How often have we not heard non-vegetarians crib about the lack of variety in the vegetarian cuisine – constantly branding it as "Ghas-poos"? Well, after a meal at the South Indies, even the most intractable of "pure" non-vegetarians would be forced to lick their fingers and then, eat some humble pie.
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South Indies is a part of a very small club of genuinely authentic restaurants in Bangalore and this is largely due to the entrepreneurial excellence of Managing Director, Vijay Abhimanyu and the culinary expertise of Master Chef and CEO, Venkatesh Bhat. In fact, barring the beverages and the usual spread of ice-cream, every single item on the menu adheres to the traditional South Indian style of cooking.
At a time when vegetarian cuisine has become synonymous with the holy trinity of "Idli-Vada-Dosa" (courtesy of the ubiquitous "Sagars" and "Darshinis"), the variety in the menu at South Indies comes across as a refreshing change. An interesting aspect of the menu is that every course is classified into four sections, one for the culinary repertoire of each of the four southern states (Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu). This gives diners the option of trying out each of these cuisines enabling them to appreciate the subtle differences between them.
To start off your meal, the Melagu – Tanni soup (also fashionably called ‘Muligatawny soup’ in some of the more occidental restaurants) invigorates your senses. The Anasapandu Chaaru combines the sweetness of pineapple and the spices of Andhra Pradesh to form a yummy concoction.
A wide array of starters like the Cauliflower bezule (Cauliflower marinated in Mangalroean masala), Vazhapoo (banana flower) cutlet and the podi (tiny) tossed idlis gets your tummy warmed up to the delicacies that lie ahead. The main course consists of a variety of gravy based dishes like the aromatic Kai kari stew (vegetables cooked in coconut milk), the tangy Mavinakkai menaskai (raw mangoes cooked in a sweet and sour gravy) and the spicy Vendakkai chettinad (ladies’ fingers cooked with shallots) and many more. The accompaniments largely consist of well known items like Neer dosa (thin rice based dosa), Idiappam (string hoppers) and Sajjige rotti (thick bread made up of semolina, coconut and curry leaves). There is however, a lack of variety in the rice items with the Madurai Naicker pulao being the only one that stands out.
Indiranagar outlet : South Indies, 840 A 100 feet Road, Indiranagar,
Infantry Road outlet: South Indies, 147, 4th floor of Chevron Hotel, Opp. Police Commissioner’s office, Infantry Road
All those of you who like preserving the best for last will not be disappointed as the wide array of sweets are delectable indeed. It would be a cardinal sin not to try out the Elaneer Payasam (tender coconut morsels in coconut milk with cardamom). The Ada Pradhaman (rice flakes and jaggery cooked with coconut milk) and the Kavana arisi halwa (wild rice cooked with sugar and ghee) are the other stand-out desserts. However, since pronouncing the names of these dishes could be a tongue twisting experience, a numbered menu is sorely missed.
The older South Indies restaurant is situated on the 100 Feet Road in Indiranagar. The chaos resulting from the Metro construction work nearby inconveniences the diners, but doesn’t deter them from flocking this restaurant – another reason to book your table in advance. Parking is a little difficult, but the valet service provided by the restaurant alleviates a lot of the misery. The décor here is chic but is not as exotic as their other outlet on Infantry road. Breakfast and Lunch buffet options (at Rs 175 and Rs 225 per head respectively) are available; but, these in no way compare to the variety offered in the a la carte mode of dining. This, for a couple, would tend you poorer by around 1000 bucks.
So, abandon the Idli-Vada-Dosa myth and head to the South Indies for a scrumptious tour of the mouth-watering dishes offered by the southern states of India. ⊕