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Traditional festival, tasty dishes


BORED EATING the same type of South Indian food? Well, there is a welcome change. An exciting and elaborate rice festival at Panduranga restaurant at New Delhi's Satya Niketan is on these days. There is a word of caution, though. Don't expect any non-vegetarian dish, for, this is a pure vegetarian restaurant serving sumptuous vegetarian food.

For those who like mild spices in their food and are apprehensive about trying South Indian food on the presumption that the dishes would contain an overdose of chillies, the chefs - hailing from the coastal town of Mangalore - are careful not to be too generous with the spices.

Before serving the meal the waiter places a glass of freshly made buttermilk, with curry leaves floating in it, which give an enjoyable flavour to this appetiser. The best bet among the 12 different assortments of rice dishes - each plate costing Rs.35 - is the Venn Pongal, whose taste is better than it looks. A dash of spice is added to rice and green gram. Full of proteins the Venn Pongal is a nourishing meal. But those who want a wholesome meal go for Bisibele Bhath - tamarind, pulses and vegetables.

Mosuranna Plain special is curd rice with sprinkling of green chillies, ginger, nuts and fruit. Something close to lemon rice is Chitranna. It goes well with papadums and pachaddi.

Thengai rice is nothing but coconut rice and is refreshing. Puliyoagare is laced with tamarind.

A medium-sized glass of cold coffee complements the rice dishes. After the food, you could try the sweet dish Kesari Bhath. And if you want to savour more sweets, you could try Payasam, Holige and Mysore Pak in dessert. The restaurant also serves other South Indian delicacies like Idli, Dosa, Vada and Oothappams, all reasonably priced.

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