The romantic ambience of Shahin Awal’s Indian restaurant in Palma’s Santa Catalina district owes much to a love story.
The charming chef/patron left his native Bangladesh when he was just 16 years old, because he couldn’t marry the love of his life. He escaped his family, without saying where he was going. Comparing himself to Huckleberry Finn, Shahin says, “If someone made a film about my story, it would win an Oscar!”
Seeking a quiet life – in what was then a quiet country – Shahin came to Spain and worked in restaurants in Madrid, then opened his own place, with a partner.
After selling the business, the chef worked in the catering sector, spending a year each in Spain and Japan, before returning to Spain. During a holiday on Mallorca in 1993, the passionate hiker fell in love with the Serra de Tramuntana. He made the island his new home and business location
Shahin takes care of every aspect of his Basmati restaurant: shopping for the fresh, seasonal ingredients; supervising the kitchen; and looking after his diners, with his customary warm smile and gentle manner.
His delicious mildly spiced cuisine is also healthy and, as well as the tasting menu (which he carefully plans and changes every day), he offers gluten-free menus: “I want to take care of people.” Shahin even grows his own herbs he uses in his ecological garden.
Because he’d had his heart broken, Shahin wanted Basmati to be romantic; the décor includes strewn rose petals and subtle lighting. He sees himself in couples, and treats diners as though he himself were sitting at the table. “If you come to my house, I will take care of you.”
The restaurateur isn’t passionate about money – but about people. “Don’t love with your head, love with your heart,” is his life’s motto. His values of respect, generosity, honesty, and a passion for his work and for people, shine through at Basmati. “When you come here, you have to open your mind and your heart,” says the man with the romantic soul.
Discover more of the best restaurants in Palma de Mallorca
Palma might be a relatively small Spanish city but it sure packs in its fair share of high-class restaurants and world cuisine. All you need to know is where to go. Editor and local resident Dr Helen Cummins offers her insight into which places to visit, all of which have been tried, tested and tasted. See which 30 must-try Palma restaurants made the list and which one takes the top spot!
You’ll never be short of a place to eat with Helen Cummins’ tried and tested list of recommended restaurants in Palma. Bon profit!