I come from a traditional Catholic family where turkey and potatoes, pork and poppy cakes are sacred. My family does not like to experiment with food. They don’t go to restaurants because they believe there is no better food other than the food they kill and cook with their bare hands. One time, my mother accidentally pour olive oil on lettuce which almost lead to a divorce. Father accused her of poisoning him. They were cursing each others families and all of that in front of their underaged kids.
Even though I haven’t lived with my parents for a decade, I have been gathering the courage to tell them that I was about to travel to India. Namely, my family thinks that everything there is to see can be seen in their village and a little further, in a village across the next hill. One time, my sister accidentally attended a yoga class which lead to my parents contacting the local exorcist. Mother was yelling at everyone in our household: “That is all because you gave up God! That is not how I raised her. We will all light a candle at the mass tomorrow and pray to the Mother of God to show Helena the right path again. Helena will confess her sins and our generous God will forgive her for yoga.”
What does this introduction have to do with Namaste restaurant you wonder?
The point is that I am traveling to India soon and what better way to get to know a culture than through gastronomy and poligamy. I have invited a few lovely ladies who will be heartbroken after I leave to join me for lunch at NAMASTE restaurant.
Matea and Rea, my yoga practicing friends, were supposed to join me. They adore both India and my humble self, but they couldn’t make it so they sent replacements – a painter and jewelry designer Jasminka Škalić and a jewelry designer and a tarot master Rain from New York. I told Jasminka I really wanted to have another girl with Indian complection join us, but I didn’t know that many Indian girls so I settled for Matilda Elizabeta. Jasminka asked me: “Who are those two?” I replied: “It is only one girl, but she has two names. Matilda Elizabeta is a beautiful Surinamese from Zagreb.”
We sat at the table and ordered Mango Lassi – a traditional Indian beverage with yoghurt and mango.
Rain was Judas. She ordered tea. What can you do…
A polite waiter suggested a few of Indian specialities.
In my family, vegetables are only served for decorative purposes, god forbid someone actually eating them. However, Rain is a vegetarian so we had to get veggie Samosa for appetizers – flour shells filled with potatoes and green peas in indian spices.
I was in a “silence of the lambs” mood myself so I ordered Mutton Seekh – juicy minced lamb rolls, fried and baked in tandoor.
Matilda and Jasminka threw themselves on the lamb like a priest on money. While she wasn’t looking, I stole Rain a little piece of Samosa, but I can’t mention this in my column because my parents would delete me from the will.
As we waited for the main course, Rain couldn’t help herself to stop raping me on Instagram.
Of course, the move caused a slight jealousy of Miss Suriname. She has a boyfriend, but she can’t stand when other girls looks at me.
Not that it bothers me when girls fight for my affection, but there is a time and place for everything. Luckily the main course arrived at the table so they could fight over food:)
Desi Dhaba Kukkad – Indian high street style chicken curry on the bone
Chicken was melting in my mouth like ice in my mother’s freezer in the village. The tender meat was detatching off the bone like hair off of Donald Trumps head on a windy day. The sauce was phenomenal and spiced just right.
Prawns Coconut Curry – Prawns in coconut milk, ginger, garlic and Indian herbs.
This was a perversion of flavor. Perfection. Luckily, Rain is a vegetarian so she only watched how Jasminka, Matilda and I were stuffing ourselves with prawns.
However, Rain didn’t stay hungry. She got Armistari Masala Chole – chickpeas cooked with tomatoes, onions and exotic spices.
We have also ordered Naan with garlic – traditional Indian yeast bread baked in tandoor.
The point of going to a restaurant is not just about enjoying good food, it is also about making others feel hungry and drool over your amazing photos on social media. And if something isn’t on all social media, it didn’t happen. We had to take a nice family photo.
Jasminka had to leave earlier, but that did not stop us from continuing to hang out and talk behind her back. Lunch without desert is like the Kardashians without plastic surgeries.
Gajar ka Halwa – Baked carrot, slowly cooked in cow’s milk spiced up with cardamom.
Gulab Jamun – Calcutta milk balls fried in butter, soaked in rose syrup. This is something between donuts and baklava. All of us agreed it was the best desert at the restaurant.
Chef Sourabh Khandekar deserves at least one photo in this article:)
It would have been a shame not having a few more cocktails after such amazing food. Since Rain originates from the Caribbean, she decided to go for a Dark Caribbean cocktail – Dark rum, espresso, fresh cream and chocolate.
Matilda was afraid not to make the wrong choice which would make me like her less so she played it safe and ordered the same one Rain did.
Dear Leader aka Vin Diesel for poor people decided to go with Dr. Advice – Turmeric infused gin, rosemary, tonic water, ginger & orange.
We asked the lovely staff to take a photo of us in the NAMASTE pose.
Namaste is a polite way of saying hello and it is used in Hindu culture to say hello or goodbye. Sometimes it is pronounced as “namaskar”, “namaskaram” or “vanakkam” and it is followed by a slight bow with hands put together. This gesture is called anjali mudra or pranamasana and it means “I bow to the divine in you”. This greeting can be said even without the accompanying gestures or vice versa but it will always transmit the same meaning and it will stand for surrendering ego in favour of the spiritual part of us. Meaning of the word “namaste” is recognized all around the world as something that stands for peace, honor and respect.
PS I had to write something spiritual to sum up. The food was amazing, the prices affordable, environment was excellent and the service superb. I’ll be back!
Zagreb, Selska cesta 217
Author: Josip Novosel aka Dear Leader, Vin Diesel for poor people, a corresponding member of the “Yoga will make God hate you” magazine, a friend to the wealthy, a tycoon and a Gastro Snob, but above all a human.