The Onasadhya menu at Savya Rasa, Delhi, crafted by Chef Sheikh highlights the choicest South India flavours, courtesy carefully handpicked recipes. We walk you through our experience. Text and photographs by Anushka Goel
Walking into Savya Rasa at COMMONS (DLF Avenue’s dedicated dining zone) evokes a sense of festive cheer. The restaurant’s floral decorations, pookolam (rangoli), and tastefully painted walls remind me of a time when I was warmly welcomed into the home of an old neighbour to partake in their Onasadhya celebrations. The nuanced lighting of the space further adds to the feeling of warmth and sets the tone for the rest of my dining experience here.
Chef Rahul and Chef Sheikh welcome me, and over conversations, explain how the menu came into being. Chef Sheikh, who has curated the entire menu, says, “It’s a kind of a traditional Onam (that we have here). The flavours and colours of each dish are distinctive, and dishes that look similar have completely different flavours.” Chef Rahul adds, “The dishes we have are more specific to how Onam is celebrated in Kerala; we are trying to replicate the same Onam celebrations here.” The menu features dishes from chefs who hail from Trivandrum and the interior regions of Kerala.
The Onasadhya menu is essentially vegetarian, but the chefs do offer specific non-vegetarian dishes to discerning patrons. My meal begins with Sambharam or buttermilk. The delicately spiced drink is a welcome refreshment to beat the August heat. Accompanying it are Sharkara Varatti (raw banana chips coated with sugar syrup and jaggery), Upperi (sliced banana chips) and Chakka Chips (jackfruit chips). The Sharkara Varatti is unlike anything I’ve ever tried before (and no, it doesn’t taste like artificially dried fruit you get in the markets).
My server, Dinesh, explains that traditionally, the Onasadhya feast consists of around 28 to 62 dishes, eaten as soon as they are served, and the sabzis are not to be mixed with the rice when consumed.
Shortly after, I’m served Injipuli (ginger chutney), Manga Achar (mango pickle), Naranga Achar (lemon pickle), Pazham (banana), Mulaku Varuthathu (small red chilli) and Chammanthi (coconut chutney). Each condiment has a unique flavour to it. The Injipuli unleashes a delicate ginger flavour, balanced beautifully with hints of sweetness, while the Chammanthi (coconut chutney) is unlike any other coconut chutney I’ve ever tasted before.
Next on my banana leaf plate is a Parippu Vada (dal vada)–crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside. It pairs well with the chutneys. Then, I get some Pachadi (beetroot and cumin raita) and Kichadi (cucumber and mustard raita). Both are curd-based appetisers but house very unique flavours. Pachadi has a beautiful purple hue; I love the subtle undertone of cumin flavours. Also, Kichadi looks a little bland but its strong mustard flavour hits just the right notes.
Next in line are sabzis–Aviyal (a mix of seven vegetables), Thoran (shredded cabbage mixed with other vegetables), Mezhkkuperatti (long beans), Eriserry (red pumpkin and lobia), Puliserry (okra cooked in dahi), Kalan (a raw banana-based dish), Olan (white pumpkin and lobia), and Kootu Curry (yam, raw banana and black gram).
Each vegetable preparation stimulated our senses; if this is what it feels like to be in a food coma, I’m not complaining! Special mention for Puliserry–initially, I thought this dish may be slimy, but the crunchiness of okra coupled with the comforting sourness of curd unfurls a gamut of rich flavours. For non-vegetarian starters, Chef Sheikh recommends the Pallipalayam chicken–succulent, tender pieces of chicken flavoured with toasted coconut, chillies and cooked in coconut oil.
Next on my plate is Kuthari Choru (red rice), which Dinesh places in two small mounds. He tells me, this is to be eaten with two different curries that are about to be served on my plate–Paripppu Curry (dal) topped with a dollop of ghee on one mound, and some piping hot Sambhar on the second. I’m also served Pappadam (papad), which I crush on top of the rice and eat. In another serving of rice, I get to eat it with Rasam and Moru Kaichiyathu (kadhi), the last two savoury dishes on the thali. The kadhi has delicate flavours, and the Rasam packs a spicy punch.
Onasadhya desserts, Paalapradhaman (rice-based) and Pazhampradhaman (banana-based) are humble offerings. Paalapradhanam has rich coconut flavours and the tender bite of bananas in the Pazhampradhaman is just perfect. The meal ends with a sweet paan (betel leaf).
With a full stomach and an even fuller heart, I’m almost emotional as I leave Savya Rasa. The hospitality is unmatchable, and the entire experience has allowed me to reconnect with food.
When: August 13-15, 2021 and August 20-22, 2021, for lunch
Address: Shop no 242, First Floor, COMMONS – DLF Avenue, Saket, New Delhi – 110017
Cost for one: INR 1,200 ++ (approx.)
Phone: +91 99400 91899 (to pre-book your feast)