Saturday, March 6, 2010

Veggie Nook: Santosh Castle

Santosh Castle in Abids, started quite recently on the 20th February is a pleasure to dine in. The subtly-lit interiors with instrumental music playing in the background, well-spaced tables and chairs, impeccable washrooms—all these add to the mood. The 80 seater air-conditioned restaurant situated on the first floor above Santosh Dhaba, caters to pure vegetarian fare.
The thickly-bound menu overwhelms you with the copiousness of pages to go through. Every section of food contains many selections and narrowing your choice is a tough challenge. The soups range from Rs 50 to 70 and have about 18 in all to select from. The appetizers, a total of 32 in number, vary from Rs. 80-120.
Amongst the starters, Paneer Majestic priced at Rs. 110 is a dry preparation of thin 2” long paneer sticks. This is lightly coated with maida and corn flour and deep-fried. This is tossed with sesame and cumin, curry leaves, thinly sliced fried onion, dry chillies, green chillies and some white pepper. It is a relatively oil-free preparation and the added ingredients add to its delectibitly.
Another entrée Paneer Malai Tikka priced at Rs.120 is quite delectable too. Plain one-inch square paneer pieces smeared with gram flour are pierced along with thin onion and tomato pieces and barbequed. The Malai Tikka derives its name from the paste of ginger- garlic and fresh cream that is alternately layered with the paneer, onion and tomato pieces. Once barbequed, the stacks are sautéed with cashew powder, green chili paste, pepper powder and cardamom powder. What also make these paneer preparations special is the fact that all paneer used is very soft and freshly-prepared.
The curries again offer a mind boggling selection of 70 curries. Amongst the curries, Dum Aloo priced at Rs.90 consists of large potato pieces deep-fried and mixed with a gravy of onion paste to which these condiments are added: red chilli powder, cumin powder, paste of ginger-garlic, cashew, sesame, watermelon seeds, chironji, poppy seeds and crushed coconut. Kajal Kofta a specialty claimed by Santosh consists of koftas prepared with boiled carrot, beans, potato, which are bound with corn flour and deep-fried. These are served with a gravy similar to Dum Aloo to which copious amount of fried cashew is added.
Another curry Haveli Paneer has the condiments of cashew, watermelon seeds, chironji, garlic- ginger paste and red chili powder added to tomato-onion based white gravy. This is quite delectable too.
16 varieties of Indian breads priced between Rs.10 to 40 are on offer. Some special ones are mentioned below: Garlic Nan, at Rs. 30 is the usual nan but with tiny garlic flecks which lend it a pungent taste. Baby Nan, another specialty is smeared with butter, grated paneer and grated carrots. Chatpata Nan is probably unique to this restaurant. It consist of nan covered with grated paneer, chilli powder and chat masala. This has a crunchy feel as you bite through. Stuffed kulcha at Rs.40 is something you find in any other restaurant and is stuffed with boiled potatoes, carrot and beans. Yet, what lends a unique taste to this preparation is the way it is thinly rolled out and is studded with plenty of cashews.
Amongst the 19 varities of rice, Shahi biryani stands out.

Pluses: All food is tasty
Minuses: Food is smothered in oil
Food: 3.5/5; Ambience: 3.5/5
Located in the lane to the right of Big Bazaar, Abids