Sankranti 2023: Garelu And Chicken Kura, The Andhra Festive Grub
Image Credit: Crispy garelus with chicken curry, MasalaKorb@Youtube

Makar Sankranti gets extravagant in the Telugu state of Andhra Pradesh. Observed as Sankranthi, it is a three-day-long celebration when the natives indulge in merriment, festive grubs and splurge on gorgeous fineries. No wonder it is referred to as Pedda Panduga or Big Festival in this state. As I have been staying in Visakhapatnam, it's a first-hand experience of how the time-tested traditions come alive during these four days. It goes without saying that traditional culinary fares dominate the food scene. While most of the grubs incline towards the vegetarian side, one day, it is all about feasting on non-vegetarian delicacies. And in the latter context, the mention of garelu (lentil fried dumplings) and natu kodi kura (country chicken curry) is a must. 

Three days of festivities

In Andhra Pradesh, Bhogi is the first day, and Sankranthi is the second. These two days witness several rituals steeped in traditions and delicious vegetarian and sweet delicacies. The third day of Makar Sankranti, known as Kanuma, is filled with rejoicing. In some regions, it is extended by a day; the fourth day is known as Mukkanuma. Kanuma is earmarked for devouring non-vegetarian preparations. 

Garelu, the famous Telugu fried lentil dumpling

A plate full of garelu and natu kodi kura, Image Source: MasalaKorb@Youtube

The traditional garelu is an integral part of any celebratory dinner. This hearty, crispy vada is a well-known breakfast staple when paired with sambar that is served hot and coconut chutney. Many enjoy eating it as a snack in the evening. It is made with soaked urad dal, that is pounded into a batter along with ginger. Addition of spices and herbs such as cumin seeds, chopped green chillies and onions, chopped fresh coriander leaves and curry leaves, suffuse flavours. However, relishing it with chicken curry is a typical Telugu rendition. An iconic dish from Andhra Pradesh is garelu with kodi kura. This combo is specially prepared on Kanuma, the third and final day of the three-day Sankranti festival.

Kanuma for garelu and kodi kura and non-veg fares

Cockbirds fights mark Sankranti in the villages. Tradition dictates that the loser of a fight surrenders their bird to the victor. The winner brings it home and prepares chicken curry with it. The chicken is eaten only on the third day of the event, also known as Kanuma.

Sankranti special garelu chicken curry, Image Source: MasalaKorb@Youtube

This day typically begins in Telugu homes with steaming hot garelu and natu kodi kura, or country chicken curry. The lunch also contains a variety of native, non-vegetarian dishes, including fish fry, royyalu or prawn fry, bommidala (eel fish) pulusu, kodi pulao, mutton fry and so on. Nowadays, many choose poultry because it is less expensive than country chicken.