As we walked down the beach, we suddenly noticed a glimmering heap far away on the road, shining & reflecting the hot summer sun, looking quite like a three dimensional mirage. As we moved closer, to our surprise, the mirage turned into a pile of possibly the world’s shiniest fish. The number of heaps kept increasing, as the air got thicker with the stench of Nethallu, possibly the tiniest fish in the world.
Nethallu is a salt water fish that is dried all along the beach, washed off its mud & then crispy fried post marination with imli, masala & a disproportionately high dose of chilli paste. I smelt spice again & the mouth watered just at the mention of it – tamarind made me gulp & masala, salivate!
Continuing on our trail & yearning for some authentic Andhraite coastal cuisine this time, we reached Dakshin – the restaurant of the Dasapalla Hotel. Despite being more famous for its thalis, we decided to concentrate only on non-vegetarian delicacies. All that we could read on the menu card were the protein headers & the list of preparations under each, looked completely Hebrew to us. We relied on the steward’s judgement & asked for the most authentic crab & mutton curries along with roti. May be an appam would have worked wonderfully well, but was promptly told off by the waiter as appam was a Keralite delicacy & we wouldn’t dare ask for it at an Andhraite restaurant! Please pardon – for Bengalis the world is divided only into two sections, Bengalis & Non-Bengalis & there can be no other classification beyond that!!
From the look of it, it was difficult to spot the Peethala Iguru (crab masala) from the Mamsam Sukka Varuval (mutton pepper fry), both dishes looking frightfully red – however, the taste explained it all – the only common factor across the two dishes being the fiery spice from freshly crushed pepper & the generous amount of curry leaves. Sniffing our way through, we licked off the last pieces, totally content & proud with our ability to successfully endure another round of spice.
Looking like Jim Carrey from The Mask, with our tongues rolling out from the immense heat, we drove to Kailash Giri, praying that the fresh air at the mountain top would help extinguish the steam that was blazing out of ours ears. A doddering cable car takes you all the way up to a park that has huge statues of Shiv-Parvati erected at one end & a tiny toy train doing the rounds of the mountain at the other. We were just in time to catch a gorgeous sunset & watch the bright orange sky turn into a dark violet against the panoramic view of the Vizag city.
When in Rome do as the Romans, but when in Vizag, do try the Andhraite version of the Chinese chilly chicken. No points for guessing where it stands on the spice scale – firstly the name itself has a ‘chilly’ in it & then it’s the Andhraite take on it. A few diced chicken pieces deep fried & then sautéed in a paste of red chilly with chopped green chillies on top (not to forget the curry leaves of course!), something that goes just perfectly with red wine or sangria. Sipping sangria on the beaches of Vizag, at the beach restaurant of Park Hotel (Bamboo Bay), we watched a Parkikrama show as we celebrated our 5 years of being the perfect partners – in life & travel.
When you walk down RK beach, you don’t expect to see cafes lined along the beach, like a Goa – however there was one such ‘Chocolate Room’ that did make an attempt to serve a wide range of chocolate inspired shakes, desserts & other snacks while over-looking the beach as the waves smashed across the sand onto the Dolphin Nose. Slightly derailed from the spice trail, this place was a welcome relief with their delicious & sinful milkshakes, which are easier to have with a spoon than a straw!
Meanwhile, in the old town of Vizag, it was a relaxed Sunday with the port taking a break from the weak long activities as the kids sang hymns far away at Ross Hill Church, a Greek inspired church overlooking the city. Serenity, peace & tranquil engulfed this area with the quaint little blue & white church atop the hill, standing as a protector of the Vizag port. The only part of the city that was buzzing with activity was the fish market along the port. Fish of all sizes, shapes, colours to choose from. Hold your breath if you want to walk through & negotiate hard to get a deal for the fresh catch of the day!