Eight of us met for a Leap Year Curry Brunch at Saravana Bhavan in Mountain View. This is a branch of what must be a very popular hotel and restaurant chain from south India. I say it must be very popular as evidenced by the number of people waiting out in the parking lot when we left.
We arrived at the restaurant around 11 am (opening time) in order to beat the crowds and be able to enjoy a couple of tables pushed together. We then proceeded to order a variety of dishes from the menu, all the while keeping the waiter jumping with our orders of mango lassis, Madras coffee, and milk tea.
Each diner was allocated several dishes upon which to report. Mine include the mango rice, parotta, and rava kesari. My notes are included below.
You'll probably see notes on:
Mini Ghee Idly and Mysore Bonda from the Yimster
Rava Kichadi and Masala Dosa from Hillary S.
Curd Vada, Curd Rice, and Gulab Jamun from Melanie Wong and her brother William
Dry Fruit Dosa, Tomato Onion Uttahapam (yum!), and Sambhar from Alexandra, her husband, and sister-in-law
We also ordered a Chappathi (canceled because it hadn't arrived by the end of the meal) and a double of the Saravana special meal (thali) -- not sure if someone took notes on this.
The mango rice was a special rice of the day. It was something of an odd dish, because although the chunks of mango were quite visible, they didn't seem to add any flavor. Instead it just seemed like rice with some curry sauce mixed in. The mild curry sauce was complimented by a mild mint sauce that came with several of the dishes.
The parotta was a many layered, pan-fried bread reminiscent of Chinese "hand-pulled pancakes" (shou zhua bing). Melanie related that the Chinese bread had its origin in the Indian. It wasn't oily, but was more roti like. Along with the parotta came a vegetable curry and potato filling that was probably the same as the one that came with the masala dosa.
Finally, the rava kesari was a dessert item described on the menu as being like sweetened cream of wheat with nuts and raisins in it. This dessert was granualar, gelationous, and a vibrant orange color (don't know what supplied that). I didn't find any nuts, but saw sultanas sprinkled throughout. Not too sweet, it had a faint taste of spice to it -- perhaps cardamom? It was a good foil to some of the spicier curries and chutneys that had come before it.
In any case, a good time and good meal was had by all. We had more food than we could consume, and the damage was $16/person including tax and tip.
I'm sure others will chime in with their opinions.