Seafood, coconut milk, rice, and local spices are main ingredients of Goan cuisine. Being a state with a tropical climate, the spices and flavours are intense. Use of kokum is another distinct feature.
Goan food is considered incomplete without fish. Rice and fish-curry is the staple of most Goans. Taste it once and you will know why! Kingfish (Vison or Visvan) is the most common delicacy. Others include Pomfret, Shark, Tuna and Mackerel. Among the shellfish are Crabs, Prawns, Tiger Prawns, Lobster, Squid and Mussels.
The Portuguese have had a pronounced influence on Goan cuisine. They introduced Potatoes, Tomatoes, Pineapples, Guavas and Cashews. But the most significant contribution is the introduction of the spicy Peri-Peri Chilli, which is the most important part of Goan spices.
Tasting a dream
Cuisine: Global ‘Inspired’ Cuisine
Must try: King Prawns with Wasabi Mayo and shredded Nori
Timing: 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm
A Reverie is where those who want to celebrate the true pleasures of life come together.…that is a promise of Akritee and Virendra Singh. The uniqueness about this restaurant that has the ‘creme a la crème’ of the country dine there every season is the ‘gastronomical orgy’. Akritee has created meals that have placed her among the top 10 Young Best chef’s in India, in the Taste and Travel magazine.
So what’s special… Wasabi flavoured Avocado Guacamole accompanied by sweet & spicy salsa and Jalapeno cheese pops, or perhaps the King Prawns with Wasabi mayonnaise & shredded Nori. Innovation is her forte…the Fish? Grilled Scottish Pink Salmon fillet with Teriyaki glaze served with a sauce of blackbean soy with oyster mushrooms and accompanied with a lemongrass pilaf. A Scottish – Oriental treat. And from her Tandoor, Corn Fed Chicken Breast with a smoked barbeque marinade served with sour cream and onion sauce. Did one imagine sour cream only with potatoes?
So pamper those tastebuds with a ‘tasting’ of inspired cuisines…this is what dreams are made of.
SUEY to the Magic of the Far East
Cuisine: Burmese and Thai
Must Try: Kowsuey on Wednesdays
Pork belly cashewnut crust
Timing: 12.30 pm to 2.30 pm
7.00 pm to 11.00 pm
There is a quaint little place on the Candolim gourmet belt…a place called Bomra’s. The proprietor, a Burmese gentleman by the name of ‘Bawmra’, runs this place, the restaurant attractively laid out in the garden, the cane influence and the paper lanterns giving it an exquisite oriental touch.
But it is not only the flea market at Anjuna that makes the day Wednesday special...it is Khowsuey night. One needs a big table to do justice to the different dishes and accompaniments that is laid before you. Coconut noodles with chicken broth, crispy vegetables, with sauces and accompaniments of the vegetarian and the non vegetarian variety.
The desserts mentioned on the menu are creative too. Bawmra has made full use of the eastern influence with items like the lemon grass and ginger crème brulee, the ginger and lemon grass ice-cream and the Santiago Rum dessert. So plan ahead that trip to the gourmet belt, to get a taste of the Bomra Magic.
Stakeout -It’s a ‘festa’ all the way
Cuisine: Contemporary European
Must try: Steaks
Timing: 7.00 pm to 12 midnight
In the heart of Baga’s activity, a long pebbled pathway bordered by swaying palms leads you to a restaurant, lanterns swaying in the breeze as they hang from tress, candle lights fluttering in their glass chimneys tables set under a canopy of stars.
Started by Yellow and Manek Contractor, this duo has made contemporary fine dining the place to be frequented by one and all. Having trained under German chefs, Yellow has compiled a menu of German, Italian and European cuisine. From Bavaria comes the honey flavored goat cheese milk served with savory waffles. Every bite is a pure delight....the crunchy croutons on top of the smooth melting cheese a gourmet’s fantasy. The pizza, thin and crisp with a slight singe on the rim has a wide variety of toppings to add piazzz to the night. But these are just suggested starters….a whole range of Italian pastas, and of course the steaks…..my favorite? With Shitake mushrooms.
I- 95…that’s the ticket
Cuisine: Continental food
Must Try: Blue cheese Tournedos
Seared Fish on a bed of cilantro risotto
Timing: 7.30 am to 11.00 pm
Have you ever been to a volcano country? Tasted the food cooked on fiery stones? Well one does not have to book a ticket to Java, to eat hot food cooked on lava…. Or even perhaps experience the aftermath of a ‘searing tornado’…iits here, in a small bye lane of Calangute. ‘Tournedos and Seared fish’ and many more delightful preaparations - That is the ticket, and it’s called I 95 (a document cum ticket that remains with the passenger while on ship). Cosily nestled amongst the coconut palms, a few bamboo bushes thrown in for measure, it is a retreat for a treat.
The place is run by four entrepreneurs, James, Sumera, Tina and Sunil. Nibble on minute morsels of Bread with a Pepper Cream Cheese as you sip on a pre dinner aperitif, the terracotta courtyard with the soft lighting is a place to enjoy the menu.
For starters try the Baked Goat Cheese, with Carraway brulee, and a beetroot and walnut dressing. The Mushroom Cappucino it is simply divine. But the Grills on those ‘special’ lava stones would make you erupt with joy -the Blue cheese Tournedos, wrapped in streaky bacon, on a bed of mashed potatoes. Or perhaps the fish seared on a bed of cilantro risotto, with Nam Pla Sauce. But no meal would be complete without the dessert…James and Sumera ,Tina and Sunil will ensure that your dining experience is a ‘ticket’ to good food.
Right around the Clock
Cuisine: French with global cues
Must Try: moules marinieres a la crème de curry
Tartines de chevre chaud au mile
Timing: 8.30am to 10.30pm
No Can-Can dancing…Not even jive but Florence Tarbouriech, Morgan Rainforth and Serge Lozano have kept their place rocking over the years. From breakfast to dinner this trio (they have also been depicted on the menu card in the knife- fork- spoon combination) has a variety of delectable dishes to whet your appetite.
Drive down a beaten track at Ashvem, to a pristine beach, La Plage a beachside restaurant exudes a bohemian spirit amidst the coconut palms…..showcasing a funky way of life with a twist. Chef Morgan has increased the level of sophistication in his food taking on global cues but retaining the French flavor. The moules marinieres a la crème de curry (mussels cooked in white wine with curry cream) is a hot favorite. Pardon the pun but perhaps the curry sauce is one that creates it. Or nibble on the Tartines de chevre chaud au mile (hot goat cheese on toast with honey)....Well honey! That got my goat.
And the innovation does not end there. Tapas, Grills and even desserts- Morgan has specials for different times of the day. No heavy sauces, but juice extracts… even the desserts like the Pain perdu aux pommes caramelisees (a sandwich of caramelized apple between French toast). This is a rocking meeting place of different people of different nationalities. A place worth a visit…
It’s a Republic like no other
Republic of Noodles
Cuisine: Pan Asian
Must try: Barbequed Honey Glazed Pork Spare Ribs
coconut and turmeric curry of red snapper
Timing: 7.00 pm to 11.00 pm
It begins with the logo…a big black star against a red background wrapped around with noodles. The Republic Of Noodles is an experience like none other- South East Asian fare from Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia and Burma. The décor is warm and lively, and the food a delight to the senses.
The starters Barbequed Honey Glazed Pork Spare Ribs with honey sauce, Cambodian Style Grilled prawns with coconut curry sauce. One would run after those honky pigs to savor those spare ribs, and the Cambodian style prawns? To die for! But hold on to that lifeline cause the main fare has still to come. Jungle Curry of chicken with vegetables and green peppercorn (North East Thailand), coconut and turmeric curry of red snapper (South Thailand), Char Kway Teow Malaysian style stir fried seafood with flat rice noodles…..street food in Malaysia to stir your palate.
Talk about a ‘stir’? The Teppanyaki stir-fries…Thai style Drunken Prawns, Singapore chilli king crab with bell pepper, Vietnamese Scampi with roasted chiil, and then the Clay pot dishes, Western Sumatran Lamb curry, Fiery Sri Lankan Fish curry , Indonesian Fish Gulai Curry Padang special .… Elasticized waistlines are the best to wear at this elegant restaurant. There is always room for expansion for the desserts. Fried ice cream, Indonesian banana fritters or the sweetened sticky rice cakes with pumpkin custard-believe me this is a republic like no other.
A ‘Fat’ Greek repast
Must try: Dolmadakia, Keftedakia
Timing: 4.00 pm to 11.00 pm
Perched on the rocky cliffs of Vagator, one can sit on cushioned cane chairs sip on Ouzo with a plate of me zee’s and watch the golden orb of the sun slip below the horizon. Sample the famous Pita Souvlaki wraps, a choice of kebabs topped with tzatziki dip (a creamy combo of yoghurt, garlic, cucumber and olive oil), your senses will be stirred with anticipation on what will follow.
Open from 4.00 pm onwards, this open air restaurant features delicacies, fare which is specifically chosen by owner Mariketty to please your taste buds.
Thalassa is an acronym for ‘Sea’ in Greek, and as the moon shimmers on the water nibble on the Keftedakia, those round crunchy meat balls will tickle your palate. Or perhaps the Dolmadakia the Greek specialty of Vine leaves stuffed with rice and herbs. Don’t miss the Saganaki. That crisp fried slice of feta cheese is a delight to savor. From the grill comes the lamb Kalamaki kebab, on skewers the minced delicacy oozes flavors that will have you begging for more. On your dining agenda should be the preparations of soft succulent meat that will transport you to Corfu-Mariketty’s original home, the Sofrito, layers of beef steak cooked in garlic and parsley in that gravy sauce so reminiscent of the island fare and the Pastitada, pieces of beef delicately flavored in the tomato sauce, red wine and Greek herbs. And as the gentle breeze wraps you in its embrace, leave time and place for an exciting variety of desserts…from home made Greek yoghurt to rich cheesecakes or even the traditional baklava…One does not need to be invited to a Greek wedding…this is a repast to remember.
Mamma Mia…how can I resist you
J&A’s Ristorante Italiano
Must Try: Pizza magharita
Timing: Open for dinner
Mamma Mia! Here I go again, my my how can I resist you….popular lyrics by Abba but Oh so true. Two MumbaikarsJamshed ana Ayesha hopped into a car and drove down to Goa to start a restaurant.
The village of Arpora made famous with the Saturday Night Market also boasts of this Gourmet Restaurant..with the typical ‘Mamma Mia’ hospitality. Jamshed and Ayesha take the trouble to come to each and every table and explain the menu. Their USP is the way they cook their pastas. It is cooked ‘al dente’ and is not overpowered with any sauce. Like your toppings ‘hot or sweet?’ their pineapple and jalapeno pizza’s tempt even the most difficult customer….with the freshness of their crust. The winding waterbody, the scenic beauty and the warmth of the place..you could be humming.. ‘I don't know how but I suddenly lose control’ (when the food comes to the table, ‘There's a fire within my soul’…. (on completion of the dish) Mamma mia!
Looking back at Goa’s diverse culture…Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, Portuguese and even a difference in the taste of food in the North and the South Talukas of Goa, there are many secrets learned on the culinary front from their grandmothers kitchens.
Here are some of the places to visit.
Mums the word
Cuisine: Goan food from Hindu Goan kitchens
Must try: Tavlele tal le Vel’lim prawn curry with bimbli
Timing: 11.00 am to 11.00 pm
Goa is crying for her lost cuisine.’ Suzie and Rony Martins dreamt of resurrecting the authentic Goan cuisine from local homes. Rony’s mother was a fantastic cook and perhaps inspired this creative couple to leave a family business of calligraphy and move into an area of showcasing Goa’s home cooked food.
From Tavlele tal le Vel’lim, crispy fried milkfish that makes an excellent starter to the prawn peri-peri and the Rissois de camarao the masala delicately entwined in the seafood takes us back to a legacy left behind by the Portuguese. The menu has a lot of variations, something different...from the Hindu Goan kitchens there is a feast for the vegetarians Keel Khatkhatem (bamboo shoots), Melgor (black eyed beans) and Bimbli Udamethi while for the seafood lovers a variety of prawn preparations, the prawn Hooman with radish (a brown thick gravy), and the local favorite prawn curry with bimbli (a bright orange red). Talk about satisfying a variety of taste buds…every dish has its own unique flavor. The fish is fried in rice flour another old tradition, and the pork balchao is simmered in earthenware pots, its rich taste enhanced by the different ingredients of its composition.
The desserts too, were one of a kind. ‘Like what mother used to give at 4.00 pm.’ Manganem, Sweet potatoes, Moira banana Fritters...local Goan desserts perhaps not found in any of the local restaurants.
Mistress of Spice Martins Corner
Cuisine: Local Goan favorites,
Must try: King Crab Xec-Xec,
pomfret caldin Timings: 11.15 am to 3.30 pm,
6.15 pm to 11.00 pm
Red checked tablecloths on the table, the bar like the taverna of old. This restaurant is the haunt of Page 1 and Page 3 celebrities…politicians, sportspersons, actors. Carafina Periera the fulcrum of the restaurant, a woman who single handedly in 1989 created an institution to be visited when on holiday in Goa. From a modest four tables serving food to the staff of a five star hotel, she now has this warm bustling restaurant serving tasty authentic Goan food. Nibble on batter fried calamiri and masala fried mussels, perhaps nibbling would be a wrong word…every sea food preparation creates a longing for more. Sachin Tendulkar loves King Crabs, so on the menu the dish is listed under his name. The red Xec-Xec masala that coats this crustacean delicacy is so tangy that one would be compelled to hit a six across the restaurant in delight. The pomfret caldin is smooth and creamy, the spice bound coconut milk with its turmeric flavor coats each and every grain of rice to have one slurping for more. But it is not only the seafood – festa favorites of sorpotel and pork chops (the secret is in the marination) combined with her very home made pickles kharacho, para, mole a local gastronomic delight. After all she prepares her own home made vinegar. The too ambience is just right...full tables, service from kitchen to restaurant before your eyes can blink, and after that meal from the Mistress of Spice it would be time to take a well deserved siesta as the Goans do.
Viva! Viva! We wanna more
Cuisine: Local Goan favorites
Must try: stuffed tomaso
Goa prawn curry
Timings: 11.00 am to3.30 pm
7.00 pm to 11.30 pm
An award winning restaurant not on the beaches of Goa, but in an old Hertitage house in the by lanes of fountainhais run by Linda deSousa…a place called Viva Panjim.
The narrow cobbled alley outside the home come dinnertime is full of tables and lively chatter, people exchanging jokes, words drifting in Konkani and Portuguese, definitely the essence of ‘Heritage Goa.’ Old Goan favorites like batterfried squid and fish lollipops with its crispy red coating… the delicious flavored fish just melts in the mouth. Do you want to know her secret? It’s a fresh catch of the day.
Foreign chefs had come over to the restaurant to take note of her recipes…and no wonder, the stuffed tomaso (red snapper) has its bright red Raechado masala oozing out from its side the red chilly paste in vinegar will add to the salivation, the Goa prawn curry one would wonder if coconut is really used in the preparation, the deep orange a feast for the eyes and then the palate…and then the fish Balchao and chicken cafreal, with the unpolished Goa rice of course.
Her crab preparations are a delight…people take them home to savor and crunch at the last bit of masala coating the crustacean delicacy…. And if you hear her guests singing as they wind their way home through the narrow alley, don’t be surprised if you hear the lyrics…’we wanna, we wanna, we wanna more.’
Cuisine: For the family
Goan, Oriental, Indian
Must try: Excellent starters
Honey chilli chicken
Timings: 11.00 am to 11.00 pm
Boats….Birds? look across the water at the beautiful landscape, the fishing village of Cutbona nestled amid coconut palms, the birds flying in formation against the sky, the fishing nets laid out to dry. A wonderful place to bring your family for a day out filled with eating and activity. Overlooking the Sal riverfront, you can sit ion the dock and watch the world go by…fishing trawlers, seagulls and swaying coconut trees on the opposite bank.. this is a place where you can eat, play and even fish…by borrowing a complimentary fishing rod hoping for a bite.
But if the fish play hide and seek there is always the thick orangey prawn curry that the kitchen provides and if you want those tastebuds to be pampered…the pork assad is a must. The Masala Prawns has a spicy tangy flavour, to die for. Or if your kids yearn for a ‘touch’ of the Orient try the Honey Chilli chicken. Your children will just love it..so will you. Besides this there are the other favourites Chicken 65, Crispy fried Vegetables and the kebabs.
Now these are no fishy tales…its ‘fish’ galore at the Fisherman’s Wharf.
GOA'S BEST KEPT FOOD SECRET NOSTALGIA
Cuisine: Traditional Goan
Must try: Uddamethi
Timings: Lunch and Dinner
It’s a Nostalgic trip as one tastes food at the late legendary Fernando Costa’s place at Raia. This restaurant boasts of the ‘best kept secrets’ of Hindu and Christian Goan food. Now run by his wife Margarida da Costa and hs loyal staff the ‘spirit’ of Ferdie lives on at Nostalgia.
Try the prawn balchao..those tiny pickled shrimps will tickle your palate, while the ‘subltle’ amounts of vinegar in the uddamethi..is Goa’s best kept food secret. The chicken cafreal too is a sure tip that its marination and preparation is one from the kitchens of a ‘goenkar.’ Irreplaceable.
Ferdies tagline- ‘food when grandpa fancied grandma,’ is not a passing phrase, the flavors linger on despite his untimely demise.
JOET DE VIVRE
Cuisine: goan delicacies
Must try: Fish Raechado, Stuffed crabs
Timings: Lunch and Dinner
The white sands, a few boats parked on the waterfront and the open expanse leading to the sea. A place for ‘joie de vivre’ -started by a fisherman named Jose who used to catch the fish, based on the orders got in the morning and his wife Ethelvina who would cook the food– ‘JOETS.’
Now a family enterprise Joets has grown organically and while most shacks have lost the art of making good Goan food, the seafood served here is the pride of this coast. Ethelvina is still at the helm of the kitchen, personally taking out the masalas for the food preparations.
The Stuffed Crab and the masala fried prawns is definitely recommended -the stuffed crab, four shells filled with crab meat, crunchy onions and Reichado sauce….grated cheese on top. And the prawns? Right down to the crunchy heads in the shells the masala seeps into the preparation.
For the main course try Red snapper. The whole fish presented on a glass plate is filetted right through, butterfly shape, the red masala and spicy crust masking it. And the prawn curry - the extract of the coconut in the curry does wonders to the consistency.
So if one would like to try the shack culture in an environment of peace and tranquility this would be the place for an experience of ‘Joet de vivre’
THE MUSIC OF THE SEA
ZEEBOP BY THE SEA
Must try: Continental preparations
Timimgs: Open for lunch and dinner
Why Zeebop? Sergio, the proud owner of the restaurant confesses with a smilethat it was Carlos Santana’s Reebob-Zeebop, that made him create a seafood institution in the south.
Crunch over swept and flattened white sand, the perforated mud lanterns bobbing overhead, hear the rumble of the waves, and create your own music for the feast that could follow.
The starters list fifteen preparations of seafood. The main course under the name of Underwater treasures lists another eighteen. It was raining fish…hallehluiah…from crabs, prawns, squid, mussels to lobsters, Zebra shark, Red Snapper, Pomfret and even an off the menu Sting ray. This soft meat very similar to shark makes an excellent Amotik.
The stuffed crab and the Calamari Reichade or you can even have it in butter pepper sauce or indulge in the continental favorites.
The word Zeebop actually means ‘sea god’ in Russian. Perhaps the music one hears are the notes played by him.
Cuisine: Multicuisine and Goan,
Must try: Xacutti masala, and seafood with Goan flavor.
Also Tandoor and Thermidor.
Timing: Lunch and Dinner
There is a restaurant that has stood rock solid over 3 generations of owners….way back since 1932….. The vision of two enterpreneurs Grandmother Souza and Grandfather Lobo, created an institution on the beahes of Calangute called Souza Lobo. Time has not taken away the pioneering spirit of the original ingredients- sample the masala fried prawns has dry prawn powder sautéed with onions and masala. Another new preparation is the Oyster Xacutti to be had with the Goan pao Dip the ‘khatre pao’ bread…crisp on the outside, soft within, in the gravy. Its mouth watering, The coarsely ground spices, coated the oyster to perfection Old favorites like Pomfret Raechade and Sausage pulao are recommended too ..but if it is multicuisine that catches your fancy the Baby Tandoor king fish, and the Lobster Thermidor are ‘show stoppers.’ Don’t take the word literally…the show does not stop remember its been going on since 1932..
MAMA YO QUEIRO
Cuisine: goan-portuguese food
Must try: Teesroi sukhe, Bombay duck
Timings: Lunch and dinner
Did you know that the first Chicken Cafreal in Goa was served at Coqueiro? There is history in this simple bar and snack eating joint started way back in 1968, which today is a bustling restaurant right in the heart of Porvorim. In the 1970’s Chef Gines Viegas returned from East Africa…and created it into a haven of excellent local food. The name ‘Coqueiro’ itself lends credence to most of the masalas that go into the preparation...it means coconut tree. And later it had the dubious distinction of having the notorious Charles Sobraj captured here.
Today its reputation is known for serving authentic Goan Portuguese food.
Delicious stuffed crabs, prawn stuffed papad and stuffed mushroom with cheese excellent starters. The crumb fried Bombay Duck, the Tisreo Sukhe,(one will not find these preparations in other restaurants) the Chicken Cafreal and to top it all the Prawn curry with rice. Finger- licking good….
Its recipes that have made Goa proud all through the years….you might walk out humming the Portuguese song Mama yo Queiro…with a spring in your step after a meal here..
Must try: Fish with continental sauce
Timing: Lunch and Dinner
Which restaurant does one patronize? It all depends on the food. Especially ‘When-it’s’ tasty. Introducing Venite’s…no that would be the wrong word, Venite needs no introduction. The restaurant has been in the forefront right from the year 1955. In fact the words on the menu cards proclaim its intention loud and clear…Hospedaria Venite….’hospitality is the name.’ A slatted wooden board proclaims the day’s specials. This is of course in addition to the regular menu on the table. Items listed there include Calamari, Sea Bass, Perch, Red Snapper, Crabs….a seafood bonanza.
The Stuffed Crab is recommended. The sauce does not overpower the meat. and the taste was definitely crabmeat with that slight hint of parsley, olive oil and a touch of béchamel and wine. And the prawn in Goan salsa is red and spicy. The recipe is Luis’s mother’s. Goan chillies, Goan vinegar, goan shallots…it puts you in the mood to salsa……
And now for the main course...settle for a red snapper. Just like the 90’s it comes with Baked beans, Vegatables, French fries, green peas..and the open fish fillet topped with a creamy cheese sauce cooked in wine it does not take long to realize that Luis with the grandeur of the age old house is determined to keep the traditional remnants of Goa intact. With reference to food When-it’s tasty, all roads lead to Venite’s.