Southi The Real South Indian Restaurant | Candolim
A lesser known fact about food from India’s five southern states is that the cuisine of each state has more to offer than just idlis, dosas and vadas. SouthI Resto Bar, a new restaurant and bar in Goa that serves a variety of south Indian food, gives one the opportunity to try the real deal. The reactions that the food here elicits ranges from disbelief at the beginning of a meal (“wait.. what do you mean this is an idli??” to sheer delight at the end (“I am definitely coming back here with my friends!!”).
Located in the heart of Candolim, SouthI is on the ground floor of Zense Resort opposite Novotel Shrems Hotel. The restaurant has ample space to accommodate about 100 guests and provides both outdoor and indoor seating options including a mezzanine space that can be booked for small private get-together.
The restaurant was launched in December 2015 and remains open from 7am to midnight, all days of the week, throughout the year. The decor is tastefully done in subtle colours with a few south Indian traditional art pieces adding to the ambience of the place. Multi-coloured ceiling lamps paint a pretty picture when turned on in the evenings.
SouthI, brought to you by the same team that own Mahesh Lunch Home and the Banana Leaf chain of restaurants in Mumbai, is a gastronomic melange of classic and reinvented dishes from Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telegana and Goa. The owner, Mr. Suraj, was out of town at the time of our visit but the restaurant manager, Mr. Pujari, was extremely knowledgeable and assisted us by answering all our queries. He eagerly recommended a variety of dishes for us to sample and also introduced us to the man responsible for the well-thought-out menu.
Chef Nagesh, the head chef, draws from an arsenal that is not just limited to the ubiquitous Udupi fare of classic idlis and dosas but also includes dishes from the rarer Coorg, Chettinad and Malabar regions. The restaurant also has a limited North Indian menu with options for the not-so-eager-to-experiment guests.
The Kadi Patta, SouthI’s experimental signature starter infuses the simple flavours of curry leaves and green chillies into a meat of your choice. The result is a surprisingly flavoursome and well balanced dish made with such few ingredients. The wafer thin Mutton Kheema Dosa, with the right level of crispiness, was stuffed with a mildly spiced mutton mince. Both these starters pair well with a pint of chilled local beer.
For the idli-aficionados, the masala idli options range from plain masala or with spice-mixed chicken or prawn. The Coorg Idli with Chicken had us poking and prodding the dish to tell the idli and the chicken pieces apart! Some other combinations on the menu include Andhra Chilli Idli, Chettinad Idli and Hyderabadi Korma Idli.
SouthI’s main course options are classic dishes, true to their original regional influences. One can feast on the many avatars in which rice is prepared in the south – appams, neer dosa, roti or idiyappam. The Appams were light, fluffy and beautifully soft in the middle with thin, lacy edges. However, we felt that the batter could have been infused with a stronger hint of coconut. Appams traditionally are served with a stew but the restaurant will accommodate requests for other unique combinations too.
The Coorg Pork Roast is a pepper flavoured classic meat dish from Coorg that goes well with soft, light Neer Dosas. Seafood dishes like Kingfish are fried as per the customer’s preference. Even the simple tava fry sans the rava coating can leave one salivating for more.
The Mutton Chettinad Masala had succulent pieces of mutton swimming in a rich, thick gravy that was heavily spiced. But the Malabar Parottas that accompanied the curry were slightly dry and not as soft and fluffy as the original version found in Kerala. Mr Pujari recommended that we also try the Malabar Curry and the Mangalorean Kori-roti but by this time, our stomachs were ready to explode.
The restaurant also offers some excellent desserts to satiate one’s post-meal sweet cravings. We ended up sharing mini-serves of the Eleneer Payasam (made with tender coconut and milk infused with rose water), Belle Payasam (lentils cooked in jaggery and coconut milk and Akhrot Halwa (a western take on the Indian halwa with walnuts and chocolate).
Overall, SouthI serves up a very unique and diverse offering of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes and south Indian flavours under one roof which is difficult to find not just elsewhere in Goa but even the rest of India. If you have always equated south Indian food to just Idli, Dosa and Sambhar, get set to be exposed to quite a lot more of what this region of India has to offer.
Contact Number: +91 832 248 9230 (Mr. Raghav Pujari, Manager)
Location: Zense Resort 1088, Escrea-Waddo, Opp. Novotel Shrems Hotel, Candolim, Goa