One may question the freshness of 'authentic coastal cuisine' sitting in the land-locked Delhi and learn few new things. First thing I learned was that the good folks at Sana-di-ge bring fresh sea-food all the way from Mangalore every day. Second, that Sana-di-ge in the Tulu dialect (one of the spoken Dravidian languages) means brass lamp. So after a very brief introduction to things coastal, it was time to try their food.
It is natural to think of crustaceans, fish, molluscs and cephalopods when we talk about coastal food. But I believe it is more about the spices, the main reason behind that soulful, tantalising flavour and aroma of the food here. For appetizers, we started off with a very palatable dish of mushroom pepper fry—touch of black pepper and curry leaves. With that I ended my vegetarian picks.
Sana-di-ge took brass and being authentic to a new level—from its name to the utensils used. I must add, food served in brass plates lined with banana leaf just makes one’s dining experience so much fun. I was there to try out some coastal food so I called for some butter pepper garlic yetti (prawn). An instant favourite, that one. I thought the tawa fry maanji (pomfret) could see a tad less of salt. Otherwise, perfectly cooked in Mangalorean spices, the pomfret held its tangy end very well.
If you are not much of a fan of sea food, you can safely go for mamsa pepper fry—succulent lamb cooked to perfection with the traditional Mangalorean spices and pepper. I am saying spices but in none of the dishes that I tried did I find any overpowering presence of any of the spices used. Or you can go for the very well-known Chicken Chettinad. Quick tip: The dish, notoriously believed to be very hot and spicy, is nothing of that sort. The secret behind a perfect preparation of this dish is the fine balance of the spices used.
It was suggested that I tried their neer dosa instead of the regular rice or roti to go with the main course. Neer dosa is an uncomplicated thin rice pancake that instantly reminded me of a softer and lighter version of our very own north Indian roomaali roti. It went very well with the house speciality, Mangalorean mutton curry—which was not very far from a curry version of mamsa pepper fry. But delicious nonetheless.
For me, the shelf life of crustaceans I eat matters, so it took me a while to call for my masala jenji (crab). What a good decision that was. To save me time I suppose, the crab came already dismantled, I only had to scoop out the sweet meat. The bed of thick spicy gravy complemented the perfectly cooked crab meat.
Sana-di-ge also has an elaborate bar menu, but I recommend the bar special Passionera, a vodka based cocktail of fresh passion fruit with apple and fresh raspberry; and mandarin & ginger mojito, a white rum-based cocktail with freshly muddled mandarin, ginger syrup, fresh lime and mint. They also have an impressive selection of international wines and other spirits.
Sana-di-ge brings to your plate flavours and aroma of the coastal belt of Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Kerala. In this coastal casual dining scene, you will find, what I can only describe as seaside soul food.
Meal for two: ?2,200 plus taxes (without alcohol)
Where: 22/48, Commercial Centre, Malcha Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
Time: 12 noon to 3:30pm, 7:30pm to 11:30pm
For reservations: 01140507777