Its not just the New York Times that thinks this is traditional South Indian food at
its best. I have been to many restaurants serving South Indian cuisine in India and NJ and
this ranks among the tops.
As you enter the retaurant you will be transfered to the hospitality of a South Indian
household, thanks to the combination of the aroma and music. The hot, sweet and sour
flavours mixed with the aroma of sambar are divine. The music is enchanting and thankfully
traditional (no bollywood masala music here) ranging from classical Karnatak instrumental
to vocal. Upon being seated you are served "katoris" of rassam, which is just
spicy enough to give your throat a tingle.
For starters I recommed the idlis (steamed rice cakes), but then they are my favorites.
The menu includes traditional and contemporary appetizers such as vadas, samosas, etc.
There is no need to wash the food down because it is pleasurable to the palate and hence I
do not order soda or juice at Swagath. They do offer a variety of drinks. My wife's
favorite is "lassi" (buttermilk drink) spiced with a powder of cumin and
coriander seeds. All this appetizer talk must be whetting your appetite. So lets get to
the "meat and potatoes", shall we?
My all time favorite, and that of most people I know, is DOSA (rice crepes)! If you
think there is only one kind of dosa, i.e., masala dosa, Swagath will amaze you with its
umpteen (there are 10-12 actually) varieties of dosas: with masala or simply
"sada" (literally means plain), made with rava, with mysore powder (spicy stuff
- watch out tender tongues and stomachs), with onion, and any combinations thereof. If you
are a rava fan like me, you cannot enjoy it on the weekends. Rava dosas require a longer
prep time and is served during the week only, Fridays included. Other items on the menu
include uttapams, unique rice dishes and more.
Top this off with Mysore Coffee, folks! See you there.
Review by Rahul - Sept '99