If I have to describe “Goa” in 1 word, “Adventure” is what comes to my mind. Being a regular Goa visitor every year, I love what It has to offer. Not just the beaches, adventure sports, feni, beer, pubs and clubs but also the innate culture, the faith of the people and of course their simplicity. Though Goa is a tourist destination, I have met the most humble people there and have had the chance of making some great local friends too, the advantage of it being enjoying the local authentic cuisine.
Yes, one might say Goa is all about seafood and not a place for a vegetarian like me! But once being there, you will know the options are endless.
Bringing those memoirs and the authentic cuisine back to my taste buds, our recent visit to Goa Pavilion was one such fun adventure too. The Goa Pavilion at Culture Gully, Kingdom of Dreams is decorated in such a way that it brings out the Goan essence well. A design made with bottles of feni lined up against the wall, it gives a chic feeling to the otherwise simple Portuguese styled ambiance. The Goan numbers playing in the background added to the whole mood and we were all set to get introduced to the menu.
Among the starters, I was served the Konkani Paneer Kappa. With not much of a choice for vegetarian starter, this one was good. But Maneesh recommends the Rawa Fried Prawns. They were crispy and cooked to perfection. While we were busy talking to the Executive Chef Vijendra Singh and laughing at his humorous stories of his journey to becoming a Chef, we didn’t realise we already had finished out starters and the servers had placed clean plates on our table already ( for the main course ). We give thumbs up for the efficient service. As told to us, the servers, the Chef and a lot of people working back in the kitchen were from Goa and they maintain the authentic taste by getting the masalas and a few other ingredients from back home.
A look back at the table, and it was full with all the dishes ready to be served. It looked like “One Big Christmas Feast”. Our recommendations amongst the non vegetarian dishes are the Goan Prawn Curry which Maneesh felt was incredible, and the Chicken Xacuti. Though Goan cuisine or any place near the ocean is all about seafood, and locals eat a lot of King-fish and pork, Goa Pavilion has to cater to different taste buds in Delhi. So a little modification was surely done to the style of cooking, but the taste was no where affected. Amongst the vegetarian, I loved the Beans Sukhi bhaaji ( French beans along with fresh grated coconut – a simple yet great combination ), and the Goan Daal ( which had a hint of sweetness). All this was served along with Goan Paratha and the Goan Rice ( Rice cooked with saffron and coconut ) which are worth a mention too.
We were introduced to the Chef Anand Sawant who manages the Goan kitchen and he was happy to enlighten us with the names of some desserts from his hometown. Thus, served was the “Coconut Pancakes” (a coconut and jaggery filling inside rolled pancakes). This was one flavourful dessert that reminded me of Modak ( made in Maharashtrian cuisine ). The Crème Caramel or caramel custard is my all time favourite. And I had nothing to complain about the one being served! But the show-stopper was kept a surprise to us. The “Badam ka Harira” served in small mud pots was quite attractive. One sip of it, and we knew why it should be had the last! Sweetness kept to perfection, this milk drink had pieces of almonds coming in the mouth with each sip of the drink. The serving ( 200 ml ) is also perfect, not to fill you up too much, and having served lukewarm, it would surely give you a “feel-good” factor for the whole experience.
Indians have been ruled by different dynasties and it has left a mark on the cuisine as well. Hence there is a great diversity in the food and a lot of it is regional too. With only expats and foodies making regular visit to enjoy some different cuisine, Goan cuisine is not a favourite hit amongst Delhiites at the Culture Gully. But I would say, try it once and you are sure to come back again!