Regional Cuisines For Your Cravings
Best Eats in Goa
7 minute read
Text: Shubham Gupta
Pics courtesy: Anup Patil, Planet Goa Archives, Siddharth Sumitran, Hotel Fidalgo, Tamarin Mediterranean Bistro Lounge
Goa is popular throughout the country for the continental and Goan cuisines it has in store from a legion of restaurants. Most of these restaurants also serve standard Indian food but let me tell you a little secret from the food industry. Especially for gravy based Indian items, the chefs (or the maharajahs for that matter) have two or three premixed half-down gravy pastes, which with different combinations of masalas, vegetables, meats or seafood are made to taste differently. So most of the time when you order chicken do pyaza or chicken masala or kadhai chicken, you’re actually consuming the same gravy. However, some restaurants are a step ahead when it comes to freshly prepared, fine-tuned masalas and the authenticity of the flavors that the dish is supposed to have. From my gustatory voyage in Goa, I have chalked out five such eateries for an authentic Indian regional culinary fix.
Located on Chogm Road behind the Freedom Tree home store, Mustard makes for a delightful culinary venture. Their well researched menu offers rich Bengali cuisine developed over centuries from Muslim, British, and Portuguese influences. Their Bengali food swells with authenticity in every bite with subtle use of spices so that you taste every ingredient without having a distorted palate. You must dive into their tantalizing Shammi Kebabs, Rui Maacher Shorshay Jhaal (Bengali preparation of fresh water fish – Rohu), Gughni (a spicy preparation of chickpeas), Kosha Mangsho (slow cooked mutton in a spicy Bengali.curry), and finish with Bhapa Doi (a milk based festive Bengali dessert).
Gunpowder, an Indian coastal restaurant located in Assagao, is where you need to head to sample some authentic South Indian culinary marvels. At Gunpowder, it’s all about sumptuous homely food. Specializing in Alleppey (a backwater town in Kerala) style of food, Gunpowder also serves offerings from other southern states. You must sample some of their Kerala beef curry, Malabari parotta (paratha), Idukki pork curry, appam, dosam, and a whole lot of gunpowder.
Being born and brought up in Delhi, I have a sensitive palate for Punjabi and Awadhi cuisines and even if one of the vital spices is missing or abundant in the dish, I freak out. To avoid freaking out, I preferably head to Delhi Darbar for a Mughlai/Punjabi fix. Their preparations are influenced by Hyderabadi or Lucknowi style of cooking but they really know how to keep the taste and the essence of the food. You must sample their butter chicken (although I’m very critical about my butter chicken), mutton Rogan Josh, dum biryani, and chicken malai tikka.
Bhojan at Hotel Fidalgo in Panjim serves authentic Gujarati Thalis tastefully prepared by the erstwhile Maharajas from Rajasthan & Gujarat whose families have been passing the recipes down for generations.Their Thalis are served in a simple Gujarati ambiance while they make sure that they go all out when it comes to quality, consistency, and hygiene with distinctive dishes, pickles, and sweets. My favorite among their servings are their papda nu saag, kadhi, dal dhokla, and chhaas.
Tamarin Mediterranean Bistro Lounge
You must be wondering why a Mediterranean Bistro is being featured in the Indian regional cuisine section. No I have not gone bollocks nor am I playing with you. I too found it surprising to discover that Tamarin serves authentic Kashmiri food as well. I went there to have a Greek salad and ended up having Kashmiri dum olav (alloo: Hindi for potato); how about that? If you ever go there and don’t feel like having Mediterranean food, do try their Razmah (kidney beans), naat yakkhni (mutton cooked in aromatic spices and yogurt gravy), mutton biryani, and, kong firin (firni: semolina milk pudding with saffron and dried fruits) for dessert.