India,  Overseas Eateries,  Tamil Nadu

South India Under One Roof

When I walked into Savya Rasa in Kotturpuram, Chennai, I was immediately impressed by the elegant décor and the cool flooring of Athangudi tiles from Chettinad. The restaurant exuded a cozy, traditional home feeling with its exquisite ornate pillars, wooden furniture, and captivating wall paintings. There were several rooms, each decorated with artifacts, paintings, and crafts representing the major culinary regions of South India: Mangaluru, Mysuru, Nellore, Kongunadu, Chettinad, and Malabar.

I was welcomed and entertained by Chef Sheik Mohideen, the brand chef, and Chef Prabhakaran, the Executive Chef. They gave me a mini tour of the restaurant, showcasing the various artifacts and themed rooms. I finally sat down in the Chettinad-themed room. As it was a hot day, I was served Nannari Sherbet with basil seeds, a refreshing traditional drink that cools down the system. The chefs took turns explaining how a team, including chefs, travelled to several regions in South India to learn recipes and cooking methods from local experts, grandmothers, and housewives to ensure the food at Savya Rasa is authentic.

The restaurant offers several set menus and à la carte dishes. I was recommended a Thali set, and the chefs put together tasting portions of some of the most popular dishes from the ala carte menu. Since the menu changes daily, I won’t describe all the dishes. The Thali set had extremely generous portions, balancing all the six tastes an Indian meal should have. It included a Malabar paratha. The menu had a balanced representation of dishes from the South Indian states, with complementary textures. I believe that apart from tasting good, food should also have textural differences, and Savya Rasa excelled in this aspect.

From the à la carte menu, I tasted the Pacha Masala Meen Varuval, a griddle-cooked fish with green masala. The fish was perfectly cooked and different from the usual red masala fish you find in most restaurants. The Neer Thosai was perfectly accompanied by Chicken Gassi, and I wished I had more space to try another piece of Neer Thosai. A bowl of Mutton Biryani was served with Coconut Raita, which was an eye-opener for me. The coconut raita is a delightful mix of cool, creamy, sweet, and slightly tangy flavours with a hint of spice, making it a perfect accompaniment to balance out the richer, spicier mutton biryani.

I was served a dessert platter with three memorable desserts. There was an inviting dollop of Kavuniarisi Halwa (black glutinous halwa). As someone born in Singapore, I had only eaten black glutinous rice in other forms, never as halwa. The halwa was rich with ghee and generously studded with cashew nuts. The Rava Thengai Paal Payasam, made of semolina and coconut milk, had a smooth texture. The highlight of the dessert platter was the Coconut Agar – boiled agar agar in coconut water with fresh shavings of tender coconut. Given the heat wave in India, this cooling dessert was the most appealing to me.

Overall, to taste all the delicacies from the different regions of Tamil Nadu, I must visit more than once. Perhaps the next time I am in Chennai, I will visit again. I enjoyed not only the food but also the hospitality of the staff.

Savya Rasa

2/10, Gandhi Mandapam Rd,

Chitra Nagar, Kotturpuram,

Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600085.