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.