By Kuheli Bhattacharya Rane
Serendipity: The effect by which one accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate… especially while looking for something totally unrelated.
It was with such fortunate consequences that we stumbled upon a quaint little yellow and white house while visiting Mahalakshmi temple during Navratri. A simple sign board read Suwadik, and when we peeped in through the window, we saw a tastefully done Mario Miranda painting spanning an entire wall.
Vowing to come back and ‘check it out’ on another day we returned to Suwadik to find out that it was just 50 days old. A new restaurant in Panaji! Super! One just a mere hundred meters away from the Mahalakshmi temple, and across the road from Goenchin.
Ambience: done up in muted shades of tan and brown, the minimalistic décor allows the small restaurant to look uncluttered. The gorgeous Mario Miranda-inspired painting depicting scenes of dining on the shores of the Mandovi River holds centre stage. Done by Sachit Tari from Madkai, this was what had drawn us to the eatery at the first glance.
Food: Run by Keshav Nadkarni and his son Mandar, Suwadik is still on its way to finalising the final menu. They have a finite number of very promising dishes, which they are tweaking and adding to depending on the feedback from its patrons. Keshav Nadkarni has had a long association with the food and beverage industry and having helped others to set up restaurants decided to run the show himself this time. Mandar, trained as an engineer, found his passion in F & B business.
The menu at Suwadik is largely Goan and authentic homely flavours at that. The momos, however, though not strictly Goan in origin, are fast becoming one of their hottest selling steamed dumplings.
We began with their seafood stuffed ball, which was made of minced fish and spices rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. A classic party favourite, and one which my mom serves when special guest are coming, this combination of soft melt-in-your-mouth seafood covered in crunchy crispiness is fantastic.
The tisryanche dangar made of spiced clams and mashed potatoes rawa tava fried is again one of those dishes which finds its way on many a Sunday lunch table. The rava fry itself is a unique staple of Goa. The serving of mint chutney added the much needed freshness to the dish.
They also do all the fresh available catch of the day in various different masalas and fries – masala, butter garlic, rava, the works. They hope to add a tandoor soon thus expanding their culinary quest across Goa’s state borders.
The chicken suwadik style is another of their attempts at cross cultural cuisine with the chicken cooked with various belle peppers much like the kadai chicken. This is a dish which is in transition but nevertheless lip-smacking even in its current avatar.
The mackerel uddamethi was a fine balance of the bitterness of the methi and the creamy lentil texture of the curry. The sharp fishy flavours of the mackerel lift the dish. Hard to find such an authentic and quintessential Goan dish in most of the places serving Goan cuisine.
The star of the night was definitely the sungatache lonche or the prawn pickle which is finger-licking good. It’s spicy and sweet too, with the lingering sense of heat at the back of the palate making you reach for more. Sans any vinegar or preservative this pickle cannot be stored for long periods. Much is the shame because if these guys went into the pickle exporting business it may very well take over the market. I for one would like a daily supply of the pickle, may be have it by the jarful even.
The ever popular Goan thali is for lunch only.
They have a wide variety of sweet dishes and the Kokum sol kadi is a great one to wash it all down with. We tried the tavsali which was a semolina cake with cucumbers and jaggery served with cool vanilla ice-cream.
Suwadik is just the kind of cute authentic Goan eatery that one searches for on tourist websites and travel magazines. The fact that instead of being situated in the small by-lanes of an obscure verdant Goan village where it would be considered a ‘gem of a find’ it is situated in the bustling city of Panaji. Nevertheless it is still a great find.
Shortcomings: These guys had yet not got their liquor licence when we visited two weeks back and seeing how the average Goan loves his tipple it may be a concern. Credit cards were still not accepted at the time we visited.
Go here for: the sungtache lonche.
Food: 3.5 plates
Ambience: 3 plates
Service: 3 plates