Beyond the Gates: Chennai Cuisine – Kalinga



Being an ardent lover of Andhra cuisine, I always make a beeline for any restaurant that has chettamma, pulusu or pappu podi on its bill of fare. Having seen Kalinga a few times on the Velachery by pass road, I had been contemplating dinner plans there. So last week a couple of Telugu friends came along and we stepped out into the pleasant evening looking for a culinary adventure.

Kalinga is on the Velachery 100 feet by pass road adjacent to Kebab Court, a few furlongs from the Vijaya Nagar bus stand. We walked in at around 7 pm and were the only diners there at that hour. Since my friends were more familiar with the menu, as it listed the taste of their home land, I let them settle on what to order.

We decided to start with a drumstick soup, followed by phulkas and vegetable biriyani as the main course. The curries had such lilting names that I was intrigued to try Guthi Vankaya Masala and Bendakkai Masala. “Vankaya ante Brinjal” explained my friend Pruthvi and it was easy to guess that bendakkai was lady’s finger. I looked in on the air conditioned ambience while we waited for the food. The interiors were softly lit. The decor was simple and elegant. What caught my eye were the murals done in charcoal black of idyllic and rustic scenes depicting home and hearth from old world telangana.

The food arrived presently. The soup was an interesting concoction of tamarind and grated coconut paste laced with spices and drumstick pieces. The phulkas were HUGE!! Almost three quarters of the round steel thalis. The curries in true Andhra style tasted home made. The food was hot, both literally and figuratively. The spicy masala from the bendakkai curry made my eyes water but it was finger-licking-lip-smacking worth it. The biriyani was reminiscent of the hyderabadi style.Sprouts Pesarattu

The Kalinga menu also offers Lunch thalis punctuated with the typical paapu podi, avvakkai pickle and the original “gongura” (not the sloppy blob served in our mess halls). There is also an array of sizzling non vegetarian Andhra dishes including fish, chicken and mutton. Tiffin includes the famous Pesarattu and the chettamma variety of idlis and dosas. The menu is moderately priced. We shelled out Rs 150 per person for dinner (Credit cards accepted).

Our verdict (especially reviewed by my Telugu friends) gives a definite thumbs up/tick mark/green signal/yippee yaayy yoodle for this place. So hop onto a bus to Vijayanagar and head off to Kalinga if you like it hot.

Written by Ranjini Balan, Correspondent

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