At Mana Andhra, enjoy a treat from the Southern state and take back souvenirs ranging from Guntur chillies to pickles
IT’S been a while since Khader Nawaz Khan Road beckoned with promise of a new culinary treat. And when we heard that Mana Andhra was headed by restaurateur M Mahadevan and Prabhakar Reddy, expectations automatically rose. Located in the space once occupied by the city’s lone Greek restaurant, Kryptos, we soon learn that this is also a store for you to stock up on chillies, podis, pickles and more. “We try to keep everything here relevant to the restaurant. So you will also find the likes of chilli cheese crackers to choose from,” says chef Durga Prasad of Hyderabad and the man behind the menu.
Lunch vs dinner
Once we’re done inspecting jars of pickles ranging from gongura to gooseberry on racks dotting the restaurant, we settle down with largish menus in hand. If we had visited for lunch, this perusing of the menu would not have been required as they obviously offer Andhra’s famous midday meal. Only here it is called a Rajugari bhojanam and is served on silverware. Luckily, Prasad comes to the rescue and offers to send out tasting portions of a few signatures. We are happy to agree and soon find ourselves picking at a crispy kamju pitta (quail) vepudu. Our skills sharpened, we then take on miniature crabs or peethala fry, that are temptingly crunchy. And though the chef will tell you to chew them up, we suggest you refrain and work your way into them with your fingers instead.
Till now, it’s been a well balanced journey of spice and flavour, but Prasad’s mirapakaya bhajji is about to change all that. One bite of the batter-coated green chilli rubbed with his special spice mix and your tongue takes a good 10 minutes to be able to taste again. And still, we finish every last bite of it along with an addictive ginger tomato chutney. After the tawa fish our tongues are finally able to taste the three biryanis that are laid in front of us. Be sure to try the avakaya biryani. Though dum cooked, it does not taste much unlike the comfort dish of plain white rice mixed with pickle. As we finish up with a sugary khubani ka meetha, our mind goes back to the highlight of our meal and Prasad’s best dish for the evening according to us — the humble ridge gourd, given a rich twist in a cashewnut gravy and paired with three layered chappatis cooked with a beaten egg within.
Dinner from approximately Rs 450 per person. Details: 42106860
— Ryan Peppin