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Cauliflower au gratin in a haveli

ARUN BHATIA


A view of the colourful interiors at Shiv Sagar.

GO UP a flight of stairs, just off the hubbub of Commercial Street, and Shiv Sagar transports you to the land of Rajasthan.

This restaurant which can seat about 120 people in all, comes alive with its walls painted with musicians from Rajasthan, the camels, fortresses, and intricately carved haveli dwellings.

One can hardly imagine that this fabulous interior decoration that takes you to Rajasthan, is just above the humdrum luggage, mattress, and tailor shops of Narayan Pillai Street.

The formidable menu offers South Indian dishes (served from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.) along with some intriguing innovations such as palak dosa and cheese paper masala dosa.

A part of the menu has light meals that include Mexican Pizza consisting of refined rajma beans with salsa sauce upon the toppings of cheese, capsicum or onion.

Its special pizza has olives and corn garnished with paprika and oregano. One could opt for herb and spinach pizza that is replete with mushroom, onion, and basil.

Young restaurateur Ram, who runs the show, could not leave out his "beloved Bombay specialities'' and so there is vada pav and pav bhaji, complete with Jain pav bhaji (that is without onion and garlic), masala pav bread chole, and tomato chaat.

Look closer and more innovations become obvious such as the grilled tomato toast omelette sandwich, in its bread section.

Shiv Sagar also has an extensive Chinese section on its menu. Chopsuey, chowmein and so on. If you fancy something off beat, you could choose Chinese bhel (although they have probably not heard of such a thing in China!). Palak soup and paneer tikka intriguingly appear among the Chinese items. And one would not be deprived of that ever popular Bangalore special — mushroom manchurian (pronounced "manjuri'' in namma Bengalooru).

While the usual noodle and rice dishes are available, the adventurous ones seeking new vistas, could try vegetable mongolian.

Apart from these, there is also a good selection of North Indian dishes to choose from. One can load up on daal fry, baingan bharta, or paneer kofta . The kadai items, such as daal bukhara or kadai mushroom, are cooked in onion, garlic, chillies, and ginger. Tandur is on offer in full range. You can choose from rotis to fancy Kashmiri naans, and many others priced in between. The restaurant uses Basmati for its rice items. One could order palak rice, combine it with vegetable balls in garlic sauce, and have Peking noodles with gravy.

Its juices, milk shakes, ice creams, kulfi, and falooda are made for those who come for a quick pick me up.

Among them is something called "gudbud" (which means "trouble" or "mess" in Hindi). It is a garishly colourful mixture of flavoured ice creams.

The menu also features Mexican items. Tacos, tortillas, burrotos, nachos enchiladas, and so on seem to be getting popular with Bangaloreans, even at medium priced vegetarian eateries such as Shiv Sagar.

If in season, seetaphal and lichee desserts can be ordered but even without those, the choice of desserts is wide. The fruit salad jelly with ice cream is a must try.

Shiv Sagar accepts credit cards. An average meal for two is priced at Rs. 150 (20 per cent more in the air-conditioned section). Shiv Sagar can be contacted on 5098892, 5353767.

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