Did you dream of having authentic soft, porous mini Idlis merrily swimming in that tangy, spicy but delicious Sambar with a generous amount of ghee floating in that typical steel elliptical plate followed by a crispy, brownish, to die for masala dosa with a rich, frothy and falvoury 'filter caafee'? Given the fact that Indians are ardent food lovers, dreaming is not an amusement but did you dream eating all this in Paris? If you ask me..certainly not! In all my French classes it was only about Champs-Elyssee. Our French teacher never mentioned about Sarvanna Bhavan. For me France was about Baguettes, Croissants, Cheese and Wine but to be frank I fancy none of these. Thanks to our friends SA and KR for this info about Sarvanna Bhavan. Besides Eiffel, Louvre and many other beautiful places I was secretly looking forward to our visit to Sarvanna Bhavan. Nothing could budge me now...even a severe throat infection leading to swelling of vocal cords and temporary loss of voice. I was to travel but voiceless! Quiet and harrumphing the journey begins.
We landed in Paris - city of great history, city of sculptures and paintings and probably the most romantic city on the planet on 18th of June. Took a tram to reach the hotel and collected our room key and by the time we were actually settled, it was dinner time and so it had to be Sarvanna Bhavan. I had almost started visualizing Idli, Dosa etc etc but was hiding that from KS. Since we came to UK, one the most missed moments (as long as a decade but seems like moments) were our stay in 'Pune'. Everything in Pune was just so perfect and our never fading love for 'Wadeshwar'. There are loyalists who would get into an argument over food served at different food joints. Some belonged to 'Vaishali', some to 'Rupali' and some to 'Wadeshwar'. I never argued but 'Wadeshwar' was absolute for my taste buds. I was missing those Ghee Idlis, Set Dosas, Masala Dosa, Pesarattu and my all time fav. Walnut brownie with a slab of vanilla seved with hot chocolate in a cute little beaker.
As I was thinking about all of this, KS saw SB (Sarvanna Bhavan) on the opposite side of the road. A few minutes before I was missing Wadeshwar and now I couldn't wait to enter SB. By the looks it didn't appear as a very high class, fancy restautant but then who cares - food is what matters! A step in and the aroma of Dosa, Sambar and everything delicious mesmerized me. I squeezed KS's arms, harrumphed and whispered, "Can't wait for Masala Dosa" and he gave a smile to me and replied "Patience". The interiors weren't very great, minimal spent rather nothing spent. I was expecting something very classy with Indian art (elephants) but nothing of that sort. A bistro in UK has to meet the taste of customers and there is a decent effort put up to make it welcoming which was lacking here but it was packed with French, English and Indians. No one bothered about anything but food and this is how it has to be. After all I was here only for 'food'. It took us almost 10 minutes to find a place. Happily now I was looking out for the waiter to come. At last probably out of sympathy and pity a waiter was walking towards our table.
Waiter: Vannakam 'Amma'?
Me: Whispered 'Hello' and smiled
Waiter: with a strange look on his face (bends down)...Order ready?
Me (clearing my throat): Mini Idlis and Masala Dosa...
Waiter: With a sign language index finger on his ear and then with a thumbs up, moved his thumb which meant 'I can't hear you'
KS helped me and repeated my order.
Waiter noted down and grinned at his versatility of being able to converse with a 'dumb' customer.
It is very hard to be patient, calm when people on the table besides yours are happily hogging and you are waiting impatiently for your order to arrive. Finally the waiter came with my order and my heart was racing like a comet. Control Control and Control was what I was reminding myself! As soon as he kept it on our table I rubbed my palms and was ready. The Dosa was absolutely a delight. Idlis dipped in Sambar were amazing and I was satiated. To end it all filter coffee was a must...leaving a South Indian Resto without a Filter Coffee is a crime! I looked at the waiter and this time I pointed to 'filter coffee' printed in the menu card. He grinned and moved his hands on his throat and then made a zero by touching index finger and thumb while other three fingers spiked out which meant 'it's good for throat'. So now he knew that I had a throat problem. Before I could say something, he asked KS if I was dumb by birth or have recently lost my voice. I was shocked and KS couldn't stop laughing. He said to the waiter that it is an infection and I am on antibiotics. He smiled again which showed his appreciation that I was fine and left to get some coffee.
Finally our affair with the South Indian food was about to get over as it was time to leave. A lovely time spent, peaceful time for KS as I couldn't speak, delicious food and very Indian hospitability with satiated hearts, stomachs and taste buds we left 'Sarvanna Bhavan' which was a good omen for out further trip...promised to myself that I will visit again for sure!
Do you fancy dreaming about having your favourite food on the Eiffel? Then dare dreaming....everything is possible...Cheers!!!