A sabha hopper’s guide to good food

Not all rasikas heading to sabhas have music on their mind. There are some like me who are out to get a taste of the specialities at each sabha canteen. It’s exciting to overhear discussions on Keeravani and Abheri interspersed with keera vadai and adai aviayal.

Narada Gana Sabha

Gnanambika Caterers, who’ve put up a canteen at the sabha this season too, have been serving patrons for over two decades now. The decision to set up a canteen during the December Season was taken in ten minutes in 1990. “Haridas Giri who is our swamiji, was performing at Narada Gana Sabha and he was hungry. Our father was there and in 10 minutes he served him delicious khichdi. Swamiji called the secretary of the sabha and said, ‘let them have a canteen here during the music season’,” say the Jayaramans who own the business inform.

Season special: Seppankizhangu baath, karuveppilai sevai, adai and vaazhathandu morekootu, kuzhi paniyaram and ragi rava dosa.

The Music Academy

So what if margazhi isn’t a month of weddings? The canteen at the Academy, this year, helmed by Mint Padmanabhan wears a celebratory look, much like the dining area of a wedding hall. Complete with long tables and fresh light green and clean banana leaves. The wedding theme doesn’t end there and spills over to the food as well. The menu is based on kalyana saapad and changes everyday. You even spot parents of some brides-to-be talking anxiously to the caterers. White boards at the entrance of the canteen announce the day’s menu in detail — full meals, mini meals, sweet and kaaram varieties.

Season special: The menu changes everyday for ‘full meals’ as well as ‘mini meals’. The pineapple rasam is a highlight. Ribbon pakoda and thirattippal are worth a try.

Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

‘Mountbatten’ Mani Iyer’s Mount Mani Catering Service is back in business at the Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in Mylapore and is offering something for the young as well as the old. For the former, there’s food as varied as Chinese, chaat and chocolate dosa and for the latter, a traditional South Indian fare including over 20 varieties of dosas, paniyaram and appam. Season special: Neeravi dosa, vaazhapoo vada and aappam are big hits.