Located bang in the middle of the Hitec City road, at the centre of the city’s IT hub, Hotel Junior Kuppanna brings to life even the dullest of Wednesday afternoons. The restaurant is part of the popular chain that gets a mention in definitive travel guide ‘Lonely Planet’, nonetheless. The group founded by Kuppanna of Erode in 1960 and with a presence in Tamil Nadu and Bengaluru, now opens its first in the Biryani City.
“I first came across this type of food in Coimbatore a few years ago and simply fell in love with it. Ever since, I wanted to set up a similar restaurant here. I personally set the bar high for myself when I eat out. If they can satiate me, I’m sure my guests will be happy as well,” says Andy Srinivasan who got the franchise to Hyderabad that celebrates southern spices unapologetically in gleaming stainless steel ware.
The restaurant serves the cuisine of Kongu Nadu, which comprises western Tamil Nadu, parts of Karnataka and Kerala bringing in the best flavours of the three states. While the practice of serving food in a plantain leaf is very Tamil, the use of spices is straight from Kerala and the love for rice as a base has roots in the Kannadiga land. Coimbatore is the first city that comes to mind when you talk of this cuisine and Junior Kuppanna’s food takes pride in its roots in the textile city.
“The biggest challenge for me is to ensure we maintain the authenticity of the franchise and at the same time, appeal to the Hyderabadi palate. Mass food in a fine dining style is how I would sum it up,” adds Andy.
Mutton Chukka was our appetiser and it certainly set the mood. Their Chicken Chukka is a Kongunad style kebab except that it’s served with the bone. In fact, the flavours ooze out almost in slow motion to make you cherish every spice they use. We tried the chicken leg – soft, tender and cooked deliciously, which was marinated with spices and herbs. It has strong local flavours, but none overwhelm you. Seafood lovers must head straight to the Vanjaram Fish which is cooked to perfection with just the right amount of seasoning. However, watch out for the little bones in the fish.
The star of the main course may be biryani, but the parathas hold fort, too. Served with a gravy (choice of veg and non veg), the latter are super soft, spicy and simply melt in the mouth. And finally, a meal in Hyderabad is never complete without biryani. However, Junior Kuppanna’s is nothing like its cousin in Hyderabad. Made of Zeera Samba rice with finely chopped mutton pieces, it is complemented by a spicy masala gravy and raita. The rice is soft and sticky and has very little oil. Those who don’t like this type of biryani can order the same dish with Basmati Rice. However, I would recommend visitors to try the one made in special Konga nadu style.
For those visiting this restaurant, it’s important to have tolerance towards spicy food and to keep an open mind. If you haven’t tried this cuisine before, I suggest you go out there and experience it.
Price: Rs 650++ taxes for two.
— Suhas Yellapantula