Eating out at Chennai – Part II

March 2, 2009 at 8:26 pm Leave a comment

Dosai - perfect proportion (Reduced portion though)

Dosai - perfect proportion (Reduced portion though)

I was introduced to Saravanabhavan – Parrys Corner in 1990 or 1989 I think as a hotel that served you colorful chutneys and a dosai whose quality was superior to the Udupi hotels in Parry’s corner that I was used to.

Almost twenty years later, I perceive the same quality and taste and cleanliness although the prices have gone up dramatically and serving sizes have come down.

First:  One of my favorites is the kaara dosai aka Mysore Masala Dosai (I respect this dosai and hence the uppercase lettering). This particular breed of dosais has a chilli powder paste applied to its interior and it comes either folded with masala in it, or it comes rolled in the form of a neat cone.

Obviously the geometric measurements have been done by the establishment to ensure that the rim of the cone fits into the area covered by the plate.  If you look carefully you will see the various concentric tiers on the dosai with progressively decreasing radii much like a gopuram.  If such a dosai was French, its vertex would probably have been decorated with a cherry or a buch of parsley.

Kaara dosai is off the menu at several Saravana Bhavans; but I found it served at the Annanagar Saravana Bhavan. I went upstairs on a Sunday afternoon to beat the crowd downstairs. But the first floor was equally crowded. It was the last half an hour of the daily lunch time.

I finally found a table that I had to share with a couple.  The couple seemed lost to the surroundings and were submerged in their own world as they ordered plate meals and devoured it.

I asked for Mysore Masala Dosai. The waiter corrected me and took an order of kaara dosai. I was promised a wait of 15 minutes.

To my delight, the dosai arrived in less than 10 minutes. (What efficiency!)

A white non-metallic plate with compartments.

Each compartment filled with a colored chutney. White, green, red and off white. And then one of the compartments was filled with sambar. And the dosai.

For an NRI that  lives in the Midwestern United States, and is served ‘dosaas’ in ‘udoopi’ ‘restaurants’, the Madras Saravana Bhavan dosai was heavenly and so were each of the chutneys.

I made the dosai last for a long time as I really enjoyed every bite of it.

Then I asked for tea, that was served in a glass cup with a saucer. You could refer to the tea as ‘tea payasam’ as it was made with creamy milk and was very rich.

The bill was cleared in no time and I walked out, a content person – into the busy thoroughfare of one of Annanagar’s main roads.

The paste on the inner side of the dosai makes a difference. So does the filling inside a pOLi – particularly the pudina pOLi or the masala pOLi, the southern avatar of the paratha. More on these in another post. There is still much to share about Saravana Bhavan.

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Entry filed under: India Nostalgia, Vegetarian Food. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

Recognizing Rahman Eating Out at Chennai Part III

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