Indian cuisine is no stranger to the world. I have found Indian restaurants serving butter chicken, naan breads and pakodas in most parts of the world. However not many people realise that Indian cuisine is not all about curries. There is a vast difference between north Indian cuisine,South Indian cuisine and even coastal Indian cuisine.
Sydney is now home to undoubtedly the most popular South Indian restaurant chain, Saravanaa Bhavan. Founded in early 1980's in Chennai, India, the owner Mr. P Rajagopal started this humble restaurant which soon gained popularity and was known for the quality of it's good food and service. One restaurant leading to another, after 30 years the chain now boasts of over 60 restaurants in India and across many countries including, USA, Canada, France, Germany, Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE, UK and most recently Sydney, Australia.
With a grand opening on 18th Nov 2014, the restaurant is quietly boasting of a full house from 11:30 am when it opens till 10 pm at night each day. It is located at 99 Phillip Street, Paramatta, with a seating of about 170 people at this stage.
Dosa served with chutneys and sambhar at Saravanaa Bhavan
Vegetarian south Indian cuisine's most popular dish is perhaps the Dosa. Its a fermented crepe made from a batter of rice and lentils. Crisped to perfection and served with delectable chutneys and a lentil dip called sambhar, each mouthful will take you straight back to India. There are a number of dosa varieties (around 30 on the menu) each one suiting a different tastebud. The spicy ones (Kara dosa), the one with a potato filling (Masala Dosa), the mint or spinach filled dosas and the crispy ones (Paper dosa as it is called)
Another popular dish is the Idly. Idly is a steamed pancake made with a fermented batter and traditionally served with chutneys and sambhar. If you feel adventurous, try the Sambhar idly which is a bowl of hot sambhar and mini idlis floating in it, or Kaima idly which is a deep fried cripsy idly. Lip smackingly good.
Hang on, it's not over yet. The cuisine also has Vadas, deep fried lentil dish, rice dishes and a thali which is an Indian meal consisting of smaller portions of many dishes, letting you experience a number of flavours in one meal.
Finish it off with dessert like Rava kesari, a sweet semolina dish and don't miss the traditional Filter coffee.
In a chat with the owner, P.Shiva Kumar, he shares his excitement of the new Sydney venture. He is hands on in the kitchen ensuring that the quality of the food and service is not compromised in any manner. With such passion and dedication, it is not surprising that the restaurant chain has gained immense popularity in India and overseas. He says his next venture will be in Johannesburg, and we wish him all the very best.
P Shiva Kumar, Managing Director & CEO Saravana Bhavan