1 Saravanaa Bhavan is located at 81 Lexington Avenue - at the corner of 26th Street in Manhattan.
2 This corner restaurant is airy and spacious! These photos were taken towards the end of the lunch rush. During peak hours, this place is always bustling and there's often a wait to get in!
3 Saravana Bhavan is a chain of restaurants from Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu, South India.
4 Sophie is always excited to eat at Saravanaa Bhavan and she does so on a regular basis.
5 The menu - Sophie first discovered Saravanaa Bhavan on one of her excursions to New Delhi.
6 There is a wide selection of food, mainly all South Indian fare. However, recently, a few dishes from North India were added to the menu.
7 In India, stainless steel dinner ware is commonly used. And, in South India, food is also often served on a banana leaf.
8 This is Thali, a fantastic lunch special including chapati, basmati rice, and various curries and chutneys - sambar, rasam, kurma, poriyal, kootu, special kulambu, yogurt, papad, pickle, and sweet payasam and fruit salad. Yum!!!
9 Another view of this delicious medley
10 Scrumptious idli - steamed breads made from a fermented rice and lentil flour batter, served with sambar, a tomato curry, and coconut and cilantro chutneys.
11 One of Sophie's favorite choices - the Mini Tiffin, consisting of a mini masala dosa, mini idli in sambar, rava kichidi (made with sooji or farina and veggies), rava kesari (made also with farina), and chutneys.
12 Inside the masala dosa is a wonderful potato masala filling!
13 The mini idlis are served in the vegetable sambar.
14 A close up of rava kesari - A popular sweet in South India laced with cardamom - really good!!!
15 Also on the mini tiffin plate - the more savory rava kichidi
16 Rakes, one of the waiters, bringing out the impressive full-size masala dosa!
17 The masala dosa is accompanied with flavorful chutneys.
18 Inside that masala dosa are mildly spiced mashed potatoes with onion and peas.
19 This is a South Indian parotta, a specialty of Tamil Nadu. It is a griddle bread that is flaky, fluffy, and soft.
20 Look how the ribbons of parotta pull apart!
21 The parotta is served with a flavorful, mildly spiced vegetable curry.
22 And the same potato masala found inside the masala dosa.
23 It's challenging to fit all of these delicious servings on such small tables.
24 The traditional way to eat South Indian fare is with the hand - Dipping a piece of wafer-thin dosa into the sambar.
25 Mango lassi - a great yogurt-based drink flavored with mango pulp.
26 The gentlemen at the next table were visiting from New Delhi and they each ordered the masala dosa.
27 They were very impressed to see how thrilled Sophie and her lunch companions were over the food.
28 Sophie wanted to show you how a dosa is made and she asked the Tamil chef to demonstrate. A scoop of batter is quickly spread onto a hot griddle.
29 The thin layer of batter cooks very quickly.
30 It is then skillfully rolled up.
31 Look at the gorgeous color and the shine!
32 The hot dosa is carefully lifted and placed on a serving platter.
33 As you can see, it looks so large, but, because it's quite thin, a dosa is actually very small in volume.
34 Sophie also has a taste for South Indian coffee.
35 The coffee is brewed by pouring hot milk over a dense coffee decoction.
36 After sweetening according to taste, the coffee is mixed by pouring the drinking cup into the base cup.
37 This is done three or four times to get a very flavorful mixed coffee!
38 And also a nice coffee-flavored froth!