One of my favourite foods is Indian. I have some great memories of ordering a takeaway on a grey, rainy day back in London and instantly cheering myself up with it! On one such grey and cold day this week I was walking past Jonny’s Dhaba in Santa Catalina, in Palma. I spontaneously decided to go in, to warm up my stomach and my soul.

I was greeted by Jonny, the owner, and as I was alone we chatted a bit throughout the meal. He told me that lived in Paris before, but has been here for about 15 years and ran this restaurant for 13. This is his one and only restaurant, he opens it every single day of the year and loves what he does. Jonny is originally from Punjab and the menu reflects that. He is cooking the same meals here in Palma as his ancestors cooked for generations back home.

I decided to go for Lamb Thali. Thali literally means a plate. According to The Story of Our Food by K. T. Achaya, in ancient India “food was eaten on disposable plates made of leaves, such as a large banana leaf, stitched-together dried banyan leaves, or leaves from palas trees”. Here, today, thali was a silver coloured metal plate, divided into several compartments.

A thali typically consists of: a grain (rice or flatbread made with wheat, millet, etc.), lentils (dhal or sambar), vegetables, chutney, raita (curds usually mixed with some kind of vegetable), pickles and sometimes papadum. The main dish on my plate was lamb curry and it was excellent. The meat came in small chunks, it was cooked well, it was really soft and there was plenty of it. You can choose your spice here, from mild to hot, for any dish you order. I went with medium, and it had a bigger kick than I expected, but not in a bad way. Just perhaps keep it in mind when choosing your preference.

Overall, the curry was very tasty and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The rest of the plate was made up of several spoonfuls of a very good dhal (mild lentil stew), one vegetable samosa and a decent portion of pilau rice. The pastry on the samosa was thicker than usual; it was filled with chunks of potatoes and peas and nicely spiced. The rice was cooked well. I liked the fact that it was sprinkled with cumin and a few green peas were thrown in for a burst of colour.

Jonny normally serves thali with chapati bread, but I chose plain “naan” instead. It was crunchy on the bottom and light and airy on the top, just as it should be. What I could not finish, I packed for a snack for later.

As I enjoyed my delicious meal, I observed the place and the people. It felt homely here. Bright white walls, shabby chic white chairs and cream tables are contrasted with brightly coloured Indian themed art. Scandinavian style lighting adds another dimension to the eclectic interior. The lunchtime crowd was a mixture of young expat families and friends or colleagues out on their break. I was curious about the name so I looked it up and found out that Dhaba was a typical roadside food stall in India. I also read that Jonny was famous for his rolls, made with one of the following meats: chicken, turkey, lamb, pork or prawns, and a selection of vegetables. I made a note to try one of those on my next visit.

For now, I fancied a desert. I was pretty full from the Thali, so I asked Jonny for something really small, and he suggested Gulab-yamun. This Punjab sweet looked like a mini doughnut or a pop tart, fried in oil and sweetened with sugar syrup. It is made with dough, in which its main ingredients are khoya (something like condensed milk) and maida (very finely milled white flour). A two-bite treat was just enough to satisfy my sugar craving and set me up for the rest of the day.


Lamb Thali 13.20€

Sparkling Water 3.50€

Gulab Jamun 1.00€

Total 17.70€


Jonny's Dhaba

Carrer de Sant Magi 66, Palma

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