If you’re one of those people — and there are plenty of them — who spend the week planning how to snag a weekend lunch at the justly popular canteen at Andhra Bhavan, then it’s probably time to cheer. You no longer have to tolerate the long waiting period, the crowd and the noise that are the usual attendants of a meal there (but what a meal it always is). There is a new joint in town, serving delicious Andhra thalis, the kind that are
always followed by intense drowsiness. Best of all, there’s no crowd of impatient and hungry people, all silently but obviously wishing you would hurry up so that they can be seated — not yet, anyway.
The afternoon that we selected to lunch at Tenali — The Andhra Kitchen, which opened a month ago in Green Park Main Market, the restaurant had only a few other customers. Based on the quality of food that we were served, however, we suspect this might change soon. A restaurant that serves thalis at reasonable rates as its main attraction is typically not the kind of place where you can linger over a meal, as customers are not usually encouraged to dally over their food. At Tenali, however, perhaps due to the attentive, patient service or the cheerful, welcoming interiors, one feels a little less pressured to scarf down the food and move on.
The two thalis that we ordered — one
vegetarian and the other non-vegetarian — were deeply satisfying. The vegetarian specials of the day were Brinjal Pappu and Bhindi Pulusu — the pappu, a kind of dal, was mild and comforting just as all lentil dishes should be, while the pulusu, which is a sour and spicy curry, played off well against the pappu’s mildness. The non-vegetarian specials of the day were Mutton Curry and Chicken Curry — unfortunately, despite checking with the owner, we couldn’t get more specific names than this. We were assured that on other days, depending on our luck, we would be served classics of Andhra cuisine, such as Gongura Mutton and Fish Pulusu. Not that it mattered, since both the dishes we were served were delicious, cooked till the meat was falling apart in a gravy base of tomatoes and onions, with plenty of heat from chillies. The accompaniments — Rasam, Sambar, Peanut Chutney, Donda Chana Poriyal (ivy gourd stir-fried with split chickpeas) and Payasam (made with vermicelli and sago) — hit all the right notes. The only disappointment on the plate was the Tomato Rice, which was the right shade of red but had almost no discernible taste of tomatoes. But will that one hiccup be enough to make us stay away from Tenali? Not by a long shot.
Address: Tenali — The Andhra Kitchen, S-31, second floor, Green Park Main Market
Meal for two: Rs 950