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The lightness of being

Kadalivanam, a new restaurant in Mogappair, scores on nutrition, hygiene, flavour and price



Kadalivanam: Natural way to health — Pic. by K. Pichumani

ALL WAS well with my world that morning till I settled with a cup of tea to leisurely read the newspaper. The lead on the day's pullout was about fitness with pictures of lasses in leotards. Poof! My warm glow was gone. After two iced doughnuts for dessert the night before and four deep-fried pooris for breakfast redemption seemed remote for me. This was when a visit to a health food restaurant began to look appealing. Chewing through various soy-in-disguise dishes and `sweets' that taste like cough syrup [thanks to sugar substitutes], I thought, would wash away the sins of doughnuts and pooris. It was with this masochistic frame of mind that I ended up in Kadalivanam (ph: 26243249), the restaurant of Cholayil Sanjeevanam, a natural life centre on the Thiruvalluvar Road, Mogappair.

The lightness of being is right there as you step into the restaurant itself.

There is light, plenty of it in the restaurant. The pretty cane furniture and muted colours are soothing. As it was lunch time, the options were few. So it was Rajakeeyam or royal meals (Rs.75) for me. There is also a Visishtam meals for Rs. 50.

It was a meal, nonpareil. It was not a mere experience, it was an education and most important, enjoyable. You begin with juice, not just one but five varieties — date, nuts extract, vegetable consommé, buttermilk and thick rice soup, served in that order. The order of serving and eating is important. Remember, here they are not merely feeding you, they also offer "to make you healthy and give you immense joy and satisfaction." Help is always at hand to guide one through the process of eating. This is another area where Kadalivanam scores. The service is excellent. You are briefed on what to expect and gently instructed on how to eat and even coaxed to finish the vegetables on your plantain leaf with explanations of how good they are for you!

Freshly cooked

I went through three courses of vegetables before my rice. The faintly sweet bran, coconut and jaggery mix and the banana pith patchadi or raita and the oil-vinegar free mango pickle were exceptional. The raw banana kootu and pavakkai patchadi too rose above the rest. It is the simplicity that strikes you. The food is made without sugar, maida, asafoetida, tamarind, red chilli, vinegar, onion and garlic and still tastes good! If that isn't impressive enough, only traditional brass, copper and mud utensils are used for cooking to retain flavour and food is served within three hours of preparation. In other words, cooked food never sees the inside of a refrigerator at all.

The restaurant has a juice counter that offers herbal, medicinal plant and fruit juices and milk shakes.

There was only one soy dish in the menu, the rest were all traditional South Indian items. Talk about rediscovering one's own backyard.

By the time the spoonful of honey after the payasam came, I was in a satvic-food-induced-elevated-state. The meagre bill expanded my serenity. How can you resist this comprehensive feel-good package?

MARIEN MATHEW

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