Eating canteen-style at Andhra Bhavan
by Annalisa Merelli
13 May 2009
Andhra Pradesh Bhawan Canteen 1, Ashok Vihar Adarsh Nagar, Delhi. Call (+91) 11-23387499.
Pretty much like everywhere else in the world, you can eat in all the most renewed restaurants in India and still somehow miss something essential of Indian culinary experience: the real deal.
Obviously you can help yourself to some street food, which by the way will not kill you, as every tiny bacteria is absolutely cooked to death, but there are more gourmet experiences which will make you feel like all but a tourist. One of those, if you are in Delhi, is the Andhra Bhawan Canteen. Specialized in food from, hard to guess, Andhra Pradesh, the canteen - meant to feed the government employee working in the State building - serves some of the most amazing Southern Indian food in the city.The first rule of the Andhra Bhawan is be fast. Order fast. Eat fast. Leave fast.
The second rule is: no sharing. Get your own thali, no poking in your friend's tray. Not that hungry? Bad call. You should be very, very hungry when you step in the canteen.
The third rule: no menu options. Actually, there is an option: vegetarian thali (100 Rs) or non-vegetarian (70 Rs extra). No offense to the vegetarian crowd, but if you don't get the mutton (everyday in the menu of the day), well, you're missing out. So much. In fact, that delicious little dish of mutton is enough to drive us up to the Andhra Bhawan all the way from South South Delhi, and we're a pretty lazy type, when it comes to lunch breaks.
Fourth rule: prepare for more. Refills (of everything but the meat) will come until you explode.
Fifth rule? Wash your hands. Very well. Did you really think they forgot giving you the cutlery, honey?
Now you're all set. Go ahead. It will take you about three seconds to understand why the canteen is so ridiculously packed. And why rule number one is so important: people don't like to wait around for slow chewer. Fast with that mutton!