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Saturday, May 28, 2022

Where the party really is: Ditch the usual fare, go for unique Goan flavours

Ditch the usual fare in Goa and get onboard an alternative food trail to really remember the beach town by.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul D'souza |
Updated: February 4, 2018 12:00:06 am
goa food, goa cuisines, Goan flavours, Goa trip, goa food items, Candolim’s popular eatery Avozin, indian express, indian express news Breaking bread: Prawn rissois at Nostalgia.

If you’re a regular to Goa, you’ve probably done the routine beach visits and explored the popular eating spots. But, on the next visit to India’s favourite beach city, you can skip the usual xacutis and curries, choris and beef chilly, for some truly unique Goan flavours.

Yash Bhanage and Hussain Shehzad, partner and chef respectively at Mumbai’s popular Goan restaurant O Pedro, share their alternate guide to Goan food, drawn up after their numerous visits to Goa while researching the local cuisine.

* Head to Panjim’s Cafe Tato’s and Cafe Real for a breakfast of chonya ras or patal bhaji. Served mostly at local eateries, it is made with potatoes and alasande beans in a gravy with a hint of coconut. But the star of the dish is the bread it’s had with — the Goan pao. “Do not mistake it for the regular pav bread,” says Bhanage who describes it as a cross between bhatura, bread and poori. “The dough is fermented using banana, which lends it a tinge of sweetness. Once rolled out and fried, it puffs up to resemble a poori,” explains Bhanage, pointing out that the mild sweetness of the pao compliments the spicy curry.

* Beef tongue is a delicacy but not everyone finds the idea palatable. However, says Shehzad, the veal tongue sandwiches at Pinto Bar and Restaurant in Panjim can convert even the fussiest of eaters. Located near St Inez Church, the quaint bar gets the preparation just right: the meat is first cured using salt and basic spice. It is then basted with cooking liquor, which keeps the meat moist. They use a local bread that is something like the brun pav. Called ‘unde’, it’s soft inside but crusty on top, which lends the sandwich texture.

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* Although poee is finding a place again in Mumbai’s upmarket restaurants, this bread of Goan origin is a dying delicacy . On one of their trips, Shehzad and Bhanage discovered that most bakeries making poee were not run by individuals but a collective of three to four families. “The families take over the operations for three or four months and rotate their turns,” says Bhanage. The one Bhanage recommends is located at Ribandar Pato and does not have a name. “On the way from Panjim to Vasco, there is a narrow road with sea on both the sides, which takes one to Ribandar. The bakery is on the same road and can be easily spotted if you drive there around 4pm. It’s around the time when people queue up with cloth bags for fresh poee.” Made using wheat flour and bran, poee resembles pita pockets and is had with gravies.

Poee bread being made.

* The next time you head to Candolim’s popular eatery Avozin, sample their sammar curry. It’s usually had during monsoon, when the fisherfolk cannot take their boats out into the sea. Made with dried prawns, for many it is an acquired taste. Instead of adding the dried prawns to the curry, they are first crushed and then mixed in, so as to reinforce the taste. “It’s a bit of an experiment for most palates, but worth a try,” says Bhanage.

* Skip the dime-a-dozen hip spots for Anand, a hole-in-the-wall bar in Siolem. Its patrons are mostly locals, drivers of tourist vehicles who come for a meal, snack or drink after dropping their guests at fancier bars nearby. What everyone digs here is the rawa fish fry, perhaps the best you will get in Goa. They marinate the fish in tamarind and red chillies, which makes it sweet, sour and spicy, before dredging it in a mix of rice flour and semolina. The fish is then pan fried till it’s golden and crisp, a perfect snack to go with some chilled beer.

* Nostalgia, one of the most popular restaurants in Margao, serves dishes that you don’t find in many restaurants. There’s caldinho and rolados, vindalhos and cafreal, recheiados and balchao, apart from the usual curries. When its much-loved chef Fernando da Costa died in 2007, his wife Margarida, who had until then kept away from the matters of the kitchen, took over. Bhanage suggests going there for the Rissois de camarao — crumb-fried half moons of dough stuffed with seafood.

Finally, on your way out after a super Goa trip? If you are taking the bus from Mapusa, make a pit-stop at the tiny stall at the depot selling ras omelette. For the uninitiated, the dish is omelette served with meat gravy, which makes it a lot more filling and flavourful. “It’s probably the char from cooking the omelette on high flame that makes the ras omelette at this stall different,” says Bhanage. He recommends it to be had along with the banana milk shake at the next stall, which is made with a dash of Horlicks — the perfect end to a Goan holiday.

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