What would it be if there was one kind of cuisine that you could eat for the rest of your life? It’s South Indian food for me. That fluffiness of soft idlis, the crispy dosas and the rich coconut chutney – just thinking about it has me drooling. But when I visited Southern Basil in Hotel Fidalgo, I realised there is so much more to South Indian cuisine than just idlis and dosas. After having a delicious meal at this restaurant, my love for South Indian food was further cemented. It may seem odd to some readers that I am fanboying over South Indian cuisine while in Goa, but when you visit Southern Basil, you’ll know exactly what I am talking about.
Southern Basil is a newly opened South Indian restaurant which is a part of the Hotel Fidalgo in Panjim. You can find all the goodness and richness of authentic South Indian Cuisine at Southern Basil. The restaurant serves dishes from all over South India with delicacies from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and more.
The menu is extensive and to say that you will be spoilt for choice is an understatement. But that’s not all – they also offer some refreshing and flavourful cocktails that act as perfect accompaniments to your hearty meal. You’d be surprised by how well they pair with traditional south Indian fare ( See what I did there? ). If you’re intrigued by my culinary experience, keep reading.
When you enter Southern Basil, the aroma of fresh food wafting through the place will entice your senses. The décor is classy, done up beautifully in warm yellow tones, and exudes a soothing ambience. I started my meal with their signature cocktail – a cool and refreshing coconut basil martini.
For starters, I had the Appam and Mokkajonna Gaarelu from the vegetarian section of the menu and Chicken Ghee Roast and Crab Roast as non-vegetarian delicacies. The piping hot and soft appams and the mouthwatering chutney are a match made in heaven. Made from fermented rice and coconut milk, they are light and fluffy and make you feel as if you can keep eating them forever. The Chicken Ghee Roast was my personal favourite – a popular dish from Karnataka that tantalises your taste buds. It is cooked in generous amounts of ghee and roasted spices and bursts with flavour with every bite you take. If you have never tried Chicken Ghee Roast in your life, visit Southern Basil for this fiery dish.
Next in line was the stuffed crab roast, a seafood speciality cooked in a traditional Kerala way. The tender meat marinated with aromatic and flavorful spices brings out its rich flavours and is nothing short of a treat to your taste buds. I also tried the Mokkajonna Gaarelu, a vegetarian dish with crispy coated corn tossed with colourful bell peppers and chef-special spices. It is a must-try item if you’re a vegetarian.
If you’re looking for something light, healthy, yet equally delicious, the menu features other South Indian Staples such as Neer dosa, Kuzhi Paniyaram and Putthu with Kadla Curry.
With promising and delicious starters in my tummy, I had high hopes for the main dishes, and Southern Basil surpassed my expectations. I had their Mutton Kara Sukha and Kerala Style Paratha, and I was licking my fingers when I was done with it. Their flaky and soft Kerala-styled parathas paired perfectly with the delicious and spicy Mutton Kara Sukkha. The gravy was semi-dry and had hints of caramelised onions, spices like pepper and garam masala and the, of course, the staple -curry leaves. This delicious combination was truly soul-satisfying, and I am counting the days when I can return and have this again. Unfortunately, I was pretty full and needed some room for their desserts, so I could not try their highly recommended Meen Kozhambu –an Andhra-style steam Fish.
If you know anything about South Indians, you know how much they love their rice. This is reflected in the menu with a variety of rice dishes, from the rich bisibele bath – cooked with lentils, spices and loads of ghee to the comforting Thayir Sadam (curd rice). In addition, their Pulihora (Tamarind Rice) and Takkali Sadam ( Tomato Rice ) are simple yet extremely flavorful. The food here will make you feel full and satisfied without feeling too greasy or heavy. Their dishes are reminiscent of homemade recipes, and eating here will make you feel at home.
After relishing their main course, I went on to gorge on their delightful desserts. First, we tried the Payasam, a sweet dish prepared with coconut, jaggery and wheat. They have an extensive menu of payasam, and you can choose from Semiya, Ada, Bidi, Rice and Pallada. I also tried the rich and wholesome dessert Royal Kesari, which is essentially Rawa Halwa flavoured with saffron, loaded with dry fruits and nuts and garnished with a silver leaf for aesthetics.
Their dessert menu also features several varieties of ice creams for you to choose from.
What is a South Indian meal that does not end with filter coffee? A meal here is incomplete without swishing some filter coffee in their cute steel tumblers. So, in true South Indian fashion, I called for their Kerala-styled filter coffee to wash down my meal. The filter coffee is aromatic and rich in taste, making it the perfect full stop to a meal at Southern Basil. From delicious and wholesome food and delectable desserts to refreshing drinks, Southern Basil has much to boast about. It is the perfect place to visit for lunch or dinner with friends and family to feast on authentic South Indian cuisine. While you’re here, do not hesitate to ask for recommendations from the friendly staff, and I assure you won’t be disappointed. Of course, the cherry on the top is the prompt service and great hospitality, making it a truly memorable dining experience. Whether you like exploring new cuisines or are a fan of South Indian fare, Southern Basil is a must-try restaurant in the heart of the Panjim City in Goa.