Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s plan to popularise and promote traditional and authentic Andhra cuisine internationally has sent a team of the Tourism wing on a delicious trail of identifying and moderating to add nutritional value to the most authentic traditional dishes, some of which are on the verge of extinction.
A team led by Andhra Pradesh Tourism Authority (APTA) Joint Director Sudha Kumar, a culinary expert, is currently engaged in identifying and perfecting healthy recipes.
There are some not-very-popular traditional recipes with the health factor intact in them.
Ingredients such as pounded rice, organic vegetables and fresh local raw components add that extra flavour to Andhra cuisine, says Mr. Kumar and cites the example of a unique idli-making practice in Ambajipet of Konaseema region.
It is called Pottikkal. Fermented idli batter is wrapped in jackfruit leaves in the shape of a cone and steam-cooked.
The aroma of jackfruit leaves enhances the flavour of the idli, lending the dish a unique touch,” explains Mr. Kumar, informing that the pyramid idli served with ulavacharu (the concentrated extract of horse gram) is very healthy.
Leaves and flowers of drumstick, jackfruit and amla which have medicinal value, are also being brought into use. Method of cooking and use of traditional utensils like brass vessels and earthen pots, not seen much these days, is yet another focus area.
The recipes thus culled out will be referred to a team of nutritionists for their expert advice and endorsement besides roping in an ayurvedic doctor to present his point of view on the identification of medicinal value of each recipe.
After consulting with some of the top chefs in Hyderabad, Mr. Kumar and his team have identified about 30 recipes in different categories.
In the appetisers section are delicacies such as Nalleru kada vada (vada made with the stem of Nalleru, a medicinal plant) and kobbari kudumulu (coconunt dumplings): under main course, mulaga puvvu thalimpu (tempered drumstick flower) and arati puvvu-pesara kura (banana flower-green gram curry); cereals- menthe kura-tomato annam (fenugreek leaves-tomato rice) and dampudu biyyam pesara molakala pulao (pulao with hand-pounded rice and green gram sprouts); pulses- Chintha chiguru pappu (dal with tender tamarind leaves) and in the non-vegetarian category—dosakai mamsam (meat with yellow cucumber) and sora puttu (a fish delicacy).
The team members are on an elaborate exercise of standardising each of these recipes for taste, texture, yield and nutritional balance.
The cooked samples will be sent to the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibrating Laboratories (NABL) to evaluate the amount of carbohydrates, proteins and based on their feedback, the recipes will be further modified if need be.
The final details of the recipes will take the form of a book that will be printed and published for public use. The Tourism Authority also plans to host food festivals across the country and cookery contests in the State.
We can embrace healthy food with simple tips. Substitute use of sugar with brown sugar, palm jaggery or fruit syrups.
For example, Kakinada khaja can be made using sugar syrup made with pineapple juice, banana juice or strawberry juice, he says.
Eliminate deep frying which absorbs more oil and take to concealed way of cooking (dum style of cooking). Use more of ingredients like yellow pumpkin, raw banana flowers and stem, drumstick leaves, methi leaves and cow ghee.