There are two superb Indian restaurants in Palma.
One is Basmati and the other is Baishaki in the Paseo Marítimo.
Shahin Awal was head cook at Baishaki before going on to open Basmati in a renovated old town house with lots of charisma in the centre of Palma.
Shahin has always specialised in two beautifully balanced tasting menus.
He has never done those Indian menus with up to 120 dishes or more.
Excellent and elegant are two words that nicely describe his cooking.
He shuns hot spices and his dishes are flavoured with aromatics imported from India.
But he is well aware that many people like a touch of hot spice with Indian food, so he puts a red hot chilli sauce on the table for customers to use at their discretion.
It’s too hot for me, but I always taste tiny speck with forkful of rice.
Shahin has started a menú el día for his regular customers who want a light meal at midday from Monday to Saturday.
The menú del día is for a minimum of two and consists of three appetisers, a choice of three meat dishes (one per person), a choice of three curries to share between two, a plain naan bread, dessert and a glass of wine.
Also on the table are three sauces: hot chilli, tamarind and a herby-citric one.
There is no choice of drink except wine or water and there will always be alternative veggie choices even if there is only one vegetarian in a group of three or more.
A vegetarian and a meat eater would have to order a vegetarian menú for two.
The day I went the three appetisers were a mixture of finely chopped aubergines with aromatic spices in a chickpea flour wrap, a lentils pakora and a lamb’s lettuce salad with an incredibly lovely dressing.
We then had a lamb shish kebab (a cylindrical piece of minced lamb) and chicken wings on a skewer. The curry to share could have been chicken, beef (ternera) or venison and our choice was beef because I haven’t had a beef curry for ages.
Dessert was unusual in that it was a very English parfait, a dish that must be a leftover from colonial days.
It has obviously been absorbed into Pakistani and Indian cooking because it is light and refreshing and fits very nicely into a spicy curry-based meal.
The dishes on this €16.50 menú del día are the same as those on the two elaborate tasting menus but in smaller portions and without the continuous serving of wine and water.
And it is served in the same dining room with its lovely Indian decor.
A meal at Basmati is always a gastronomic experience and in that sense the €16.50 menú del día is no different from the elaborate tasting manus.
I know of no €16.50 menú del día that is served in such a beautiful setting.
There were highlights throughout the meal, starting with the peshwari bread stuffed with chopped dried fruit that is lusciously soft and sweet.
Shahin’s peshwari is the best I’ve ever tasted and it’s well worth the €1 supplement.
The beef curry with its thick rich aromatic sauce and perfectly cooked basmati rice was an incredibly fine dish to find on a €16.50 menú del día.
Basmati, Calle Caro 7, Palma (off Avda Argentina). Tel:971-710387.
Open from Monday to Saturday for lunch and dinner and the €16.50 menú de día is served every day.
Basmati has a biggish dining room and there shouldn’t be any need to reserve a table.
But play safe and book for tasting menus for dinner on Fridays and Saturdays.
The bill for two is €33 but we ordered peshwari bread (Shahin’s is the best I have ever had) instead of the plain naan and it comes with a €1 supplement, so our bill came to €35. Great value for money.
It is one of the best menús del día I have come across.