New Delhi: If Dilli ki garmi is getting to you, go Goa. The surf's up with a Goan fest at Diya, the Indian restaurant at the Leela Kempinski Gurgaon. No sands, no sea, no itsybitsy bikini here, yet I say ' Balchao! Balchao!' because the sea of options on the menu leaves my mind as boggled as a pomfret that must decide whether to go recheado , vindaloo or, well, balchao ! Thankfully, there's only one welcome drink, a pert kokum ras , to prime the palate for the seafood market.
This live counter has platters of lobster, prawn, and other creatures in classic Goan marinations, ready to get grilled. Though Goan staples such as bangda ( mackerel) and surmai ( kingfish) are MIA, I'm not complaining. The lemony- peppery Japanese Baby Crabs ( Rs 150 per piece), deep- fried whole, go down in a dramatic crustacean crunch.
So whetted is my appetite now that though Black Slade serenades me with a Portuguese love ditty, I have ears- eyesmolars only for food. The Mutton Vindaloo ( Rs 700) is a Scoville chartbuster; its fiery red gravy on a toddy vinegar high, its meat somewhat gamey. I'm nursing my Fontana Candida Frascati 2007, a fruity yet crisp Italian white with stunning legs, though a Riesling or Chablis would go better.
For sides, I choose unpolished Goan Rice ( Rs 250), which is robustly rustic. The Goan Poie ( Rs 150), basically like khameeri roti , would be lovely if it came off a tandoor . The mild, homestyle Vegetable Sukem ( Rs 425) counters the sharply spiced Fish Ambot Tik ( Rs 800) of river sole with its traditional interplay of sour ( tamarind) and spicy ( chilli) sexed up with a hint of kokum .
In contrast, Crab Xec Xec ( Rs 1,100) arrives in a delightfully delicate onion- coconut gravy, which I undelicately attack with bare hands. Fingerlickin' great but thumbs down to Mushroom- Peas Xacuti ( Rs 500) - way too many peas. Cabbage Foogath ( Rs 425) sounds better. Do leave some room for the dessert spread - my sweet tooth is still stuck in Alle Belle ( Rs 350), a stunning pancake roll oozing with jaggerycoconut filling.
- The festival is on till March 27