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Goan Food

When lost in thought about Goa, the endless beaches, the vibe and most importantly the great seafood and coastal cuisine comes to mind. Goa has been taken over by restaurants and cafes serving such varied dishes from around the world. This so happened to make the traditional cuisine of theirs become relegated to the homes. I mean other than the Cafreal, Vindaloo and Xacuti, it is only now that the other superbly prepared Goan dishes are gaining ground.

This is exactly what excited me about the Goan Food Festival at the Park Hyatt. The food festival helmed by Chef Tanuja from Casa Sarita, Park Hyatt Goa was showcasing the Portuguese influence on Goan food. Now a point that I wanted to iterate is about the way the menu was set-up. Starting off with the regular flavors you’d expect about Goa was the Chicken Jire Mire, a burst of coarsely ground spices of cumin and black pepper. Alongside was the Goan Masala Fried Fish, with the tartness of Goan vinegar, Fenugreek Vegetable Cutlets and Mushroom stuffed with vegetables, cheese and homemade spices. These are the kind of perfect combinations you’d expect to give you company on the sandy beaches alongside a glass of Feni and Limca.

Chicken Jire Mire

Mushrooms stuffed with Vegetable, Cheese and Homemade Spices

Fenugreek Vegetable Cutlets

But it was the Soups and Salads that caught me by surprise. The Kismur, a salad like preparation using dried fish with bell peppers, tomato and coriander was exquisitely wonderful with an eclectic mix of coconut. This might be a little off-putting for a person who’s having dried prawns for the first time but not for my East Indian palate. This is something that we too grew up with and I could relate to the similarities between the two extreme corners of the country. The Cabbage Salad was refreshing while the Caldo Verde Soup was the right showcase of Portuguese influences on Goan food. The Potato and Spinach soup is popular in European cuisines and had slowly seeped into the local food under the Portuguese rule.

Cabbage Salad

 

 

Time for the Main Course and out came the most famous dishes which reverberate Goa. The Goan Prawns Curry with simple rice was relaxing to have and so was the Mushroom Xacuti. I did miss the Poi which had been replaced with Pav over here. After the biggest influence the Portuguese have got into India is the culture of Bread. But the favorite during my meal at the Park Hyatt was the Pork Vindaloo. Not overtly vinegary or spicy, the right mix of fat and meat which turned out to be absolutely brilliant.

Goan Prawns Curry

Mushroom Xacuti

Chicken Cafreal

Bhindi Shukem

A sweet conclusion it truly was with Mangane, a lentil and sago pudding with coconut and jiggery alongside a slice of Bebinca. The Goan Food Festival is on at Park Hyatt Hyderabad till the 21st January as part of the buffet at The Dining Room. However there is a choice of a la carte. The Buffet is priced at Rs 1500++

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Goa offers so much diversity when it comes to food. Goa is not just about shacks, King’s beer and beautiful beaches, but there’s so much that we end up exploring every time we visit Goa. Our last exploration in Goa let us to discover the 10+ different varieties of pao. Apart from the international cuisine that Goa welcomes with its open arms, they also have their own unique style of food.

Goa’s local food is influenced by the Portuguese and Saraswat Hindu and you see local flavors like coconut, vinegar, kokum, wine. Piri Piri – small chilies also play an important role in spicing things up. Hyderabad as such doesn’t have a standalone restaurant for Goan cuisine and opportunities to savor the Goan flavors locally are quite less too. So it was quite exciting to have Chef Anthony D’Souza from Vivanta by Taj – Panaji here to showcase the best of his Goan cuisine right here at Taj Vivanta – Begumpet.

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We started our Goan food journey with Bolinas de batata – veg potato balls with gooey cheese filling. This vegetarian Goan dish was a pleasant delight. Diners around popped up as many 6-7 of these as soon as these arrived on the table. You should definitely not miss these at the festival.  I then moved on to try the different meats at the live station.

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Chicken Jere Mere on Skewer, King fish peri peri. Coupled with beer, these can definitely take you back on the beaches of Goa. Spices along with ginger-garlic, vinegar and chilliest form the base of the marination for these meat and were definitely fresh and delicious. Prawns ravas fry with a Kokum drink served alongside was another one of my favorite among the starters that was perfectly coated and deep fried.

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For main course, a quick walk along the counters and I picked up my all time favorite – Chicken Xacuti and pao. Now anyone who has visited Goa would have tried this dish which is most famous among the Goan curries. A coarse brown curry with a base of ginger-garlic, onion, chilies and coconut goes well with hot rice, pao and in fact any meat that you can lay your hands on. One bite and the flavors reminded me of how much I had missed this dish and I had to go back to Goa soon. But I was happy with the flavor right here in Hyderabad.

I moved on to the next few favorites Goan Fish Curry and Beef Chilly Fry. While the quintessential Goan favorite King’s beer was definitely missed again, hot rice paired with the curry was perfect. Goan fish curry was less spicy but the Beef Chilly Fry was perfectly done.

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I usually don’t eat vegetarian food but looking at the Hindu Goan influenced dishes by the chef, decided to move on to featuring dishes like Varan Bhaat  – rice and dal served along with mix veg mardol, bean foogath which is dry preparation with coconut and beans and channacho ross which was subtle coconut curry. These dishes were definitely less spicy than their Portugues-inspired dish counterparts and the veggies brought out the freshness of the coconut and the kokum that it was cooked with.

Moving on to the desserts, decided to have a bite of Bebinca, the multi-layered Goan dessert. Featuring on the dessert menu was also the Doce, a chickpea and coconut sweet.

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The Goan Food Festival at Viva, Vivanta by Taj is on till the 2nd of October along with the regular buffet at Viva. The menu shall be changing every day to feature so as to showcase many more of the Goan dishes,

 

 

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