The no-frills decor of The Konkan on St. Mark’s Road seems to be a purposeful act in exorcising past ghosts. The purple and yellow psychedelic walls of Pecos, the space’s former resident, have been whitewashed, and the raucous rumble of rock n’ roll swapped for velvety vocals of Konkani pop. We’re also thrilled to report that Peco’s repugnent pub grub has been vanquished forever.
Return Of The Mackerel
The first wave at this coastal restaurant –prawns ghee roast and Bangada Uppu Munchi – assures us that there’s an experienced hand in the kitchen. The portly prawns seem to have had a luxurious spa day, soaking in masala and taking full advantage of the lush lift of ghee without being drowned out by its slickness. On unwrapping mackerel steamed in a banana leaf, we are taken over by the aroma of fresh coriander and sharp green chillies that have been ground and massaged into the meat.
A glass of millenial pink sol kadi, a creamy coastal digestif drink, soothes the belly while bigger orders swim up to the table - bowls of kane Konkan curry, prawn ambotik, Konkan vegetable gassi and chicken ghee roast.
Cod Do No Better
Each of the curries has its own distinctive seal: the fleshy ladyfish gravy is powered with red chillies but cut by coconut milk, which adds a sweeter, more rounded taste. Prawns are fresh and floating in a bath of tangy-sour delight; while the creamy, sweetness of coconut and zesty ginger underscores vegetable gassi. Chicken ghee roast reverberates with the savoury satisfaction of our prawn starter. Pair with paper-thin panpole (neer dosas), semiya and fluffy sannas.
We haven’t taken a more satisfying tour of the Konkan belt since our white-sand-crystal-water trip to Tarkarli beach. And although the lifeguard in his high chair is telling us we shouldn’t eat anymore, we order ragi manni, a finger-millet pudding which is further evidence of the kitchen’s ability to strike the right balance between flavour and texture. It has the constitution of jelly, but a strong spine of earthy sweetness provided by the jaggery. The payasam is this kitchen’s only slip-up - it could’ve done with a bit more milk, and the dried fruits would’ve sparkled with a quick fry in ghee for punch.
Stick to the pescatarian pleasures and ignore the lifeguard in your head, for a fragrant and fulfilling flash trip to The Konkan.
Getting there: 48, First Floor, above KC Das, St. Marks Road, call 25593066. A meal for two costs approximately Rs 2,500.
Accessibility: A very narrow flight of steps leading up to the first floor and no elevator access.
bpb reviews anonymously and pays for its own meals.
This story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.
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