Vegetarian delights from a nonvegetarian perspective in Bahrain
By JOSHUA KARSTEN | Stars and Stripes | Published: May 23, 2019
Many of us have that one vegetarian friend who struggles with finding a meal on a menu. Difficult as it is to find affordable restaurants in Bahrain, why not try a cheaper, spicier alternative?
Saravana Bhavan is an international chain serving southern Indian vegetarian cuisine that has become my favorite breakfast spot in Salmaniya. One Bahraini dinar ($2.65) is more than enough to fill up on breads, curries and spiced tea.
Ask for the daily special, typically some type of bread with three or four vegetable curries to soak up. Or, politely ask the waiter what the family sitting next to you is eating.
I usually order karak, a spiced black tea mixed with sweet condensed milk. It’s served in two metal cups for you to pour the hot liquid back and forth to create a better froth.
A breakfast favorite called idli, a savory rice pastry served with curry, costs less than one dinar.
Many Indian restaurants do not translate items to English. For example, you will see the word “dal” on many food items, the word for lentils or beans. You can spend some time Googling aloo (potato), paneer (cheese) or bhindi (okra) before you decide, but the waiters are more than happy to explain the menu.
Several Indian vegetarian restaurants sprinkle the city, some fancy and some sketchy, but this one in particular may help you ease into an ethic restaurant that doesn’t have valet parking and high prices. The chain is breaking into Asian and European markets but is still a classic Bahraini favorite among the migrant population in Manama, many of whom are from southern India.
Indian cuisine can be broken into regional favorites, but many Indians from the southern provinces are vegetarian not by choice or fad, but because of their religion. Let’s just say that they have perfected meatless food over the generations.
I still enjoy burnt ends and burgers. But, for foodies and frugal eaters alike, southern India vegetarian is hearty, spicy and cheap. Word of mouth among servicemembers in Bahrain never fails to direct folks to popular brunches, watering holes and luxury hotels, but the small mom-and-pop eateries off the tourist path offer some delicious, cheaper options.
Location: Shop No. A-77, Building No.77, Road No.905, Block 309, Salmaniya, Bahrain. From the base, swing through Juffair and continue straight past the Gulf Hotel on Bani Otbah Ave. Cut through Shawarma Alley and turn right onto Shaikh Isa Avenue toward downtown. Drive about one kilometer until you see Concord International Hotel on your right. Saravana Bhavan is across the street on the left.
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Prices: Most menu items are less than 1BHD ($2.65) with the daily special meal going for 1.3BHD ($3.45).
Information: Tel: 17 24 5577, 17 24 5533