Chilies and Chennaiites

The other day  we  along with some friends visited a newly opened café on Eldams Road  for lunch. The  quality  of  the stuff served left much to be desired  but  what  came as a surprise   was   the assumption that  generally people from Andhra preferred  a liberal amount of chillies added to what ever dish that was prepared. I should confess that  the  sight of  the “thali” with small  cups of side dishes   neatly  placed around a  large   portion of rice  did make my mouth water but once I dug into  the food my eyes began  to water  and I was gulping  glasses  of  it  with  spoonfuls  of sugar added.

My act  seemed  to have  surprised one of  my friends who observed, “Don’t  you Andhras  eat a lot of “hot” food ?  You people make such  lovely  Mango  pickle  which looks  very  appetizing   with  its rich colour.”

The restaurant in charge  came out with a different explanation  for using plenty of chilies in their cooking, “Our customers who are generally youngsters prefer  “hot’’  food  and we  try  to  cater to this segment.”

I found Madras  has not only changed its name  but among the several changes that I  perceived  in the four decades of my stay here, the  number of hotels/restaurants that  have multiplied, uniformly  cater to the tastes of younger generation. Chennai  is known for its three seasons, hot, hotter and hottest  and  the epithet   seems to apply to its  food  as well!

Now I am wondering  whether  it is  Andhras  who use more chilies in their cooking or it is the   Chennaites ?


n.meera raghavendra rao


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