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Master Chef's food chronicles

Sakala Sankara, who is at the helm of affairs at the most popular south Indian fine dining restaurant Dakshin, ITC Kakatiya has just concluded the Hyderabad edition of – 'Master Chef Chronicles' where he curated authentic recipes of Rayalaseema, from Madanapalle in Chittoor district, to be more specific.

Sankara grew up in a village, 8 km away from the picturesque Madanapalle, with its Asia's largest tomato market, world famous sanatorium, the hill station Horsley Hills close by and some amazing culinary tradition passed down from one generation to another. Madanapalli is also the place where Ravindranath Tagore had written our National Anthem at BT College campus. Sankara's childhood memories include the taste of amazing dishes cooked in his mother's kitchen. At times he would try his hand at making these dishes. He remembers eating vankayaenduchapa – brinjal cooked with dry fish quite often. Dried sea food is a common feature in the district, evidently considering its distance from the sea. Yet another simple preparation that he fondly remembers is the Erragadda karam – onions cooked in tamarind and red chilli powder, which is still made during his visits home. "Its my favourite, and best had with chapati, hot rice or even Sangati (millet).

Sankar, who changed his name for numerology and other reasons came to Hyderabad after 10th and started working in smaller hotels even while studying Degree before joining ITC Kakatiya as Commi 3 He was 22 when he joined the hotel, and worked hard, and during those days there were long hours that would stretch into 15 and more hours. He literally learnt his way up to become the Master Chef. He trained under the legendary Chalapathi Rao – whom he refers to as 'Maa Guruvu Garu', a tough task master who would shy away from punishing even if his trainees err. "Working under him and senior chef KK Mani and experiencing the world of fine dining at ITC Kakatiya is what has moulded me, even today I do not miss an opportunity to thank them for who I am, shares Chef Sankara.

Always ready with a smile, and ever gracious chef Sankara's Master Chef Chronicles' menu uses local ingredients like ground masalas, Guntur chillis, sundried fish, roasted peanuts, country chicken, and locally produced millets. Featured on the menu are dishes like Tellagadda kodi charu, Natu Kodi vepudu, Perthi chikkudukaya thaalimpu, Batani urlagadda koora, Nookala Saddha Sangati and Gurramkonda vetamamsam pulao – vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes filled with flavours of the land.

Going back to his roots and exploring his mother's kitchen to extract from her the recipes of his favourite dishes, Chef Sankara created a menu with which he will now be travelling to Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai as a part of the promotion.

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