New Delhi, India
October 1, 2011
This time, fortunately, when the craving for ‘Goan’ kicked in, we had someplace to go: Souza Lobo. Souza Lobo opened a year back in Delhi’s Greater Kailash Part – II, M-Block Market. We’d been to the original Souza Lobo, which is on Goa’s Calangute Beach, and we’d loved it. This Souza Lobo is a franchise – it was established by Jude Lobo, the grandson of the person who founded the Goa Souza Lobo.
We visited on a Sunday evening, when we’d hoped it would be fairly empty, Delhiites preferring to do their weekend partying on Friday and Saturday nights. A short flight of steps leads up into a small vestibule, from where a further flight leads up into a bar that is also part of the restaurant. The restaurant, however, is by itself, on the first floor, and you can get drinks (beer, hard liquor, cocktails, even wines – including Goan wines) here at your table.
Souza Lobo is a cheery looking place: smallish, with a pretty yellow-tiled floor, pale-green furniture with yellow faux leather upholstery, and red-painted windows looking out on the market outside. Paintings of Goa line the cream walls, and the music is delightfully Goan: an infectious melange of West and East. The menu begins with a brief explanation of the more popular Goan dishes, written by someone who’s obviously recounting their childhood in Goa – very sweet and with a personal touch that makes it endearing. Then we go on, to the food itself: different curries in mutton, fish, prawn or pork: xacutis, sorpotels, vindalhos, and so on. There are also fried dishes, and, for those who either don’t really care for Goan or non-vegetarian food, a selection of vegetarian and/or non-vegetarian North Indian food.
We, of course, being die-hard fans of Goan food, ordered stuff that was strictly, traditionally Goan: a pork sorpotel, a masala rava fried fish, and steamed rice, with fresh lemonade to drink. It took a surprisingly long time for our food to arrive – at least 20 minutes – (how long does it take to heat up rice and sorpotel? We realised later that the fried fish was made from scratch). But it was worth it. The sorpotel, small cubes of boneless and mostly lean pork, was cooked in a spicy red gravy, the way it’s made traditionally – with pig’s blood added to thicken the gravy. The fish fillets had been rolled in rava (coarse semolina) along with some mild spices before being deep fried to a crisp, delicious golden. On the side, along with the fish, was served a helping of freshly cut rustic salad – onions, tomatoes, cabbage and green capsicum, all without any dressing. There was also a small bowlful of (alas, soggy and greasy) French fries.
For dessert, we ordered bebinca, classic Goan dessert that’s painstakingly made by cooking pancakes of rice flour, coconut milk and eggs, then piling them up into a ‘cake’. I’ve had this before – you can buy packaged bebinca in Goa – but Souza Lobo’s was superbly fresh, superbly different, all the flavours mellow and lovely, the bebinca beautifully spiced with a hint of nutmeg, and served with a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side.
All in all, a fabulous meal, despite the fact that the fries were far from good, and the waiters were often hard to get hold of. At Rs 1,463 for two people (all taxes and service charges included), this wasn’t exactly a cheap meal, but it was worth it.
From journal Getting Your Spice Fix in Delhi