The still of the heat after the rains can drive one mad, and that was exactly what happened at home. ‘I need to go out for some fresh air,’ I fumed. ‘And its time to eat,’ was his quick response. Now we had to find a compromise…I know marriages are made of those situations when two vested interests are pulling in diagonally opposite directions.
‘Lucky him,’ I thought sourly, ‘those calories never ever think of staying on in his waistline.’ ‘So what do you suggest,’ I retorted…you see attack is the best form of defense. He looks at my face, sensing that I am in a combative mood… ‘lets see what the lovers at Dona Paula were up to,’ he smiles. Lovers? What has this got to do with food, I wonder. ‘The mausam needs some change,’ he says casually as we were driving, ‘and I need some Khana.’ He pauses to change gears. I look at him suspiciously. Mausam….was he commenting about the weather in the car? But before I could give a sharp retort he adds, ‘I know of a place on the Nadi ka Kinara, where I will get my Khana and you your Chanchal Hawa.’ Were the hunger pangs driving him loco? I had never ever heard him wax poetic before. But I got my answer when I saw the sign…Sea Pebbles…Bar and Restaurant…Mausam, Khana , Nadi ka Kinara , Chanchal Hawa.
I was about to tell him that originality was never his strong points when I stopped short. We had climbed up the steps and there in front of me was the wide expanse of water lapping against the rocks, the grotto of Dona Paula lush and green against the blue backdrop of sea and sky. Now who is waxing poetic!
We descend, reaching the gravelly and pebbly sands. The bar of the restaurant is encased in a grotto…but it is the view and the breeze even on a still afternoon that made me close my eyes in bliss.
We sit on the waterfront, Joe sipped as his chilled Beer as we wait for the order. I close my eyes and let the breeze waft about me. Idyllic! Yes that is the word. We nurse our drinks as the waiter brings in the starters. If you have time to spare…then drinks and starters are a must. You can feast on their hot favorites of Fish fingers with Tartare sauce, Crispy vegetables or try their kebabs… Fish Tikka, or Malai chicken kebabs. We decided to try something from their new menu…yes come October the menu changes. We ordered boneless Chilli chicken fry to complement the drinks. The spiced flavour of the onion, capsicum, coriander mix was excellent…goes down well with the drinks. The vegetarians need not worry. They have the Tawa Mushrooms Indian style to complement the chicken.
‘What is good here?’ I ask the waiter. ‘Our seafood,’ was the prompt reply. They have every variety of fish listed…even the Goan preparations. But I was in a mood for something more adventurous. I still cannot understand why the locals, after preparing an excellent Fish curry at home, will still insist on ordering it in a restaurant. So yours truly orderes a Chicken Handi and a Fish Masala with Naans. Sounds crazy doesn’t it. Joe true to form was with his Special Fish curry rice. I say special because one has a choice of fish….Pomfret, Chonak, Kingfish and it is accompanied with Kishmur and rice.
The portions are wholesome. ‘You will not share my Indian food,’ I taunt, ‘you have enough on your plate.’ But looking at the way I was attacking my meal with gusto…I promised myself that I would walk that evening for an extra fifteen minutes…he surreptitiously helped himself to the Indian food when I sat back to belch delicately, pretending to look out at the plane hovering above.
‘Hey, this is good,’ he retorts taking another helping. The rich gravy, garnished with cashewnuts and chopped eggs would tempt even a lesser man. ‘That dish is a real temptress,’ I remark looking at the grotto silhouetted in the afternoon sunlight. It seems that the chef has a remarkable hand with North Indian cuisine, besides the local Goan favorites.
Come October, there will be entertainment every evening, and special magic shows on select days. You would have to call Pramod to find out the day. He is the restaurant Manager there, and he vouches that the children would enjoy the Chinese preparations..Chilli chicken garlic rice or even the Sea pebble Special chicken.
Spooning tender coconut soufflé into my mouth, I am given to understand that a special Alaska Icecream will grace the menu. The kids will really have a ball.
The hours just flew by…and there was no magician that made it happen. It was the magic of the place. ‘Did you enjoy your Chanchal hawa,’ he laughs. Well I was not going to let him get in the last word. ‘It was parmanand..…now you can check the dictionary for the meaning,’ I retort. Eve always has to have the last word…ask Adam.