hi INDiA Copyright 2022
In the Guntur chilli yard, trading, packaging, and exporting this lucrative produce is a century-old tradition, fuelled with pride and passion for the land and its culture. Chilli is dried in the hours just before sunset, while the skin is still fresh from plucking; this makes the product easier to store. Later, on the same day, based on the Scoville level—the measurement for heat and pungency—different varieties are separated and labelled for export all over the world. In the evening, in the kitchens that constitute the local gastronomy, the bright red skins of these peppers are crafted into exceptional cuisines, and contrary to popular opinion, often mild in taste.
Mirapakaya bajji is just one of the many foods associated with the region. Of course, this place, and neighbourhood townships like Prakasam can also add ulavacharu biryani, kara podi, gongura pachadi and kichdi-kabab to their list. Some local favourites have made their way abroad as well—Guntur-style Ambada Gosht is simmered in a coal-burning just a few blocks from Spencer Street in Manchester.
Read the full feature in the print edition of National Geographic Traveller India January-February 2022.