METRO PLUS

Cashew feast

For the love of khana Santosh Banjara's speciality dish, the vegetable biryani

For the love of khana Santosh Banjara's speciality dish, the vegetable biryani   | Photo Credit: Photo: Nagara Gopal

SUBHA VARNASI

Santosh Banjara, Banjara Hills

Plus: value for money

Minus: loud atmosphere

Food: 4.5/5

Ambience: 2.5/5

Located close to Pizza Hut, Road no. 12, Banjara Hills

S antosh Banjara, with its distinct disadvantage of being located in Banjara Hills where there is no dearth of star ho

tels, swanky restaurants and malls, still runs successfully because of the sheer quality of food it offers. This air-conditioned restaurant with a capacity of 160 offers only vegetarian food. Santosh Banjara also runs from Secunderabad and Abids and the eateries there are named Santosh Dhaba. The demand of the food in these dhabas led the restaurateur to open a branch in Banjara Hills recently.

Despite its elegant ambience, the restaurant is not able to shake off the image of a dhaba—right from the Bollywood numbers playing in the background to the erroneously-spelt names in the menu to the not very suave restaurant staff. Ignore the dhaba-like environment that exudes from the restaurant, and dig with gusto into the delightfully tantalizing taste offered in course after course.

Unlimited choices

It's a delight to open the menu card as you fight to choose from the mind-boggling range of varieties on offer—precisely 70 curries to choose from! The quality of food comes from the fact that the restaurant focuses only on Panjabi food— no frills like juices, beverages or sweets. Soups are priced between Rs.45 to 75 with the Talumein soup at Rs.75. It is a pleasure to sip on this scalding hot tomato-based soup served with shredded vegetables like capsicum, cabbage, carrots, cucumber and onion. It has a slight sour taste to it.

Do order the paneer sticks for starters. Paneer sticks, priced at Rs. 110, consist of thick pieces of paneer, capsicum, onion and tomato each cut into one inch squares. They are smeared with chaat masala, jeera powder and soya sauce, and shallow fried. These are then stacked with tooth picks running through and tossed together with lightly fried onions, sesame, chilli flakes and cashew. Cashew is something that you need to watch out for. Every dish has more than a generous offering of the ingredient. Only the soups seem to be spared from this calorie assault.

Amongst the main dishes, Santosh recommends Jil-Mil Paneer, a curry priced at Rs. 100 and consisting of onion, capsicum and paneer cooked in— hold-your breath—cashew paste! Added to this cashew gravy are chilli powder, chat masala and tomatoes. The Hyderabadi Biryani, at Rs.100 is a serving of aromatic rice cooked with spices and vegetables. The stuffed kulcha, priced at Rs. 40, is an offer of rotis of wheat flour stuffed with boiled potatoes, carrots and beans very finely chopped. And once the roti is rolled out—guess what— again studded with cashews, fried and served!

The restaurant also finds it advantage in running throughout the day from noon to 11.30 p.m. without a break. All portions served are ample and easily enough for two. The quality of food with its very reasonable pricing makes it a difficult proposition to resist. Set aside your calorie count and dig into this fare. Food for two is about Rs. 300-400. The restaurant also offers valet parking.

Santosh Banjara, Banjara HillsPlus: value for moneyMinus: loud atmosphereFood: 4.5/5Ambience: 2.5/5Located close to Pizza Hut,Road no. 12, Banjara Hills

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