Dining Experience@Savya Rasa (Pune)-11-June-2016

My wife said, ‘We should try this restaurant “Savya Rasa” that specializes in authentic South Indian food’.

Like everyone else, Idli, Dosa, Sambhar, Rasam etc. crossed my imagination with the word South Indian food. Reluctantly, I said, ‘What is this strange name? Can we try some other options as I am in no mood to have such food today’?

My wife replied, ‘Savya Rasa means “Flavors of the South”. Trust me, let’s go to this restaurant for Lunch’.

There you go (after all, you can’t win over wives), the valet parked the car for us & we moved towards the entrance of the restaurant with my skeptical thoughts of having south Indian food on a beautiful, cloudy Saturday afternoon.

With each step, I started to observe the surroundings & I must admit that the entrance was very rustic, infusing a significant amount of curiosity in me to explore more about this place.

Entrance

Upon entering Savya Rasa, I got a very warm feeling as if I entered someone’s home. The decor, the door, the pillars, the artwork on the walls, the treasure boxes etc. were done in lines with very ancestral South Indian houses. There was a very peculiar aroma of spices with soft Carnatic music in the background that immediately soothed our senses. The staff was wearing the time-honored South Indian attire, a white dhoti & white shirt. I believe that the management has gone all out to create a warm ambiance, which only adds to the genuineness & the wonderful first impression you create.

Decor

By now my prejudices had started to diminish a little & I couldn’t stop myself from saying, ‘I am liking this place’.

After being seated & offered hot towels, we were asked for the type of flavored water. The best was Khas amongst Jeera & Tulsi as other options.  We were then offered the welcome drink – Rasam with traditional Papads. It was very refreshing & one of the best Rasams I’ve ever had. I really liked the tinge of tamarind flavor in it.

Rasam

Now was the time to decide the food from the wide of range of options that came from 4 different states of South India. The extensive menu had so much to offer, making you want to try everything. We zeroed on ‘Koon Ularthiyathu’ (mushroom preparation) from Kerela’s Nasrani region as starter for a very simple reason that we were inquisitive to try mushrooms in authentic south Indian style. And it didn’t disappoint at all. The hot & spicy preparation was well blended with crushed pepper, cumin, coconut, onions & curry leaves.

Starter

For main course, we opted for:

‘Bun Parota’ (A fluffy multi-layered paratha) from Tamil Nadu’s Kongunadu region.

‘Idiyappa Idly’ (Steamed idlis made from vermicelli) from Tamil Nadu’s Chettinad region.

‘Gutti Venkaya Masala’ (Baby aubergines stuffed with dry roasted & powdered spices) from Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore region.

We wanted to try ‘Nei Choru’ aka ghee rice from Kerela’s Malabar region however the portion size of the ordered food was quite generous. Unfortunately we had to let go off it for the next time.

All the dishes were good in eye appeal, cooked to perfection & of course, delicious. It amazed us further to know that all spices used in the food were brought from various regions spread across 4 southern states. Now that’s what I call as Authentic.

Meanwhile, my wife shared a glance with me & all I could say was, ‘hmmm….yummy’.

Bread   Curry

To keep the say going “There’s always some space for the dessert”, we tried the recommendation of our server ‘Karupatti Halwa’ (A melt in the mouth sweet made of palm sugar, rice flour, clarified butter garnished with cashew nuts/almonds). We were informed that this preparation takes nearly 5-6 hours to cook. It certainly deserved my 10/10 for its texture, flavors – especially ghee & taste.

Dessert

Last but not the least, South Indian meal is incomplete without coffee & I didn’t break this rule by ordering ‘Filter Kappi’ (Freshly roasted & grounded Arabica coffee beans brewed in a tamba (copper) vessel overnight). It was accompanied by 4 types of sweeteners – Refined, brown, coconut & palm sugar. We were given 4 separate teaspoons to try each to suit our palette; however, the recommendation from the staff was to have the coffee with either coconut or palm sugar.

Coffee  Sugar

Overall, great food, lovely ambiance & knowledgeable staff. Prices were a little heavy on pocket, so wait for the salary SMS before your visit.  🙂

This time my wife had a witty smile on her face that conveyed, ‘Wives are generally right & you should listen to them more often’.

This restaurant is a must try if you are in Pune. If you are from southern India, you’ll love it. If not, you’ll love it even more.

 

Song of the day_Lag Ja Gale_Lata Mangeshkar

 

Just when I got some ‘Me’ time, I tuned into Radio for a change. It was late in the night, 01:45 AM to be precise. In all honesty it is not late when you are a mother. So anyone who is looking for a reliable alarm can contact me… for I am usually up through the night 😉

Jokes apart, it’s at these wee hours that the radio stations play the best songs I believe. It was after, say more than a year that I heard this lovely tune, which made me jump with joy (luckily, not loud enough for the small bomb lying in a cot next to me to explode).

A song with such strong emotions conveyed so simply.

‘… Lag ja gale ke phir ye haseen raat ho na ho..

shayad  phir is janam mein mulaqaat ho na ho..

I don’t think anyone other than the Legend Lata Mangeshkar would have crooned it better. It’s true that we generally love a song for the memories that it takes us back to… and this one of course made me traverse the different lanes of my reminiscence to finally arrive at the time when I was first introduced to this classic melody. Those were the best days of my life.

Friends… an open terrace… cold breeze… deep talks… light music in the background… and this song.. WOW. Could we have asked for more? Such a night it was. Sometimes, we don’t really know when we are making memories. The moments, without announcing, become inseparable part of our hearts. All they leave us with is a sudden flashback where they rebound as immortal memories to do nothing but to make us sentimental… just like this one!

I am, without a doubt, in complete love with this song. Immediately, after the radio station played another song, I switched on to Youtube to hear it on a repeat mode. Don’t remember when I dozed off, nostalgically.

What beautiful lyrics –

‘…paas aaiye ki ham nahin aaenge baar-baar

baahen gale men daal ke ham ro le zaar-zaar

aankhon se phir ye pyaar ki barasaat ho na ho

shaayad phir is janam men mulaaqaat ho na ho…’!!!

A confession – I have been humming this song since the morning and need someone to help me take a diversion to a different tune!! Can you please ;)?

An infant on a road-trip

babys-first-road-trip

You will surely not be able to do this’ said some, while others restricted their feelings to just a mocking smile. Few said it was too early and some said it was criminal… All we wanted to do was go on a 12 hours road trip with our three months old daughter.

My husband and I are dauntless travelers or better would be to say that we have itchy feet every now and then. It had been 14 months since we explored a new destination and tasted different culture. Reason – we were pregnant. 14 months of our lives went in just talking about the baby’s arrival and to prepare ourselves for the new role. Post-delivery, it was all about getting adapted to the new life. Traveling was of course a forgotten plan for some time. As our daughter completed a couple of months we started talking about a vacation as our daily routine became vegetative to be honest. We weren’t surprised when our family and friends discouraged our audacity to travel anywhere in India by a car. But we were determined and decided to try the so called ‘challenging’ trip, which turned out to be one of the bests so far.

Just a little preparation, firmness and patience are all you need to make a road trip vacation a success. The mantra is simple: Baby’s comfort is directly proportional to a beautiful holiday. Want to know how? Here are the tips and tricks I followed:

  • Choose the right destination – With an infant, it becomes utmost important to choose the right destination for a vacation. It has to be a place where the family can relax and unwind the stress and tiredness. Selecting a city for that matter might not turn out to be a very good idea as there won’t be much to soothe the senses. The mountains can do wonders. However, the drive can be a little risky if the roads aren’t smooth and high altitude may cause breathing difficulties for the baby. Hence, a beach holiday would be my personal pick.

Destination

  • Put safety first – Do not even dream of hitting the highway with your loved one without a car seat. Be very cautious while selecting one. I understand that budgets are generally a constraint but we can save a few thousands elsewhere. Ensure you have fitted your car with a good quality, well-made car seat. I also used a good neck support to ensure baby’s comfort. It helped me continue my journey stress-free. Also, having a window shade (sun screen) will protect the baby from sun, which means a more comfortable journey for the baby and in turn happy you. It will help create a darker, nap inducing atmosphere for the little one (drivers please stay alert – It’s not for you 😉 )

Safety

Be firm for baby’s welfare – The child might cry when you place it in the car seat, especially if it’s his/her first exposure. Do not melt by their cry as safety is of utmost priority when it comes to our most priceless possession. It will be uncomfortable in the beginning but infants get adapted to everything very soon. Sit behind with your baby tucked into the car seat and try to talk and distract the little one. Honestly I didn’t even sit in the back seat. My daughter cried initially but soon fell asleep to the rhythmic motion of the car. I also ensured she stretched out straight in the back seat at equal intervals.

Be Firm

  • Pre-preparation – Pack the baby’s bag before you do yours, which means that spend thoughts in ensuring you keep all necessary stuff that your kid might need. Start preparing a list as soon as you book your holiday and keep adding to it as and when you remember something. I kept the baby’s bag ready a few days in advance, which helped me stay calm before we began our trip. It would be advisable to keep a diaper bag handy for obvious reasons. It should have the nitty-gritties like diapers, wipes, diaper sheet, disposable bag to store the soiled diapers, blanket and an extra pair of clothes.

baby-bag

  • Do not overdo – Please do not over pack baby’s stuff. Just keep the essentials. I did not pack toys, gym or any such things for the holiday. All I carried was her pram and carrycot. I wanted my daughter to see and experience new things. Trust me it worked. She was so engrossed looking around that she neither demanded attention nor any toy.

Overdo

  • Pack basic medicines – It’s OK to forget yours but it will be unforgiving if you don’t pack your child’s basic medication. I kept the first aid kit ready with crocin drops, colic aid, nasal drops and vomit/digestion drops. Luckily I returned without using any of these, but it’s always good to be prepared than regret. If possible, google some emergency numbers like that of close by hospital, pediatrician etc.

FirstAidFeeding essentials – Carry boiled water flask if the baby is on top feed. It would be advisable to pack a few bottles so that you don’t have to worry about sterilizing them. A feeding shawl is must if you are breast feeding. It helped a lot in my case. Sometimes we had to park amidst small towns, villages or the highway. Being properly covered boosted more confidence in me to feed my daughter without any conscious mind. Needless to say, wear front open tops.

Feeding Shawl

  • Carry nutritious food – It especially goes for the nursing mothers. Do not negotiate your dose of daily nutrition for anything. Pack healthy foods like sandwiches, fruits, nuts etc. to have them during and after the journey. Balance your holiday indulgence with dietary requirements to ensure you are nursing well.

dry-fruits-during-pregnancy

  • Tune the timings – Right from the time you leave for the holiday to the time you return, everything has to be tuned as per your baby’s routine. We left early morning so that my little one could sleep while we covered a several hundred kilometers. She woke up at her usual time for the feed. And almost during the entire journey, we stuck to her meal and sleep routine. For e.g. try to leave when the baby generally sleeps, take short breaks when it’s the baby’s playtime etc.

It's Tune Up Time

  • Follow baby’s routine – Do not play around much with the baby’s routine once you reach the destination. Do not let the holiday create a new schedule for the baby as it will be difficult to return to the previous one, once the holiday ends. We had our meals based on my daughter’s schedule. Trust me; following the timetable really helped me have a lovely vacation. Our timer used to start immediately after she was fed and all we knew was that we had a couple of hours for ourselves.

Schedule

  • Do not be over confident – Please do not stretch your driving limits. Stop when it doesn’t feel so comfortable. We did not exceed the speed limit of 80KM/Hr. and drove mostly in the second lane, just to be more cautious. A Moving ahead with a crying baby in the car can be dangerous as you would be distracted and nervous. Take the time to stop and calm your baby. Keep yourself well hydrated while driving, chew something or just sing songs. That helps keep your mind and mood active. Avoid late night drives. Let the day welcome your journey and keep the nights for rest and sleeps.

Drive Safe

  • Entertainment – I am sure your spouse and you will have your playlists ready for the journey. Do not ignore the lullabies/rhymes/baby friendly music for your little one. After all, everyone needs some entertainment on such a long journey 🙂

Rhyme

  • Be flexible – When traveling with the baby, even the best laid plans can be disrupted. Try to stay relaxed, accept changes and go with the flow. Remember, there is always a plan B.

FlexibleWord of caution: These tips and tricks worked well for me but at the end of the day, every child and its needs are different. So let the best fit for you.