Mumbai To Goa - A Culinary Cruise!
I do not review restaurants. Why ?
Because I feel that if I walk into any restaurant I would
definitely get preferential treatment. Would the same courtesies,
service, food and treatment be extended to everyone else who
walks into that restaurant? I am not sure! Still here I am
attempting to write, for the very first time, about restaurants.
I feel that the information through this column would definitely
be beneficial to the readers and also help them better in
decision making when it comes to eating out. Like everyone
else I also want to be adventurous but at the same time want
to feel happy about the whole dining experience. Life is very
short, therefore allow me to do the job of finding good eating
places from all across the globe through well-researched methods
which are essentially is based on Hit and Trial. For you I
am willing to be the guinea pig.
| (Top) Proud owners Suhas and Deepa
Awchat, (Below) Goa Portuguesa restaurant interior, Culture
Here is Goa sans the sea and sand.
At Goa Portuguesa, Mahim, a restaurant par excellence, one
could go ga-ga over the food especially when you know that
this popular Mumbai restaurant has won a hat trick of awards
in the year 2002. Be it international recognition by the New
York Times, the Best Indian Restaurant Award from
H&FS and Tourism Department Government of India and the
The Outstanding Gourmet Restaurant Award in India
by the International Tourism Council. The proud owners have
every reason to beam for recently the `Udyogshree: Businessman
of the Year award has been awarded to their twin restaurants
Goa Portuguesa and Culture Curry. And frankly, smiling comes
easy to the smart couple Dr Suhas Awchat, MD and his ever
smiling wife Deepa, executive chef and CEO, Goa Portuguesa
for their labour of love has borne fruits by the bushel. Is
it all hype? Lets find out.
Let me begin with the story. Sorry,
the love story. What happens when a staunch Maratha meets
a Goan senior customs officer. The former did not want to
follow his medical profession and the latter had an undying
love for Goan food, and of course the former has an undying
love for the latter so now history is made. Goa Portuguesa
is designed as a small Goan cottage with stained glass and
arched windows, the music system replete with sweet Goan melodies,
all traces of this place formerly being a clinic gone! Says
Deepa, Our cuisine consists of both Goan and Portuguese
food, the difference being that the latter is less spicy,
lighter and uses a lot of olive oil. This food is mainly from
Goan Catholics, whereas the Goan cuisine is from the Hindu
Goans. And adds in Dr Awchat, It is a myth that
Goan food is synonymous with seafood. We have researched well
and can dish up to two hundred vegetarian dishes! In
the recent past I have been noticing that Doc has been consistently
trying to push his vegetarian fare. Vegetarianism is in, I
Well, as the table is set, so are
to taste the best that Goa Portuguesa has to offer.
We start with chicken caldo verde, creamy soup with spinach
and chicken. Do order garlic bread. Local Mumbai pav with
generous portion of garlic and butter. grilled tiger prawns
with the masala being perfect, or it is that the prawns were
so very fresh. I am told Deepa takes personal interest in
buying of fresh produce. Whatever, supreme is the word. With
the pomfret recheiado in all its glory of red Goan masala
on the fiery side, we also asked for a chicken xacuti with
its exotic Goan spices in coconut gravy. And if the theme
is Goan can Goa sausage be far behind? There are a number
of incarnations being offered but the sausage chilli fry sharpens
the palate with red hot chilli fumes! Phew! For veggies, the
tender coconut cashew sukke replete with julienne of tender
coconut and cashewnut cooked with onions, tomatoes and Goan
sauce is worth writing home about. I have fallen in love with
this dish so much that in my home it is cooked very often
now. I ended my meal with Goan fish curry - a must have. Kingfish
was perfectly cooked with just enough flaky texture without
turning tough. I soaked the curry in steamed Goan brown rice.
Simply divine. If I forget to mention the best solkadhi in
town I would be committing a blasphemy.
Desserts were forced on me. I cant
blame anybody but myself because to do full justice to a review
I must try! Bibinca with its layers and layers of gooey sweetness
was satisfactory. Frankly too sweet and heavy for my liking.
Inspite of being full to the brim, Jyotsna (my sis-in-law)
and I dug into the caramel custard. Nice and chilled, creamy
and silken. Alyona, my wife, was away in Delhi with our daughters
Rachita and Kriti. In the last ten years this was the only
time when I went out to dinner without her. I missed her.
Deepa and Suhas made each of the guests feel at home by meeting
and talking to them. Best way of getting correct feedback.
Now that the palate has been taken
care of, lets look at the pocket! A couple could well
enjoy the drinks, two starters, two main course dishes, breads
and a couple of desserts for approximately a thousand rupees.
And yes, if you are there on a lucky day of your life, there
could be one of those multifarious discount schemes on!