`Baanali:' Meet Maredpally sisters whose `podis, pickles' tickle taste buds of Prabhas, Rajamouli

"We started `Baanali' with a mission to serve the original, healthy Andhra snacks, pickles, sweets, and podis to the current generation," Seeta said. "We understand that the younger generations have very little time on their hands. But, we do. So we're making the best of it to make healthy and tasty Andhra dishes," Usha added.

By Amrutha Kosuru  Published on  12 Feb 2022 6:28 AM GMT
`Baanali: Meet Maredpally sisters whose `podis, pickles tickle taste buds of Prabhas, Rajamouli

Hyderabad: Usha Penmetsa (61) and Datla Seeta Rajeshwari (62) had come to Hyderabad to live with their children a year ago. After hand-grinding some Andhra spices, they began making authentic Andhra Podis.

"My daughter generously mixed podi, rice, ghee and ate like a small child. I could tell that she missed this kind of food," Usha said.

Usha and Seeta realized that, in their family, several recipes of authentic Andhra food had not been passed on to their children.

"And same is the case with other families as well. We started `Baanali' with a mission to serve the original, healthy Andhra snacks, pickles, sweets, and podis to the current generation," Seeta said.

"We understand that the younger generations have very little time on their hands. But, we do. So we're making the best of it to make healthy and tasty Andhra dishes," Usha added.

Baanali (Telugu word for Kadai) was formed in April 2021. But it has already caught the eye of big celebrities like actor Prabhas, film director Rajamouli among others. "Actor Prabhas has ordered several times and he has our Chikkis as diet food at times," Usha recalled.


What began as a cloud kitchen in a house in Maredpally, Secunderabad only had pickles and podis slowly also added sweets and namkeens to their menu. Usha and Seeta are lost in their aromatic kitchen for hours together. While they do take a little help, the two sisters cook almost all the dishes on their menu with much energy. A prep time of 24-48 hours is taken by the sisters after they receive an order. "Once we get the order, we go buy the ingredients freshly," Seeta said.

From Potherekulu to Khajikayalu, all sweets are authentically made using a minimal amount of maida and zero preservatives. Similarly, their aromatic pickles- which are the perfect sidekicks to any Andhra dish, horde no preservatives. They also make chicken avakaya pickle, mutton avakaya pickle, fish and prawn pickle as well.

"All veg pickles can be stored for a year. But non-veg pickles only last for 2-3 months. If we use preservatives it will last more. But preservatives are not healthy at all," Seeta said. Seeta says that the key ingredient to keeping non-veg pickles fresh for the longest possible time is lemon juice. "This keeps the meat from spoiling," Seeta explained.


Andhra Food's Health Benefits:

Usha constantly urges her daughter to avoid eating junk food. She said the Andhra food- particularly podis' is a total game-changer. "It is not just that they are tasty. But they are extremely healthy as well. For example, Ulava podi helps in the proper functioning of the kidney. Karyapaku (Curry Leaves) podi helps strengthen hair and is good for the eyes and skin. Velluli Karam, which is an ultimate side-dish with Idly is extremely good for the heart," she said.

Usha said that with podi's it is not just about the ingredients that aid good health, but the precision and process that make it both healthy and tasty.

Another unique snack item that Baanali customers eat is Thotakura Fry. "It is one of our most loved items. To make 1 kilo of this dish, we use almost 2-3 kilos of raw Thotakura," Seeta said.


Seeta noted that their in-house specialty- Nuvvu Undalu, which they make with Nuvvulu, Bellam (jaggery), and homemade ghee are extremely good for the bones.

Seeta and Usha have promised to never compromise on the taste and quality of the food as well. "Many people think that healthy food is not tasty. That's not true. Andhra Podis is one of the tastiest dishes ever. And in fact, even Avakaya Pickle (which usually contains a lot of oil) is extremely healthy because of ingredients such as Mustard Powder, Garlic, and ginger," the sisters said.

Baanali takes extra precaution while packing their orders by donning hand gloves, face and hair masks. They also ensure that all the items, after packaging are sterilized thoroughly in a UV Sterilization chamber.

While Seeta and Usha handle everything from sourcing ingredients to cooking, on the digital front their orders are managed by different members of their family and friends. P Sudhakar, who is a family friend, majorly handles the job of taking the orders and their deliveries.

"Our entire daily life has been extremely supportive. R S Raju, our relative has played a major role. He motivated us to begin this business and to be independent," Usha said.

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