I have always been a Foodie since my birth, courtesy to my Mom who cooks delicious food (just like other Mom’s) and my Dad who always ensured that no vegetarian Restaurant stays unvisited in Hyderabad. Those were the days when my father was not tech-friendly but still somehow managed to take us to every new Hotel. Eating out in the earlier years was limited to North-Indian and Chaats. There were not much vegetarian options in International cuisines. South-Indian for us meant Idli, Dosa, Upma and Pesarattu. Taj Mahal still stands my family’s favourite where the aroma in the ambience is redolent of numerous celebrations we might have had. If it was not Idli-Dosa then the limited Thali was the next option where I was attracted to humble sambar and rice garnished with Ghee and Podis.
Between these years I grew from a Foodie to Blogger and my quest for knowledge and curiosity about the taste of different cuisines was at its highest peak. While I have had tried each and every vegetarian dish touching all possible cuisines, the very own Telugu (Regional) food took a back seat. The reason obviously being lack of well-maintained and fine dining Restaurant that specialised in regional cuisines. And in my humble opinion this void was created due to reluctance and unwillingness of diners to spend a bomb on the food that is cooked day in and day out in every house-hold. The other solid reason in my personal opinion could be the inability to justify the cost of the each dish in these restaurants.
Apparently in the last 2 years, a lot many Telangana/Andhra eateries have come up stirring the food scene and the latest addition to it is Ohri’s – a brand which needs no introduction. Uppu, that translates to Salt in Telugu is a tribute to the magical ingredient that people have worshipped for centuries. The ambience is intricately done and the place stands on the pillars that has elaborate cravings, recreating the setup of a Temple. The moment you step inside after being welcomed by a huge Elephant structure, an unexpected strong aura of a Temple transports you to a different world that is surreal and mind-blowing. This architectural marvel is created by Mr. Balachandran, a renowned Architect and Interior Designer.
The menu was set by the Chef itself and we sampled Mokka Jonna Garelu, Perupu Vada and Paneer Varuval for starters. The first two were Vada’s (lentil fritters), a traditional starter cooked with corn, coriander, green-chilli, onions and shallow fried. These crisp bundles of flavours topped with coconut chutney rendered an excellent mouthfeel. The Paneer was mildly spiced, earthy with a hint of black pepper.
Tomato Saar Charu (Soup) had a rich body, and very refreshing taste of cumin, garlic and coconut.
The soft entered and crisp at the edge Appam went very well with Malabar Paccha Kari Stew – a coconut milk based broth with lots of curry leaves and veggies. Malabar Paratha, hands down, was the best I have had in recent times. Buttery, crispy, gooey, unhealthy but devoured every bit of it with Battani Masala – Karnataka style preparation with red chillies, onion and tomato.
When dining at South Indian Restaurants, one should never ever miss the combination of Sambar, Rice, Podis and Pickles. These when mixed with Ghee accentuates the taste and brings out the flavour. Here at Uppu, we enjoyed a good serving of aromatic Sambar along with Podis.
Even after savouring mounds of rice, we couldn’t ignore the Vegetable Brinji (Pulav) that carried distinctive aroma of garlic, onion and other vegetables. Filter Coffee Mousse with Ganache was outstanding, balanced flavours, refreshing and soothing. The after-taste of strong coffee mousse was cut by the gooey ganache.
Coming to Mocktails, the menu is specially curated, a real stunner one. All of them are named in Telugu and are unique on their own. Uppu’s Fresh Lime Black has activated charcoal and is a soda based lemonade. Sundari when translated to beautiful is a mix of Mandarin Orange, Basil and Orange juice. Okkadu did stand out with its peculiar combination of fresh apple, peach syrup, mint and cranberry juice. Someone who has an appetite to experiment, should opt for Jalepenos and Pineapple juice based Mocktail – Vera Level.
The bells hanging from the roof and impressive painting depicting trees blooming with flowers in the sky in the PDR section is worth noticing. Overall, an extraordinary experience of South-Indian food. Elaborate menu, authentic preparation and luxurious ambience.
The hospitality of Mr. Rajnikanth was commendable. He along with Bartender Raghav explained the concept behind every dish patiently and diligently. Thank you!