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May 10, 2014 09:01 AM

Saravana Bhavan - Any opinions about the food?

There is a location in Scarborough and in Mississauga

See the article in the New York Times 7MAY14

Masala Dosa to Die For

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  1. My fav dosa place in Toronto. But I prefer their international chains better. Spicier and more variety (In Ontario, I've only tried the one in Scarborough).

    1. Decent South Indian food, worthy of a visit but perhaps not a detour. Guru Lukshmi has my favourite dosas and is worthy of a detour IMO (provided you love dosas).

      1. I went on Sunday for the lunch buffet. I forgot that this Sunday was different from all the other Sundays of the year. It was Mother's Day ($13.99, $1 extra) and there was a lineup. A small table would have been impossible to find for hours . I avoided the lineup by finding a couple of chairs in the hall.

        The cooking must be authentic Indian- I was the only paleface in the place and it was overflowing. Indian, even though the food was a new experience. What was new was that the dishes didn't have that much violence and contained minimal oil. Significantly different from the food at any Indian or Pakistani place that I have gone to. I even liked a few items! Particularly the two potato dishes: I am Polish.
        I exclude from the comparison Govinda's, in the Hare Krishna temple on Avenue Road, which is also vegetarian. But only when the American European Caucasian monk from North Carolinwho is in charge of the kitchen actually does the cooking. Then the food is beautiful by French standards. Anyway, back to Saravana Bhava. Eventhough I didn't have to fight the vegetarian cooking, like the owner of the empire (see NYT article), I too craved for carnal knowledge .

        The cooking was so eccentric for Indian cooking in my experience that I am prepared to think that it had come from a lost tribe of Israel that had ended up in the subcontinent. (a) The food was strictly dairy, (b) the potato and onion preparations were the best items, (c) a large hand washing station was part of the buffet serving area and (d) the ruler of the restaurant empire followed tradition and had carried on like King David with Bathsheva .

        The literature recognizes the Pashtans in Afghanistan and Pakistan as the best candidates for a lost tribe. I don't know what their cooking is like, other than that they keep some of the food rules, claiming to follow halal. A version of the hidden Jews of Portugal?

        Notwitstanding all the virtues of SB, it will be another year before I again succumb to the spell "All You Can Eat " of an Indian restaurant.

        6 Replies
        1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

          I stop in at Saravanaa Bhavan whenever work takes me out that way at lunch time. It is surprisingly mild, but you'll find a few hot dishes. South Indian food is, on the whole, hotter than North Indian, especially some of the condiments like green mango pickle; and the staple soup, sambar, can knock your socks off.

          I also like The Nilgiris. It's smaller and I think the food is a little less mass-produced and more refined.

          1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi


            Afghan Pathan cooking is probably best exemplified at Afghan grill or Bamiyan when ordering grilled foods.

            Pakistani Pathan cooking from Peshawer is a little more difficult to find in Toronto.

            Mixing milk and fish, is a definite no-no.
            But there is a prevalent use of yogurt in some dishes or as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

            And I have heard that Lost Tribe theory before as well, to be honest. There is some truth to it for sure.

            1. re: pakmode

              Pakmode, what is the objection to mixing fish and milk?
              Observant Jews don't mix fish with meat. The objection is undoubtedly from a time long after the northern tribes disappeared and more recently, from after the Roman occupation.
              The reason for the objection is unknown, it just is. My theory, knowing nothing , is that it was a reaction to the Romans. They used fish sauce as an all purpose condiment- the Roman ketchup.

              1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                I'm chiming in to note my several experiences at the Mississauga SB have all been positive. Slightly cafeteria style seating/room, but clean and relatively quick service. We usually go for the veg dosa and special dinner with some rava keysari for dessert. Sometimes adding tomato/onion/chili uttapam (and using the various dishes in the thali with the uttapam and/or dosa).

                Regarding fish and milk, from my knowledge this is not a widespread custom, and only some observant jews practice it. It's different from milk and meat ie. doesn't require a waiting period, and can be consumed in the same meal as long as it's a separate course and the cutlery/dishes are changed over etc.

                1. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                  To be honest, I think it was an Old Wives Tale. You don't mix milk and fish otherwise you get spots on your skin lol.

                  But I have heard one of my Pathan friends speak about their Great Grandmother having 2 separate kitchens.
                  So yea, it's definitely within the realm of possibility VVM.

              2. re: Vinnie Vidimangi

                I stopped there this Sunday too after reading that article!! Unfortunately, too packed (all I wanted was a bit of takeout), but I'll go some other timel It was a bit smaller than I imagined it would be.

              3. We live much closer to Gerrard & Coxwell, but I've been out there a few times, either meeting friends or when I have an appointment in Mississauga. I like the food. We're just about always the only non-SE Asians in the place, but the dosas are great and the service is good.