Ananda is an Andhra Cuisine restaurant, that’s nestled in the by-lanes of Banjara Hills, and would be almost lost to sight amongst all the contemporary buildings, if not for its unique ancestral home styled architecture.
In spite of this place being around the corner from where I live, I always gave it a miss. Could be because it was so close to my place, that ‘eating out’ never felt like ‘eating out’ if you had to travel just 5min to the restaurant to ‘eat out’. But that never stopped me from admiring this piece of art that looked so majestic amongst your typical concrete jungle.
The exquisite woodwork and stone work that comprises this building, gives it a regal look, and takes one to different era altogether. The main door to the Swing in the semi-courtyard area, to the brass lamps with flowers adoring them; all add to the cozy ambiance. The two majestic looking stone lions…well, look majestic!!!
So when we had friends visiting who did not want to go too far out to dine, as they had a toddler along and wanted to be back soon, Ananda was the obvious choice. And it was something I was waiting for, (as if I needed a reason to come try out this restaurant), to cut out one more name off my ‘restaurant wish list’.
The second I entered this place, I found it rather cozy and pleasing like I am in someone’s ancestral home. The Tanjavore paintings were really beautiful and I absolutely loved the traditional feel of this restaurant. But I felt that it would look much better if it had more natural light coming through. I somehow like a brighter looking place. The top floor I was told was rather beautiful, but too bad I could not check it out, as they had a private party going on there.
So all this admiration of this lovely looking place got me really hungry, and the amazing smells too were tantalizing. At last I sat and ordered one of their specialties ‘Chitimutyala Pulav’, which sounded really unique, as I have never heard of such a dish before. Also, a Kaju kodi Pakodi, Panner Tikka and Veg Pulav.
The Kaju Kodi Pakodi was good, but more Kaju in it would have done justice to its name, as I bit into a Kaju only in my sixth pakodi. The Panner Tikka was soft and it tasted nothing like your regular panner tikka, which I was afraid of, and almost regretting ordering it; but this had some achari taste to it, and I suppose they added some mango pickle/avakaya to it to give it that added zing. Loved it!!! The pickle must have been added while marinating, as the mustard flavor of the pickle penetrated the panner and it tasted fabulous. Definitely having this again. The Veg Pulav was very mild yet flavorsome. It did not need any gravy to add flavor to it, as it was quite tasty on its own.
Now speaking about the Chitimutyala Pulav, I found the texture of the rice very different from usual. Here the rice looked more broken like in Broken Wheat/Daliya. The spice levels are on a higher side, so beware those who cant handle it. The rice felt like it was fried as it had that look. I wasn’t a great fan of the dish, but for those wanting to try something different and not your regular Hyderabadi Biryani, this would be the obvious choice. The Chicken pieces were small and aplenty, the rice is super spicy with a lot of pepper and I am sure for those having a cold or a stuffed nose, this would totally knock it out! J This dish could most probably be an acquired taste, I would know for sure once I try it again.
The service was efficient, not too chatty, but efficient and quick.
I saw a few more interesting items on the menu that I definitely would like to try real soon. I recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking to have Andhra food in this area.
Ambiance – 4.5/5
Quality – 4/5
Pricing – 4/5
Service – 3.5/5