Sarvana Bhavan

I get asked all the time – where do you go to get tasty, authentic Indian food?  So this post is devoted to one of my favorite Atlanta Indian spots, Sarvana Bhavan.  This is a vegetarian chain that originated in India but has locations all over the world.  The Atlanta outpost is located in a nondescript strip mall at the intersection of Lawrencville Highway and North Druid Hills Road.  The ambiance is pretty bare bones – think drop ceiling, fluorescent lighting and basic booths – but the food is spectacular.  Sarvana Bhavan specializes in South Indian fare although the menu includes some North Indian items as well.  When I go I stick to the South Indian stuff because those are the eats I can’t replicate in my own kitchen (at least not without a lot of time and effort)!  My go-to order (what is pictured above) is the onion rava masala dosa.  A dosa is a thin, crispy pancake made from a lentil and ground rice batter that is fermented.  It comes with three chutneys, typically creamy coconut, spicy cilantro, and slightly sweet tomato and some fiery sambar, a thin lentil and vegetable stew.  The dosa itself is studded with red onion and cashews and in the center is a hunk of mildly spiced potato filling.  A rava dosa is different from just a regular dosa because the batter includes semolina which gives it a more nubby texture – something that I adore.

I would have been happy ordering the same delectable onion rava masala dosa for all my days at Sarvana Bhanvan but luckily I happen to be good friends with a South Indian cuisine expert whose mother also happens be part owner of the joint.  So my friend, Aparna not only gets treated like royalty, she also knows the best things to order that I would NEVER find on the massive menu on my own.  Here are some of the hidden gems that she has helped me discover:

1. Kaima Idly:  These are small steamed, savory cakes made from a ground rice and lentil batter.  What sets them apart is after they are steamed they are flash fried and coated in a spicy red shell that is ridiculously good.  These are addictive and come with a cooling yogurt sauce that you will need for your tingling mouth.

2. Kuttu Parotta (also called mixed vegetable parotta):  This dish starts with a thin flatbread made from white flour that is cooked on a griddle and then shredded.  It is tossed in a pan with mixed veggies, a liberal does of clarified butter and some mild spices.  I was really surprised about this dish because it is so much greater than the sum of its parts.  And if you can’t finish the massive portion, it reheats beautifully.  This is pictured above in the top left corner.

A meal at SB would also not be complete without some of their strong, South Indian coffee.  I would recommend getting it less sweet unless you like your coffee to taste like simple syrup.  I am also partial to the medu vada, a fritter with a crispy outside and light, chewy interior. It has a slightly sour taste and pairs beautifully with coconut chutney.

If you have any ordering questions please drop me a note!  I am playing the single Mom this week since my hubby is out of the country for work and my time in the kitchen is limited.  Plus I am wrapping up a very exciting project about Atlanta restaurants that is keeping me incredibly busy (and slightly ravenous). More about that later.  I will be back next week with some new Indian recipes uncovered from the old files of Didu, my husband’s maternal grandmother.

Sarvana Bhavan
2179 Lawrenceville Highway
Decatur, GA 30033
(404) 636-4400

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