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Review: Vishu Sadhya at the Sanjeevanam Restaurant

I’ve not been to a lot of sadhya’s and until recently I didn’t even know what a sadhya meant but I do appreciate good food. So on Saturday when Che suggested we go out to lunch for a Vishu Sadhya there was no way I’d say no. A meal with 27 varieties of dishes is a treat for the tongue, especially when it’s an all-vegetarian fare!

The Sanjeevanam Restaurant in Koramangala (owned by the same guys who make the Medimix soap) was offering a special Vishu Sadya on 13th and 14th April, and we figured we’d beat the crowd and go on 13th. We’d never been to this restaurant before and this seemed like a good opportunity.

So what’s Vishu?
Vishu is a Hindu festival celebrated in Kerala usually in the second week of April. The occasion signifies the sun’s transit into the Meda Raasi (first zodiac sign) according to Indian astrological calculations, and represents the vernal equinox. “Vishu” in Sanskrit means “equal”. It is the start of the new year.
“Vishu” is celebrated with much fanfare and vigour. People wear new clothes, elders give money to youngsters and childern set off firecrackers as part of the celebration.It is also a day of feasting and the foods consist of equal proportions of salty, sweet, sour and bitter items.

And what does Sadhya mean?
Sadhya means banquet in Malayalam and is typically a feast of the people of Kerala. It is traditionally a vegetarian meal served on a banana leaf and can have about 24-28 dishes served as a single course.
The main dish is plain boiled rice, served along with other dishes collectively called Kootan which include curries like Parippu, Sambar, Rasam, Pulisseri and others like Kaalan, Avial, Thoran, Olan, Pachadi, Mango pickle, Naranga curry, as well as Papadum, Banana, plain Yogurt or Buttermilk, and plantain chips. The traditional dessert called Payasam served at the end of the meal is of many kinds and usually three or more are served. The meal may be followed by vettila murukkan, chewing of betel leaf with lime and arecanut. This helps digestion of the meal and also cleanses the palate.
The dishes are served on specific places on the banana leaf in specific order. For example, the pickles are served on the top left corner and the banana on the bottom left corner, which helps the waiters to easily identify and decide on offering additional servings. Some say the reason for including so many dishes in the Sadhya is to ensure that the diners will like at least two or three dishes.

The 27 Dishes Served
Below is the list of the different dishes on my leaf (/the ones I ate). I’ve tried to remember the order of serving and have even tried to find the traditional names. Please let me know if I’ve got it wrong, so I can correct it :)

1. Salt
2. Banana Chips (salty)
3. Banana Chunks (sweet)
4. Achaar – Mango Pickle
5. Achaar – Ginger Pickle
6. Achaar – Lime Pickle
7. Olan – Sliced pumpkin in coconut milk
8. Kaalan – Yam cooked with yogurt and coconut
9. Bittergourd Thoran – Sliced bittergourd cooked in a sauce
10. Aviyal – Mixed vegtables cooked in a coconut sauce
11. Vegetable Thoran – Sauted beans and carrots with grated coconut
12. Vegetable Thoran – Sauted cabbage with grated coconut
13. Pachadi – Pineapple and pumpkin
14. Kichadi – Yogurt and cucumber
15. Koottukari – banana or jackfruit in a coconut sauce
16. Pappadam
17. Boiled Rice
18. Parippu – A simple dal
19. More Kuzhambu – a curry made from yogurt
20. Buttermilk
21. Ada Pradhaman – Milk-cream payasam
22. Palada Pradhaman – Milk and rice payasam
23. Banana – as a finishing fruit
24. Vettila Murukkan – betel leaf/paan

There was also Sambhar, Rasam and Yogurt to be had with rice, but it was all too much and I had to skip these.

My Thoughts
I enjoyed the food. I am a non-vegetarian but being South Indian at heart I love good vegetarian food and this was a large spread of the good stuff. Tasty and cooked well the food was stored and served in simple clean home-style manner and the servers were attentive hosts always somewhere in the background ready to replenish the food on my leaf before I could ask. I had to stop them after a while, saying no-more with a sigh.

I’m looking forward to more sadhyas at the Sanjeevanam Restaurant. I hope that next time along with lunch they’ll offer a bed too; I’d like to complete the meal with a siesta!

Information Credit: Wikipedia

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