A few of my friends got together to check out the Savya Rasa pop up restaurant menu that’s on at Batlivala &Khanabuoy until the end of July. After hearing snippets about their visit I called to make a reservation for lunch the next day.The voice at the other end asked if I wished to try the south Indian cuisine on offer or the restaurant’s regular parsi menu.I thought that was a good way of letting the chef know about the customer’s preference ahead of time.
On stepping out of the elevator we were greeted by a row of the delicate traditional south Indian thoranams made of tender coconut leaf fronds.The large picture window next to our table was similarly adorned.The instrumental music too with the unmistakable beats of the mridhangam matched the South Indian theme.
We were offered a choice between boiled jeera water or plain boiled water. My companions and I chose the former. The pale golden coloured water is known for it’s digestive properties and is very mild and does not in any way interfere with the taste of the food.
After a thorough scanning of the menu,we made a conscious choice to go with the unfamiliar rather than the tried and tested.Our all time favourites like bun parota and gola urandai were vetoed in favour of the beetroot gola urandai and neer dosai.
But first things first,the drink options sounded too delicious to pass up. We settled on a paanakam , rasatini (loved the name) and vasantha neer.While they were all equally delicious the rasatini was a clear winner and a must try. In simple terms it was a pineapple flavoured rasam encompassing the complexities of sweet,tangy and spicy.I loved the way a clear rim of orange floated over the vivid yellow liquid,like a thin film of pineapple-chilli oil infusion.The paanakam was light and sweet while the vasantha neer was refreshing with mint,honey and tender coconut shavings.
The beetroot gola urandai came with generous helpings of lime discs (My kind of chef!)The lime truly uplifts the sweetness of the beetroot spheres that were well seasoned and delicious.Next came the mutta chutney kebab (egg halves filled with a chutney stuffing)fried in batter,a bit low on salt but tasty nevertheless.The mutton pepper chops however had us downing a whole bottle of the flavoured jeera water as the masala was way too spicy for our palates.The chef was notified of our discomfort and he hastened to our table to enquire if he could make amends for the level of spice.
Considering we had the main course to get through we just requested them to make up a doggy bag of the leftover mutton.The neer dosa was served hot to our table along with a side of Pollachi Kari kozhambhu and Tamatar guddu pulusu ,each completely different in origin and taste.We had never before heard of the Pollachi mutton dish made with drumstick and brinjal and mentioned as a vellalar gounder speciality.The pieces of mutton were cooked to pull apart consistency in a gravy that was just right in terms of spice.Thankfully the chef had paid heed to our chilli tolerance levels.The red tomato gravy with it’s boiled eggs offered a great contrast both in terms of colour and taste.The soft, lacey neer dosa was just perfect to mop up both gravies.
The vetrilai poondu saadham came next with a side of coconut pachadi. Both were firsts for me.The mild coconut pachadi was the perfect foil for the intense taste of rice tossed with strips of vetrilai and generous amount of garlic cloves cooked to a burnished gold.It’s definitely one of those timeless combos that work well in terms of both nutrition and taste.
Those of us who enjoy the flavours of natural sugar will never refuse tasting a kavunarisi halwa or a panangkarupatti halwa. Both the desserts were served warm,the right halwa indulging temperature.The texture of the kavunarisi though more gelatinous than the whole grain version that I had eaten in the past was still delicious with it’s garnish of slivered almonds.The squares of panangkarupatti halwa were a little less sweeter and carried the unmistakable aroma and taste of the traditional palm jaggery.The green and white of the chopped pistachios and almonds complemented the taste by adding texture and vibrancy. While words like texture and colour have become a part of most food descriptions, I would like to mention to my readers that it is not intended here in any way to just verbally dress up the food but is true to the definition in the way the dish is savoured in it’s entirety ! We would not have been able to relish the second and third spoonfuls of this halwa if not for the crunch and nutty contrast of the pistachios and almonds.
The kavuni arisi halwa was much sweeter and maybe too sweet for some customers but as one of my friends recently pointed out to me, an Indian dessert is higher on sweetness simply to counter balance the effects of the foods that are high in spice. Put like that , I can’t really disagree. So at the end of the day the spice levels and sugar levels in a restaurant like this need to be at the discretion of the individual.
Uday Balaji ,the man in charge of operations spoke about strict adherence to quality standards.All the masalas are ground at a central kitchen to main a level of consistency.The ingredients are sourced keeping in mind ease of availability and seasonality which again will facilitate the standardization of the recipe.The cuisine at Savya Rasa is a melting pot of the variety of food unearthed due to extensive research done on the many communities that flourish in the South Of India.
Meal for 2- Rs.2000/
Open for lunch and dinner
The Savya Rasa pop up is on until the 31st july at;
Batlivala & Khanabhoy
# 122 , 4th floor Appusamy Naidu Layout,
For reservations call -4213459