New Delhi, India
October 8, 2013
Beyond this dining area, a door leads out into a sort of wide verandah, with coir ropes wrapped around grey stone pillars, typical South Indian many-tiered brass lamps (though fitted with tiny electric lights) hanging from the ceiling more masks, and other traditional artefacts from the region - earthen waterpots, pottery, etc.This seemed to be the more popular part of the restaurant, and most of the tables were occupied. We, therefore, decided to sit here too.
Sana-di-ge's menu consists of a range of dishes, many of them seafood (in fact, they have a refrigerated display case containing lobster, crab, etc from which - if you want to choose your very own seafood - a waiter will bring it to you and you can give your go-ahead). On the menu are dishes from the state of Karnataka itself (of which Bangalore is the state capital), as also neighbouring states like Maharashtra, Kerala and Goa.
The person who'd recommended the restaurant had also told us that one of their best dishes was the kori ghee roast so we ordered that as a starter, followed by (for a main course) a Mangalore mutton curry and a vegetable stew, with fluffyappams. Although Sana-di-ge does serve alcohol, we passed this up (as well as the more predictable juices, aerated drinks and lemonade to settle for something a little more unusual: a soul kadi for me, and a elaneeru shunti nimbehanu for my husband.
So what were these drinks all about? (Mine arrived within a couple of minutes though my husband had to remind the waiter before his was served). Soul kadi is a savoury drink made of chilled buttermilk, flavoured with a little ginger, salt, and cumin (and possibly some more mild spices) - a delicious and refreshing drink, as was my husband's drink, which consisted of fresh coconut water flavoured with a squeeze of lime and the teensiest hint of ginger. Both fantastic.
The kori ghee roast is boneless chicken, marinated in a mix of spices and cooked (not really roasted, I think - it seemed more like pan fried) in ghee. While it tasted great (and with that distinctly rich warm aroma of ghee), it was rather too rich for our liking.
After our starters had been cleared away, our waiter came racing along with the main course, stew, curry and fresh appams. This was where we were to be impressed with Sana-di-ge's quality standards. A good appam is one that is soft and spongy in the centre and crisp, golden and lacy around the edges. To manage that the appam must be served as soon a soon as it's made. Our waiter, having discovered that the trainee who'd been entrusted the task of giving us fresh plates had slipped up and not yet brought the plates, left the curry and stew on our table and took the appams away to get fresh ones, while plates were brought and the curry and stew served.
While the chicken ghee roast may have been too rich for us, the main course was just right: the mutton curry (with bite-sized bits of mutton cooked in a spicy but not too hot gravy) was a good counterfoil to the mild, very fragrant vegetable stew - a combination of green beans, carrots, potatoes, etc, cooked in a gentle coconut milk gravy with whole black peppercorns being the only discernible spice. Perfect for anybody who can't tolerate much spice.
For dessert, both of us settled for local dishes: I ordered an elaneer payasam, while my husband ordered a raagi manni. The latter, a steamed pudding made of sweetened ragi (millet) flour flavoured with cardamom, tasted good but was a little too stodgy for my liking, even though some thinly sliced pears served on the side helped lighten the dish a bit. I far preferred the absolutely lovely elaneer payasam, strips of creamy tender coconut simmered in milk and served cold. It was all I like in a dessert: creamy but light, mildly sweetened, and with a faint fruitiness that was given a lovely textural contrast by the addition of some slivered almonds.
Our bill at Sana-di-ge was Rs 1998, including taxes and service charges. Expensive, but worth it.
From journal Eating and Sleeping in Bangalore