A magnificent Balaji statue, beautiful Kalamkari adorned walls, chettinad pillars and staff in mundus greet us as we step into newly launched South Indian vegetarian restaurant - Padmanabham. The 200-cover restaurant with its temple-like interiors replete with Mandala art brings to Delhi’s epicenter Janpath a whole new culinary experience. Padmanabham is not your run-of-the-mill dosa-idli quick service restaurant. It offers authentic flavors from South India covering all four states- Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu. The menu curated by veteran chef Bakshish Dean is elaborate and meticulously planned. When Chef Dean designs a menu he not just puts his research and experience into it but also his heart and soul. We started with Rasam, which was perfect for Delhi’s chilly weather. I was pleasantly surprised with the texture, flavors and presentation of idli dusted with gunpowder, Upma Vadai ( Upma and Medhu Vadai) and the quintessential Sambar Vadai. The sheer variety of dosas, idlis and uttapams is a delight for foodies. Sample this: The dosa list includes Chettinadu Mushroom Dosai ( with mushroom filling), Thoppi Dosai ( hat shaped and ideal for kids), Chalukya Dosai ( layered with spicy chili and gunpowder) besides the usual options. Similarly there is variety of of Idlis, Utthapams and Bhajjis ( fritters). There is also a Sixty Five Menu featuring the popular spicy Tamil recipe for mushrooms, paneer, cauliflower and potato. Mushroom 65…isn’t this place a paradise for vegetarians! Traditional cutlery, Dravidian decor and impeccable service enhance the experience. What marks Padmanabham’s blockbuster debut and makes it a ‘must visit’ restaurant is its ‘Bhojanam’- unlimited thali, with a rotating menu, served on Banana leaves. Priced at Rs 299, Bhojanam is a gastronomic delight and a royal affair with poppadum, banana, chips, chutney, pickles, four variety of vegetables, dal, sambhar, pullisery, red or white rice, rasam, buttermilk and dessert! Its not just the food, Bhojanam is served with lot of love and attention by servers who ensure that it is not just a satiating meal but a memorable one. Padmanabham employs chefs from various regions of South India, each specializing in cuisine of his state. The experience in entirety is a unique concept for Delhi diners. If you are not settling for Bhojanam, then you must try Panniyaram, Bhajji ( variety of fritters), Medhu vada, Kotthu Parota or Idiyappam - Kadala Curry. Don’t miss the desserts even if you don’t have a sweet tooth. The dessert menu features mouthwatering Sweet Pongal,variety of Payassam and Kesari Bhaath. Even with many vegetarian options, there is dearth of good vegetarian places in Delhi and with Padmanabham offering an elaborate menu I think I will be making several more visits to slowly try all the dishes. This is a family restaurant and the fact that my three year old loved his fix of idli and rasam makes this one my top choice.
Padmanabham: A Heaven For Yum South Indian Delicacies
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