their popular thalis which incorporate a wide range of Telugu dishes.
Dakshin, the fine dining chain of restaurants from ITC Hotels serves food from all the South Indian states. But their menu at ITC Kakatiya Hyderabad has a special focus on Telugu dishes.
Beerakai Paal Koora (ridge gourd simmered in Coconut Milk), Naatu Kodi Koora (Andhra style country Chicken Curry) and Uragai Mamsam (a pickle dominated Mutton Curry from Telangana) are some of the dishes not to be missed here. The Chutneys served on the table are not to be forgotten either.
This is the most popular “Telugu Mess" in the city, where people travel from across the city to enjoy economical vegetarian meals. The meals here have Pappu, a couple of vegetarian curries along with Sambar and Rasam, and every item is well-cooked. The Chutneys served on the table are extremely sought after. Non-vegetarian dishes like Royyala Fry or local style Chicken Curry can be ordered along with the meal. Their takeaway opposite the main dining hall, has many vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes, with the Chicken Fry Piece Biryani, Chicken Leg Roast and Korameenu Fry being very popular items. Be prepared for some waiting time to get a seat for lunch or dinner at this ever-crowded place.
The menu in this restaurant is curated by owner Chef Chalapathi Rao, arguably one of the authorities of Telugu cuisine in the city. Here again, dishes from all South Indian states are served, but the Telugu dishes here are something I can wholeheartedly recommend.
Pitta Mamsam Vepudu
The fiery Telangana Kodi Roast, the quail dish Pitta Mamsam Vepudu and crab based Andhra style Peethala Eguru are popular dishes for the non-vegetarians, whereas Bendakaya Vepudu and Moova Vankai charm the vegetarians.
One of the older Telugu restaurant chains in the city, Rayalaseema Ruchulu is known for its pre-plated thalis available in three versions – vegetarian, non-vegetarian and seafood. However, there are lots of variety in its a-la-carte offerings. For example, they have three variations of Pappu or the local lentil preparation, flavoured with tomato, spinach or Gongura. Pachi Mirpakaya Kodi Kura (Chicken Curry cooked in green chilli paste), Kheema Muttilu (Mutton Cutlets), Kothmeera Vankaya Kura (brinjals cooked in coriander paste) and Talakaya Mamsam (goat head meat curry) are some of the recommended dishes here.
Another traditional restaurant in the city which is also well-known for its catering services. Though the restaurant offers North Indian and Chinese dishes too, the Telugu delicacies are what they are known for. The pulavs here are called biryanis, Ulavacharu Biryani and their signature MLA Potlam Biryani served wrapped in an Omelette being extremely popular. Nellore Chepala Pulusu (coastal fish curry) and Kakinada Peethala Iguru (crab masala) are preferred by the seafood lovers. The vegetarian thali here is much in demand.
The relatively new restaurant chain has made a name for itself in a short time and is on an expansion spree.
Their vegetarian and non-vegetarian thalis, as well as their podis and pickles, are quite popular. Chitti Mutyala Royyala Pulav (a Prawn Pulav using the flavourful Chitti Mutyala Rice), Mokka Jonna Vada (Corn Vadas), Menthikura Paneer, and Bheemavaram Kodi Vepudu are some of the a-la-carte dishes they are known for.
A passionate food and travel enthusiast, Sabyasachi is quite popular in the food and beverages circles of Hyderabad, the city he has made his home for the last twenty-five years. As a much-travelled sales person, Sabyasachi has been exposed to many international cuisines as well as regional food from remote corners of India. He blogs about his food and travel experiences at Foodaholix, and is a frequent contributor of food-related articles to the print media.