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Friday, April 15, 2011

South Indian Vegetarian Man Takes Over World!

Exterior
"14 pieces mini ghee idlies"
(mini idlies immersed in sambar garnished with ghee)
Birds-eye view of South Indian thali. Counter-clockwise from 12 o'clock:
Pachadi (sour salad), Vatakhuzhambu, Poriyal (peas, cabbage, carrots, coconut),
sweet Pongal (rice, raisins, cardammon, rose water, nuts), lemon pickle, curd,
tomato Raita, chickpea Korma, Kootu with squash, Rasam (tomato-tamarind soup)
In middle: rice, papad and chappathi
Interior (5pm on a Thursday)
LOCATION: Saravanaa Bhavan, 81 Lexington Avenue (corner of 26th Street), New York
CATEGORY: South Indian, Vegetarian
DRINK: Water
WE THINK: This off-peak late lunch was our first dining experience at Hotel Saravanaa Bhavan, the South Indian vegetarian food empire that was founded in 1981 by the venerable Mr. P. Rajagopal (see photo here) and currently has 57 outlets across 11 countries. Impressive stuff. We ordered a starter of mini idlies which were authentically served in a shitty steel bowl by a grumpy waiter. They were delicious. We then had the South Indian thali which were also delicious and made us feel like we were back in South India (except that our food was not served on a banana leaf and there were no unlimited refills as is most often the case there). The rice and bread were not that great but with all those fantastic spicy/sour/pungent/tangy/tart/sweet flavours to dump on them, it didn't matter too much.
DID YOU KNOW? Saravanaa Bhavan does catering too. "For 100 persons to a maximum of 10,000 or above".

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