Over the road from the Dr YSR Reddy ACA VSCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam there is a restaurant called Swagrama where we go for lunch. It is any restaurant in India, and the food is fabulous.
The stadium, which is home of the Andhra Cricket Association hosts international games (most recently India vs Sri Lanka) as well IPL, and it is our temporary office.
The menu could be from any restaurant in India or even any Indian restaurant outside India. During the days that we’ve made the restaurant our lunch canteen, we’ve had :
- Veg & non Veg Thali – a selection of ten different flavours.
- Palak Paneer (white tofu-like cheese with a spinach sauce)
- Butter chicken (twice – it is hard to resist)
- Marsala Chicken (also a favourite, quite spicy).
- Veg Biryani (rice with bits in it)
- Dahl – various
- Bread, flat – paratha, tomali roti or garlic naan. The former being my current oily preference.
Washed down with either a Thumbs Up or buttermilk.
It has unusually hipster décor. There are lava lamp shaped recessed fittings in the ceiling with shifting colours, and then there are the lime green blob shaped articulated light fittings that hang above the tables. With its matched with bamboo wallpaper and lime green leather covered chairs, Swagrama wouldn’t be out of place at any trendy café strip.
Cost. INR260 on average or roughly AUD5 / EU3.50
Back in Kolkata at Eden Gardens, the spiritual home of cricket in India (arguably) we more often than not eat lunch at the stadium canteen. It is different to Swagrama but equally successful in a culinary sense.
Each day we are told what’s on the menu and invariably it is :
- Fish curry, always river fish, not ocean fish. Try not to think of what else is in the river …
- Chicken curry
- Veg curry, sometimes with jackfruit sometimes with ladyfingers. Jackfruit is a very odd ingredient. Delicious but the first time I tried it I couldn’t work out if it was vegetable or an unknown meat.
- Dahl, yellow
- Rice, steamed
- Toast, lashings of butter and sprinkled with pepper.
Washed down with a Masala Thumbs Up, or chai.
The canteen guys are part of the stadium family. Staff walk in out of the kitchen, help themselves to chai, and mill outside leaning on the counter, swatting at flies and catching up on gossip. Kolkata is hot, and inside the kitchen it is even hotter. The men mostly cook proudly shirtless.
Cost: INR90 non veg or INR50 for veg and that my friends is VERY good value.
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