The Basmati Indian restaurant in Calle Caro in Palma is extremely popular, but like many others, owner and chef, Shahin Awal has suffered from the coronavirus crisis and the restrictions imposed on the Hospitality Sector.
Shahin is originally from Bangladesh and has been living in Mallorca for 25 years. He opened Basmati in los Geranios in 2004 and the restaurant moved to Calle Carro in Palma in 2012.
Shahin's first love is cooking and his second love is collecting antiques. For the last 20 years he’s been buying select pieces from India and other Asian countries for his restaurant.
But because of the financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic he’s been forced to list more than 50 of his treasured antiques for sale on the Basmati Facebook page.
"It was a hard decision for me to make; I knew 5 months ago that I would have to do it, but I fought against the decision, because those objects are like my children,” he admits. "These antiques have helped me to turn this restaurant into a beautiful environment where people can disconnect.”
The oldest pieces area small 15th century Myanmar temple, and a pair of 16th century plow yokes which have been converted into shelves.
There are also mirrors, wooden horses, elephants, carved wooden benches and beautiful darwaja doors, including one from the 16th century.
“Darwajas are from the time of the maharajas and according to tradition they must be beautiful because they bring luck and create harmony in the home, which is why very poor people paint them on the walls,” explains Shahin Awal.
"For a small company like ours, it’s been very difficult, but in spite of everything we have never stopped helping children in Bangladesh so that they can go to school as well as people here in Palma who need food.”
Shahin says he would rather sell his antiques than ask his friends for money.
“When the times are bad, that’s when decisions have to be made, because then they come from the heart; when decisions are made in times of happiness they're not usually right. The daily struggle to survive pushes you to make good decisions,” he says.
Basmati offers a takeaway service and delivers the food to customers himself in special containers that keep the food hot.
“The goal is to take advantage of this crisis to improve things for the customers who are like my big family,” says Shahin.
According to a verse in the Basmati Menu:
”When you give, your wealth does not end. When you love, your heart never ends. When you smile, your life does not end. Everything you give you are earning.”