We had visited India Gate yesterday, and the much talked about Andhra Bhavan being in the vicinity, we definitely couldn’t have given it a miss. Andhra Bhavan in Delhi, houses important dignitaries and matters related to the Andhra Pradesh Government. It also has a canteen where people throng to savor the authentic delicacies from Andhra Pradesh. And it was there we were headed to!!
After walking through a not very attractive aisle we reached the canteen which has two floors. The image was that of a Udipi restaurant (people who’ve been to Udipi hotels will know what I’m talking about) full of modest, no frill tables and chairs and waiters scurrying around serving people, calling out tokens (you need to take a token number and wait till you are called out) and taking orders. During peak hours I was told you might not necessarily get to sit with people of your group since the Manager makes people sit according to their token number wherever there is place.
The canteen offers only Andhra thalis and both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items are available. The ground floor is non –a/c and charges Rs 60 per person and the first floor is air conditioned and charges Rs 80 per person. We opted for the first floor which I thought was cleaner than the one on the ground floor. Luckily one table was free and when our token numbers were called out we got to sit to together.
The next minute a waiter came and placed 3 thalis on the table with 2 chapattis per plate, some upma, groundnut chutney, a bowl of curd, a semolina sweet and pappadam. 2 separate bowls of sambar and rasam per person were placed there too. Another waiter followed and before we knew what was happening, he was briskly doling out Pappu (Andhra style daal), Okra curry, a vegetable made of ash gourd and a heap of rice. Even before we had arrived there was a bowl of Podi, ghee and avakaya pickle on the table. In typical Andhra style, we started our dinner with rice mixed with ghee, podi and avkaya and savored every bit of t. The okra curry was yumm with fried peanuts in it. I had always enjoyed the Andhra style dal with a tad of tamarind flavor and everything tasted good. We had to literally stop ourselves from having the fifth serving of the fiery pickle for fear of the obvious consequence. We then had pappu rice, then sambar rice then rasam and finally curd rice. You don’t have to imagine hard about the quantity of rice we had devoured. One item that I had heard about but missed yesterday was the Gongura pickle, a pickle made from Gongura leaves. I asked the waiter for it and he said they were out of stock. All items (including ghee!!) except the curd are served in unlimited portions. After the meal, we picked up a packet of Gongura pickle and applams for home from the counter on the ground floor. There is a stall out the Bhavan too which sells all Andhra items, ranging from pickles, Telugu magazines to camphor and aggarbattis.
All in all, you can visit Andhra Bhavan if you can go there just for the amazing food. They can do a great job by spicing up the ambience a bit. So go there for the food not if you want an experience. Please refer to the map taken from their official website to reach Andhra Bhavan.