514B CMH Road, Indiranagar, Bangalore 560032
Meal for two:?Rs 1,000
It takes unassailable confidence and deep pockets to sell vegetarian south Indian food at upscale prices in the city. The people behind Rasa —the first outpost of the UK-based chain —obviously have both. Spread across an upper floor in a busy semi- commercial area, Rasa was woefully underoccupied on both our visits. Service was slow if amiable at dinner (a la carte) and at lunch only four set menus are available.
Each time, though, the food blew us away. Served in courses, the Super Set Lunch (Rs 300) opened with a selection of pappadams and pickles and continued with four curries (a Tamil sambar, Kerala-style aviyal, pachadi, thoran), rice and chapattis, winding up with a rice payasam. The portions were unlimited, the tastes impeccably balanced and the cooking was low on oil. This is food, I presume, one would grow up eating in a health-conscious south Indian household. We returned one evening to sample the more extensive dinner menu, starting with masala idlis (a potato mash embedded in rice idlis, Rs 195), and aubergine tikki (Rs 195), flat gram flour fritters that were incredibly light, especially after tissues had soaked up the excess oil. From the 10 ‘curries’ (Rs 250 each), we chose a mild, tangy beetroot and spinach curry in a yogurt base that countered the more emphatic tomato and black-eyed beans curry. As accompaniments, we chose appams (Rs 80; they could have been slightly more crisp) and, to conclude, the dry fruits-heavy kesaribath and the coconut milk-and-jaggery- based bamboo seed pudding (Rs 150 each). We didn’t go back for desserts, but for those of us not privileged to have south Indian grandmoms, the Rasa kitchen is the next best thing.