Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Taste of Goodness - Cholayil Sanjeevanam


The ubiquitous Banana Leaf often sets the tone for the good times, albeit momentary, to follow. Your inspection normally includes checking for blemishes, holes and the occasional dead ant. And sometimes you plain don’t like the shade of green and request for a change to a more palatable green. But when was the last time you got a rainforest shade ‘elai’ with drops of dew of such amazing freshness that you almost head the gushing backwaters of Kerala? Never? Chances are you haven’t stumbled upon where I headed for lunch the other day. Cholayil Sanjeevanam.

Somebody once said, all things good in life are either too oily or married to someone else. While this is not a post to discuss the latter, the former isn’t definitely true. The eloquently laid out banana leaf sets the tone for the freshness to follow. For Indian food lovers, with food necessarily cooked the traditional way, Sanjeevanam is a place you would like to visit. And if you thought it was the healthy consumption that mattered, wait till they show you the order in which you ought to consume them.

We settled for the house specialty - Rajakeeyam.

So the feast starts with one small slice of a ripe Banana flavored with chopped coconut. It disappears no sooner than it appears. What follows next is an array of tequila pint sized glasses with 5 varieties of juices – Dates and Honey, Coconut, Beet Root, Mint and Rice Barn. Wait tell they arrange it in the manner in which you ought to consume them. The appetizer is followed with the first course of Puttu, Salad, and Radish in light watery gravy. This is followed up with – if I remember correctly – no less than 12 dishes of vegetables spanning Banana Stems, Carrots, Snake Gourd, Bitter Gourd, Beetroot, Turnip, Cabbage, Spinach, Okra and Radish among others. You may recollect everything your Mom’s forced you to eat while you were a kid, but refused to, and a lot more. Of course, regulation Rice – White and Brown – served with a rather hearty dash of Ghee along with a host of lentils and curd. You may go on with their bottomless servings to your heart’s content. You will have to excuse me here for not being able to recollect the majority of the EntrĂ©e’s here but what I do remember is the manner in which they serve you honey on your scooped palm. Lick up all the goodness and don’t hesitate to ask for more. I was a bit hesitant about the Fruity Pan but it was rather good. Oh btw, no potatoes for the entire course!

As you chomp away, you might notice how light you continue to feel in spite of the rather large helpings as against the conventional South Indian thali’s that fill you up from the moment you bite into that 23grams oil laden pappad. That's because they do away with oil. Completely. Yes! Its all steamed and you thought the world would end if OPEC ceased functioning. While I didn't quite play TT with my friend and colleague Saravanan with whom I dined and normally play post lunch (and get thrashed, but hey I'm learning) but I very well was in a position to do a fast jog. And I wouldn't like to attribute the mild hint of slumber that provoked me at 3.40 that day to my lunch.

Service is regulation and though they do not do ‘repeat’ as often I guess they could do. For some reason they served us water after we finished our meal. In hindsight, I reckon the dishes were well hydrated and we did not need the amount of water we normally consume while we eat. I’d say a 4/5.

More at:

Eat well,


PS - If you think the above options are a bit too healthy, you could always walk into KFC next door or Cream Centre down the road.

Thanks Sudha for reviewing my post and pointing out some of the finer aspects of Rajakeeyam that I missed.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Idly & Dosai

These days, the conversations surrounding ‘Idly & Dosai’ goes like this.

Me: “Hey, I went to Idly & Dosai”

Friend: “Oh, where did you eat”

Me: “I went 'to'  Idly & Dosai”

Friend: “Oh! You mean that’s the name of the place?”

Me: “Yes”

Friend: Yada yada (tell me more)

I chanced upon this joint a while back after the evening show of SDM. “Ah, another wanna be restaurant”. I assumed they were one of those guys charging INR 45 for a plate of idly’s. Post this I heard some great reviews about the place and chanced upon it while catching up with Pinky.  

How wrong I was.

Idly & Dosai is a great combination of semi-fine dining with the finger licking experience one wants to associate himself while relishing Rava Dosai and a tumbler of Sambar.

The designers have done a great job with this place. The Satyam multiplex never ceases to surprise and this place has done a nice job of holding on to the tradition.  The place is brightly lit and instantly cooks up a bright mood. The concierge’s do a good job of a warm welcome and seating you, help fully adding, “Sir, these are revolving chairs”. Once they usher you in, they leave you for a minute to catch your breath and soak in the place. The place is done up in a classic Black & White and all the specs compliment one another. The cutlery is contemporary stainless steel. Don’t miss the pictures of the idly’s in the wall depicting the different versions of the moon. Very neat.

They quickly fill up our glasses and stand by for the order. Wait a minute, where are the menu cards?

“Oh, here they are sir”. He flips out a paper book mark from his pocket and hands them over. Now, this is real neat. Their menu does not scream a plethora of options. The multiplex does, so I think they let saved the customers the angst of choosing what to go for.

The menu is a neat selection of Idly, Dosai, Pongal, Vadai and Aapam. That pretty much sums up the universe of South Indian Tiffin. And just behind the menu is the ‘selection side’ where you’re orders are ticked against. Now, I don’t know if this was some brilliant idea of their auditor (Kitchen Order Tickets are an important source of internal control in restaurants, remember?) or was a hand of a seasoned hotelier. Either ways, it was a neat mechanism of both the guests and the management keeping track of the flow of orders. And they tuck it neatly on the small menu holder in the table. 

So, we pretty much covered the entire menu. The kitchen is like a central open pit that epitomizes class as well as functionality. While you go ahead with your conversations you can hear the splash on the tava and you mentally tick off seconds before your orders arrive. For pongal of course, it’s the batch production system. They have it up and running for you in like 20 seconds. Dosai’s are regulation good. For the Appam with coconut milk they did what all big restaurants do. That is, over whelm you with cutlery. You have one plate with the appam, one glass jar with the milk and then another jar of sugar cubes and a tray with the spoons.

They also seemed to employ the ‘push marketing’ tactic very nicely. We had a dude hovering around with a bowl of Medu Vadas. His body language said it was complementary. But of course, you know what it was. Anyway, it could have been a tad crispier. The staff got a bit too friendly. One of them quipped “Okay.. you guys decide and then call me” Hello?!

Anyways, this is another fantastic grub+movie option and you need to worry no more if you want to tuck into a dosa before wanting to eat out of the movie studios. Good food, great ambience and good value for money.