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Telugu cuisine

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Telugu cuisine

Telugu cuisine is a cuisine of South India native to the Telugu people from the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. It is also the cuisine of the Telugu-speaking population of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu with slight variations due to local influences. Generally known for its tangy, hot and spicy taste, the cooking is very diverse due to the vast spread of the people and varied topological regions.

All three regions — Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema and Telangana — have distinctive cuisines, where in semi-arid Telangana state region millet-based breads (roti) is predominant staple food, while rice is predominant in irrigated Andhra and Rayalaseema regions and ragi is popular in Rayalaseema regions which is predominantly semi-arid. Many of the curries (knows as kora), snacks and sweets vary in the method of preparation and differ in name, too.

The state being the leading producer of red chili, rice and millets in India influences the liberal use of spices — making the food one of the richest and spiciest in the world. Vegetarian as well as meat and seafood (coastal areas) feature prominently in the menus. Dal (lentils), tomato and tamarind are largely used for cooking curries. Spicy and hot varieties of pickles form an important part of Telugu cuisine.

Regional variations

There are many regional variations due to topographic differences in Telugu-speaking populations spread over a large area. They can be classified based by region into Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, Telangana and Hyderabadi cuisine. Cultural factors that have heavily influenced the cuisine over the years are the eating habits of the Hindu royal and the Muslim Nawabi royal families. Andhra Pradesh and Telangana states proximity with Western, Central and Eastern India makes those border regions' cuisine more diverse with Telugu population spread into neighboring states. Different communities have their own variations and the rural areas still follow the century old cooking habits and recipes.

Coastal Andhra

A vegetarian Andhra meal served on important occasions

The Coastal Andhra region is dominated by Krishna and Godavari delta regions and is exposed to the long coastline of Bay of Bengal. Hence rice, dal and seafood are the staple diet of the people. This region has its own variations but ultimately the dishes are predominantly rice-based. This region is one of the largest producer of chilis and rice. Nellore region in the southern part of the region has its own unique recipes, which are markedly different from those in the Uttarandhra region. Ulava charu is a famous soup made from Horse gram, especially famous in Krishna and Guntur districts. Andhra cuisine is more dominant in restaurants all over Andhra Pradesh as well as Andhra restaurants in cities like Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi.


Uttarandhra region is the northeastern districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam bordering Orissa state in Coastal Andhra. Cuisine of this area has its own distinctive flavours and unique taste, while it shares many similarities with Andhra region cuisine. The people of this region like to eat many of their foods sweeter than other regions of Andhra Pradesh. They often cook lentils in jaggery (referred to as bellam pappu) enjoyed with butter and steamed rice.

They cook vegetables in gravies of menthipettina kura (fenugreek seed paste), avapettina kura (mustard seed paste), nuvvugunda kura (sesame paste), etc. Ullikaram is another popular dish where vegetables or corn seeds are flavored in shallots or onion paste.

Poori and patoli is a favorite breakfast or festive dish. Patoli is soaked split black chickpeas (senagapappu or chana dal) ground to a coarse paste and seasoned in coriander seeds, onions and, at times, with cluster beans (goruchikkudu kayi). Uppupindi is coarsely broken rice upma steamed with vegetables and tempering seeds. This dish is had during festive days when people fast during the day and have it at night.

Inguva charu, popular among adults and kids, is a sour-and-sweet stew made with tamarind and hing. It can be had with rice or uppupindi. Bellam pulusu is another highly flavored thick sweet stew made out of rice flour, jaggery (cane sugar), corn cobs and whole shallots.

The pickles vary from other regions of Andhra Pradesh. They sun dry mango pieces with mustard powder, red pepper powder and salt soaked in sesame oil to give the pickle extended shelf life. The result is a darker hue and sweeter taste. This method is followed to withstand high moisture from the Bay of Bengal coast.


Rayalaseema, the southern region of Andhra Pradesh, has some unique dishes in its cuisine. Due to its close proximity to Tamil Nadu and South Karnataka, the cuisine is heavily influenced by Tamil Nadu and South Karnataka cuisines. There are different foods and snacks made in the Rayalaseema region. Some of the main courses include rice, jonna (jowar), ragi roti with a combination of ghee as well as ragi sangati, usually served with spinach or pulusu.

Attirasaalu (rice-based vada using jaggery), pakam undalu, (a mixture of steamed rice flour, ground nuts, jaggery), borugu undalu (a sweet variety made corn of jowar and jaggery) and rava laddu are the sweet specialities. Masala borugulu (like snacks), ponganaalu wet rice flour, fry with oil, carrot, onions, chilis are other savory specialities.


The Telangana state lies on the Deccan plateau and its topography dictates more millet and roti (leavened bread) based dishes. Jowar and Bajra features more prominently in their cuisine. Due to its proximity with Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and northwest Karnataka, it shares some similarities of the Deccan plateau cuisine. The region has the spiciest food amongst all other Telugu and Indian cuisines.

Staple Telangana foods

Tamarind. A deep fry reduction of the same is called Vepudu. Kodi pulusu and Mamsam (meat) vepudu are popular dishes in meat. Vankaya Brinjal Pulusu or Vepudu, Arintikaya Banana pulusu or Vepudu are one of the many varieties of vegetable dishes.[1] Telangana palakoora is a spinach dish cooked with lentils eaten with steamed rice and rotis. Peanuts are added as special attraction and in Karimnagar District, cashew nuts are added.

Popular Telangana curry dishes (known as Koora) include Boti and Thunti Koora made out of Red Sorrel leaves. Potlakaya pulusu, or Snake gourd stew is one among the a daily staple dish.[2]

Sarva pindi, a spicy pancake, is a staple breakfast, made with rice flour, chana dal, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, curry leaves and green chiles.[3]

Telangana snacks and savories

Chakinalu, also called Sakinalu is one of the most popular savory in Telangana, is often cooked during Makara Sankranti festival season. This a deep-fried snack made of rice flour, sesame seeds and flavoured with ajwain (carom seeds or vaamu in Telugu). These savories are harder and spicier than the Andhra varieties. Garijelu is a dumpling dish similar to the Maharashtrian karanji, which in Telangana is cooked with sweet stuffing or a savory stuffing with mutton or chicken kheema.[4]

Sugar madugulu is a sweet made with milk and butter with sugar coating, and pharda pheni' is another sugar-coated crispy wafer sweet. Recent years has seen a resurgence of Telangana cuisines in restaurants around Hyderabad with the availability of Telangana thali dish for lunch.[5]

Differences between Telangana and Andhra cuisine

Though many dishes are common, the difference are with cuisines and the method of preparation.

Telangana food can be easily differentiated from Andhra food. In Telangana scallion (spring onions) and coriander seeds are used, which gives a distinctive flavour. Telangana food uses a lot of sesame, which in coastal Andhra is believed to be too heaty. In Telangana, people believe that heating foods like sesame lead to cooling due to perspiration.[6]

In Coastal Andhra kodi vepudu is usually made with an onion gravy, a paste of red Guntur chilis and coconut. In Telangana, tamarind, green chili and spices are used.[7] In Andhra pickles, the oil is not boiled, while boiling oil is a must for Telangana pickles.


Hyderabadi biriyani accompanies with meat gravy

The city of Hyderabad in the Telangana state, once ruled by Muslim Nizams, features many variations of non-vegetarian dishes. Many of these dishes have an Arab or Persian influence. The cuisine shares a large number of bread-based dishes with the Tandoori, Mughalai and other Muslim cuisines. Hyderabad, considered to be the birthplace of biriyani, is famous for its Hyderabadi biriyani, popular all over the country. mutton is more favored in the regions among the other meat varieties.


Andhra breakfast (tiffin)

A typical Andhra breakfast consists of a few chosen from the items listed below. Usually it consists of idli, garelu a.k.a. vada (deep-fried lentil dough), minapattu a.k.a dosa (rice- and lentil-based pancake or crepe). Tea, coffee or milk is sometimes taken with these dishes. The most common dishes are:

  • Idli: A rice- and lentil-based steam cake, often eaten plain with ghee added or dipped in condiments like kaara oodi (chili dal powder) or chutney and sambar.
Pesarattu served with Ginger Pachadi
  • Andhra dosa: A rice- and urad dal-based pancake or crepe eaten with condiments like Chutney and Sambar.
    • Minapattu a.k.a Dosa: Rice and Lentil based Pancake or Crepe fried in flat pan laced with cooking oil, accompanied with Chutney and Sambar.
    • Pesarattu: A Moong Dal based Pancake or Crepe fried in flat pan laced with cooking oil. It is usually served with ginger chutney. Some times Pesarattu is filled with Upma, known as Upma Pesarattu.
    • Dibba Attu (Idli batter based Dosa): Idli batter poured into a thick and deep frying dish and fried until the outer layers become crispy and brown.
    • Atukula dosa : Dosa made from Atukulu a.k.a Poha.
    • Rava dosa: Dosa made with Sooji dough with Chili, Coriander leaves, Onion and Pepper.
Wheat Upindi Upma served with Curd
  • Andhra Upma Varieties
    • Godhuma Uppindi: Upma made from Broken wheat flour.
    • Uppindi a.k.a Upma: Upma made from broken Sooji flour.
    • Saggubiyyam (Sago) Upma : Uppma made from Sago (Saboodana).
  • Andhra Vada Varieties
    • Garelu (A type of Vada) : Deep fried Lentil based Doughnut, or regular deep fried Dal mixture.
    • Punukulu or Punugulu: Bonda, a deep fried dish made from Idli/Dosa batter.
    • Gunta Punukulu: Made from Rice and Dal batter fried in half sphere-shaped pan.
    • Saggubiyyam Punukuli: Vada made from Sago (Saboodana).
    • Mong Dal Punukulu: Bonda, a deep fried dish made from Idli/Dosa batter.
    • Thapala Chekkalu : A Deep fried Rice and Dal based flat Vada added with onions, Curry leaves and chili.
  • Andhra Atukulu or Poha Varieties
    • Atukulu: Also known a Poha in Northern states, Moist Rice flakes sautéed in little oil.
    • Atukula dosa: Dosa made from Atukulu a.k.a Poha.
    • Atukula Upma: Upma made from Atukulu, just replacing atukulu with sooji.
  • Andhra Bread and Roti Varieties
    • Nokulu annam: made corn of Jowar and jaggery.
    • Chapatti: Flattened Wheat dough heated in flat pan. Served with Dal or Chutney.
    • Puri: Wheat dough deep fried in cooking oil. Served with Potato Bajji or Chutney. Though a North Indian dish, It is prepared on some occasions and widely available in all restaurants.

Andhra Bhojanam (lunch and dinner)

Lunch and dinner are elaborate affairs in many Telugu households. In a majority of urban households, the food is served on kancham (stainless steel) or porcelain plates, while in traditional and rural households, the food is served on arati aaku (banana leaves). The arati aaku are used during festivals, special occasions and for guests. Many restaurants in middle-budget in smaller towns use banana leaves for serving. At times, vistari (a larger plate made of several leaves sewn together) is used. The traditional packing material for long journeys was sun-dried banana leaves [ariti mattalu].



Andhrites are particular about the presentation and order in which their food is dispensed. For presentation, pappu (dal/lentils) and kooralu (curries) are placed to the right of the diner, while spiced pickles, Pachadi (chutney/Raita), a saucy condiment with yogurt and vegetables and Pappulu Podi (Dal based powdered condiment) are placed to the left. On some occasions special items such as Pulihora (Tamarind rice/Lemon Rice) and Garelu (vada) are placed at the top right. A large scoop of Annam (plain white rice) is placed in the middle. Small amounts of Neyyi (Ghee)is added. Aavakaaya and Gongura are two varieties of pickles which mark the spice and flavor of Andhra cuisine.

Course and servings

Annam is a staple of the entire meal and is typically mixed with the other course using the right hand. It is the main source of carbohydrates. Spiced pickles, pachadis, podis and papadum (appadam) are available as condiments.

The order of a meal is to start with modhati muddha (first bite) with an appetizer of an ooragaaya (spiced pickle) followed by a pappu, which can be made with vegetables added or eaten plain with a pickle. It is the main source of protein for vegetarians. This is followed by a couple of koora varieties (curry/main dishes) either only vegetarian or a combination of vegetarian and non-vegetarian for getting their vitamins and minerals. A pappu or rasam or a charu (usually kadi is the third part of the course. The fourth course of the meal is either a Perugu (Curd or Yogurt) or as Majjiga (Buttermilk) accompanied by a spicy pickle or any of the other condiments.

After meal paan or somph, (Arcenut, Betel on Pan Leaf) is offered in traditional households. On festival or auspicious occasions, sweet is served with the meal, which is usually eaten first.

Koora/kura/curry (main courses)
Pulihora, a Tamarind sour fried rice of Andhra Pradesh

Koora - Koora is a generic word for a protein based dish. The actual dishes are called by the material used and the style they are cooked. The different methods of cooking are:

  • Vepudu (Fry): crispy fried vegetables, typically including: okra (bendakaya), ivy gourd (dondakaya), potato (bangaladumpa), colocasia and several regional vegetables but prepared separately for different days.
  • Pappu Koora (Lentil based dish): boiled vegetables stir-fried with a small amount of half-cooked lentils (dal).
  • Podi (Powdered Dal based condiment or seasoning): Mixed with Rice and spoonful of ghee or sesame oil.
  • Gojju (Gravy), Tomato or coriander seed base adding Drum Stick, Brinjal, Okra etc.
  • Pulusu (Sour Paste or Gravy):
    • Pulusu Koora/Aava petti Koora (Stew dish): boiled vegetables cooked in tamarind sauce and mustard paste are two main varieties of Pulusu.
  • Kaaram Petti Koora/Koora Podi Koora (literally dish with curry powder added): sautéed vegetables cooked with curry powder or paste, served as a solid mass. The vegetables can be stuffed with curry powder or paste and are usually cooked whole.
  • Pappucharu (Thick Dal Broth) or Charu (diluted than a Sambar)
  • Rasam (Clear soup)
  • Ooragaya (Pickled), Avakaya, Gongura, etc.
  • Pachadi (Pasty/saucy condiment)
  • Other gravy based curries are chiefly made with vegetables cooked in tomato sauce and onion with coriander and cumin powder.
Pappu (dal)

Pappu (Dal/Lentils) Toor Daal (Kandi Pappu) or Moong Daal (Pesara pappu) cooked with a vegetable or green. No masala is added to the dal. Some regions include garlic and onion in the seasoning while some regions prefer asafetida (hing/Inguva). Some times the cooked version of the dal is replaced with a roast and ground version of the dal like Kandi pachadi (roasted toor daal ground with red chiles) and pesara pachadi (soaked moong daal ground with red chillies or green chillies).

A very popular Andhra combo is mudda pappu (plain toor dal cooked with salt) with Avakaya.


Pulusu (sour) is a curry-like stew that is typically sour and cooked with tamarind paste. Other common bases are tomatoes or mangoes. The mixture can be flavored with mustard, chilies, curry leaves, jaggery, onions, or fenugreek. Fish, chicken, and eggs are typical meat additions. Pachi Pulusu is an unheated version of pulusu typically made of mangoes or tamarind consumed during warm months.

  • Challa Pulusu / Majjiga pulusu - Sour buttermilk boiled with channa dal and coconut paste
  • Menthi Challa / Menthi Majjiga - Sour buttermilk seasoned with ginger / green chili paste and menthi seeds fried in oil.

Perugu - The last item of the meal. Perugu (curd) is normally consumed with an accompaniment like pachadi or ooragaya.


Pachadi (Chutney/Raitha) and Ooragaya(Pickle) are two broad varieties used at times with rice. Pachadi is typically made of vegetables/greens and roasted green/red chilies. It is prepared fresh and is consumed within a day or two. Ooragaya is prepared in massive amounts seasonally and uses liberal amounts of chilli powder, methi (fenugreek) powder, mustard powder and oil. For a typical Andhrite, no meal is complete without this very essential item. It is consumed on its own mixed with rice or is also eaten as a side dish with pappu/koora.


Andhra Chapala Pulusu, or Andhra Tamarind Fish Curry

Apart from a sizable population who are vegetarians, majority of the population cook non-vegetarian dishes. The state has abundant seafood and has extensively established poultry industry. Lamb meat is another traditional fare cooked with century old recipes.

Apart from Hyderabadi biriyani, the rest of the state has its own recipe and generally known as Palaav or Andhra Biriyani. Kodi (chicken) palav is one of the most enjoyed dishes across all of the state. Royyala palav made with shrimps is considered a delicacy in homes of coastal Andhra Pradesh. Mutton biriyani and Mixed Biryani(Chicken,Mutton and Shrimp) are the other popular Biriyani dishes generally available in restaurants. There are many local variations such as Kaaja Biryani, Kunda Biryani (pot Biryani).

Kodi (Chicken) Koora and Mutton (Lamb) koora are two popular dishes, often made with range of spices and condiments. The gravy base is usually Onions, Tomato, Coriander, Tamarind and Coconut. These gravies are mixed with steamed rice on the plate during lunch. Also pepper is used for fried meat dishes. Popular dishes served commonly in Andhra-style restaurants include the spicy, Andhra Chilli Chicken, Chicken Roast, and Mutton Pepper Fry. Among seafood Tamarind base is widely used. The state's large shrimp farming makes shrimp and prawns widely available.

Andhra Restaurant chains and hotels are very popular in other states due to its extensive variety of meat in the menu.

  • Talakaya Kura: A hearty, rustic meat gravy with bold flavours.
  • Chepala Pulusu: A luscious fish curry redolent with freshly ground spices.
  • Endu Chapala Vankaya: A flavoursome dry fish gravy cooked with brinjal.
  • Royyala Kura: Prawns cooked in a tangy paste of tamarind and onion.
  • Gongura Ghosht: A spicy curry made with tender lamb pieces cooked in gravy of Gongura and freshly ground green chilli paste.
  • kodi Gudla Pulusu: Egg curry flecked with chopped onions, green chilies and bright bits of coriander.

These curries are usually served with steamed Rice, Bagara khana (Basmati rice cooked with aromatics), ‘’Sajja’’ roti (Millet flatbread) or ‘’Jonna roti’’ (Jowar flatbread).

Andhra cuisine has some native non vegeterian snacks such as kodi pakodi (Chicken Pakora), chicken 65, Peetha Pakodi(Crab Pakodi), Chepa Vepudu (Fish Fry),Royyala Vepudu(Shrimp Fry) etc. Other snacks inspired from Indo-Chinese cuisine such as chicken 65, Chicken lollipop, Chilli Chicken etc. are also extensively available but they will be generally modified by using generous amounts of Spices and chillies.

Bhimavaram town in west Godavari Dristict is very famous for its unique Non-Veg pickles such as Chicken Pickle, Shrimp Pickle and Fish pickles.

The agency(forest) area near Rajamundry is very famous for Bongu chicken (Bamboo chicken)

Evening snacks (tiffin)

Uggani bajji, a favorite snack in Rayalaseema region
Ravva Dosa served at a Hotel in Guntur.
Samosa vendor on the streets of Hyderabad

At home, many savoury snacks make appearance during evening time. These are

  • Upma - ఉప్మా
  • Boondi - బూంది
  • Kaarapoosa - కారప్పూస
  • Ponganalu - పొంగనాలు
  • Bajji and Bondaalu or Punukulu- బొండాలు or పునుకులు stuffed with spices and dipped in chickpea batter and fried with spicy dips (allam pachadi)
  • Varieties and variants: Vamu Bajji, Vankaya Bajji (Brinjal), Aratikaya Bajji (Plantain), Urla Gadda Bajji (Potatoe), Mirapakaya Bajji (Chilli), Vegetable Bonda
  • Varieties and variants:Pakodi - పకోడీ
  • Ulli Kaadalu Pakodi *Sanna Pakodi *Vankaya Pakodi
  • Varieties include Royallu Pakodi, Kodi Pakodi, Ullipakodi (fritters made with sliced onion and spices in chickpea batter)
  • Gaare - గారే Gaares are a deep fried and spiced dough.
  • Varieties include :Perugu gaare/Aavadalu - ఆవడలు Gaare are marinated in a yogurt sauce), Bellam Garelu, Rava Garelu, Ulli Garelu, Pulla Garelu
  • Murukullu orJantikalu - జంతికలు
  • Varieties and variants:*Pesarapappu Jantikalu, Challa Murukulu, Chegodilu(చేగోడీలు), Sakinalu or Chakkiralu - చక్కిరాలు, Chakli, Chekkalu or Chuppulu - చెక్కలు or చుప్పులు, Maida Chips, Colocasia Chips, Plain papadam, Aam papad
  • Maramaraalu or Popped Rice - Usually mixed with tomatoes, onions, coriander and lime juice and chilli powder.
  • Bean/Pea Snacks includes Senagala Talimpu, Guggillu - గుగ్గిళ్ళు etc.
  • Mixture' (Boondi mixed with chopped onions and lemon juice)

Telangana vegetarian foods

In Telangana regions Tamarind, Red Chilies (koraivikaram) and Asafetida are predominantly used in Telangana cooking. 'Puntikura' (Gongura) is a major staple used extensively in curries and pickles. [8]

  • Gongura Chana Dal: A vegetarian alternative to 'Gongura Ghosht', chana dal is cooked in spices and tempered with mustard and curry leaves.
  • Bachali Kura: A tangy spinach curry cooked with tamarind paste.
  • Pachi Pulusu: A spicy-sour rasam made with tamarind, chili and onions.

Some of the famous food of Telangana Sajja Rotte - Makka Rotte - SarvaPindi - Upudu Pindi Kudumulu Rail Palaram Passham (sweet) Odapa Pyalalu Sabhudhana upma Antuvuls also called as Bajji - ( Pulusu with vegetables) Kadambam Kheer(sweet)

Telangana non-vegetarian foods

  • Oorru Kodi Pulusu: Telanga’s special flavourful country chicken curry.
  • Golichina Mamsam: A spicy Mutton fry

Sweets and savouries

Bobbattu, a snack made from Wheat or Sooji filled with Jaggery and lentils
Ariselu, a sweet made from jaggery and rice eaten in Uttarandhra region
Chakodi snack, a Telugu favorite snack
Boondi Mithai, a common Andhra Indian festival sweet snack

Sweets and savouries form an important part of Telugu culture. Made on festive and auspicious occasions, they are given to visiting relatives. Some of the savouries are also made for evening snack.

Rural cuisine

Matti poyyi, centuries old Mud Stove is still in use at someplaces cooking Rural villages and for outdoor temple festivals

In Rural Andhra Pradesh, agriculture is the predominant occupation. The century-old cooking practices, especially the use of mud-pots are still in vogue but getting replaced by steel utensils in recent decades. The earlier cooking recipes in a village was also largely dictated by what was grown and available locally. In the drier districts, jowar, bajra and ragi are still in use, while eating rice is seen as symbol of prosperity. In delta and coastal districts, rice plays the major part in cooking.

See also


  1. ^ "". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  2. ^ "In Hyderabad, chicken crosses the road from Andhra to Telangana". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  3. ^ "". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  5. ^ "In Hyderabad, chicken crosses the road from Andhra to Telangana". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  6. ^ "In Hyderabad, chicken crosses the road from Andhra to Telangana". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  7. ^ "". (The New Indian Express). 29 January 2014. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Telangana Table". LESLEY A. ESTEVES (Outlook Traveller). 1 June 2012. Retrieved 22 February 2014. 
  • Taste of Telangana DNA
  • The Telangana Food table - Outlook Traveller
  • Andhra Cuisine

External links

  • Andhra Cuisine & Various Recipes
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