What’s not to love about the southern state of Kerala? Perhaps India’s prettiest state, it’s tranquil backwaters, endless coconut groves, green-face-painted Kathakali dancers and seafood define the region.

In Chakala (Andheri), a restaurant with an unassuming appearance attempts to bring the flavours of Kerala into Amchi Mumbai. ‘Just Kerala’ is located close to the Bisleri Factory, inside Hotel Samraj and serves delectable, vibrant south Indian fare.

AMBIENCE
just kerala restaurant

While it doesn’t appear so at first glance, the hotel has valet parking with cordial staff out front. Once in the lobby, make your way to the restaurant on the 2nd floor. On entering, you’ll find that the restrained white décor is refreshingly different. Floor to ceiling windows with strategically placed potted palms give the place an instant bright appeal. The décor is coherrent – having a large, polished bar with a textured white finish and matching white chairs, table runners and ivory sofas. A traditional lamp somewhere in the centre is the only stand-alone object you will find.

SERVICE

I was very impressed with the service at Just Kerala. The waiters were knowledgable, courteous and well spoken. They recited complicated dish names like Lobia Ulathiyathu and mezhukkupuratti with ease, as I struggled to get the spelling right on my notepad. Food, not only on my table, but also on tables surrounding mine came promptly and they were attentive to even guests sitting in the corners of the restaurant.

FOOD

For me, an unfamiliar menu is great fun as I love to figure out what’s what. This one was well written and while the names of the dishes are long and complicated, the descriptions are well written providing enough explanation yet leaving a little for guesswork. Also, it is worth mentioning that this is the only restaurant serving Kerala cuisine and possessing a liquor license.

Parippu Vada

There’s nothing sadder than soggy vadas! And this one set the tone absolutely right for the rest of the meal! Super crunchy on the outside and soft + tasty on the inside, they are made with a coarse paste of soaked chana dal, onions, ginger-garlic and spices! These once used to be my morning snack before work, since there used to be a seller just outside my office – and I could never resist that rustic texture and hearty flavour, especially on rainy days!

parippu vada just kerala

Surmai Fish Fry

Being Goan, fried fish is something that swims in my blood. Surmai, being a flavourful fish doesn’t need much added to it to make it a knock-out side-dish. While in Goa, we like it crumb fried, Just Kerala fried it after coating it with some awesome traditional spices and chillies, ginger-garlic and showered it with ground pepper. The red masala infused right through the fish and it was deliciously tangy and delicate!

surmai fish fry just kerala

Chicken Malabar Curry

The thing about the coastal area is that even though all communities use the same ingredients, the style of cooking and spices used give it a while new dimension. This vivacious spicy chicken curry was finger-licking good and had that typical South Indian flavour thanks to the addition of luscious coconut milk and complex spice mix. I enjoyed it with some traditional rice chapatis, called appams!

malabar chicken curry just kerala

Coconut chicken

This was my favourite of the lot. I love coconut in everything and the coconut here was so strong that I just couldn’t stop eating it! It was a semi dry dish packed with spices that were softened with the gentle touch of coconut. It was a little too oily for my liking, and if it wasn’t for that, the dish would have been heavenly!

coconut chicken just kerala

Long pieces of fresh coconut was amply added in with small chunks of chicken. The meat was so juicy and coconut flavour was so intense, it made me feel like I was on a tropical vacation to Kerala! And the best part is that it wasn’t sweet – like most coconut based dishes are – but had the powerful backing of ground spices. Don’t miss this addictive dish for sure!

Thali /Sadhya

You can’t go to a Kerala restaurant and not order a traditional thali served on a banana leaf! The amount of food on these always leaves me overwhelmed – but it’s more to do with the variety than than the quantity. Just Kerala is the only restaurant to serve Sadhya and it is interesting to note that they even deliver Sadhya to offices nearby for lunch – however, not with all 13-15 items – but with 5.

Just kerala chakala andheri

You can opt for an unlimited vegetarian Sadhya or go for the non-veg one, which is basically the same thing substituted with chicken or fish curry instead of veg curry. A jaw-dropping amount of Kerala boiled rice was served with Sambar Rasam, a watery, tangy-sour curry of sorts made using tamarind, tomato and pieces of drumsticks.

sadhya thali just kerala

A Sadhya isn’t complete without the quintessential Kerala classic, avial, or mixed vegetable seasoned with coconut oil and curry leaves. And apart from that, it also featured a veg dish made of suran (yams), Thoran (vegetable stir-fry), mezhukkupuratti (long beans), travancore chicken curry, a dish made of roasted black beans (lobia ulathiyathu), a delicious raw banana-curd side dish, ghee, banana chips, papad, pickle and buttermilk. A small bowl of vermicelli sevaiyan was served too. Like normal thalis, the items served differ everyday, however, the plethora of items, each with its own distinct taste, keeps it interesting.

To say this was filling would be an understatement. But Sadhya is an all-round healthy meal and although it leaves you stuffed at first, it gets digested pretty quickly and doesn’t leave you feeling sluggish.

Asda Payassam

The dessert menu comprised of a fair amount of Indian desserts such as Rasgulla and Gulab Jamun. In terms of authentic Kerala desserts, there were only Seviyan Payassam and Ada Payassam. I had already tried the former when it came as a part of the thali, so I ordered for the Ada Payassam – comprised of jaggery and flat rice in sweetened milk. I’m not a fan of jaggery so I wasn’t raving about this. I wish the menu had a bit more variety like maybe Unniyapam, Chatti Pathiri and Bonda.

asda payassam

Just Kerala so far hasn’t got the attention it deserves and except from the office-goes around it and the mallu community. If you’re wondering whether they serve the meat that must not be named, not exactly, but they do serve meat from other members of the bovine family.

Here’s where you can find them:

Address – Hotel Samraj, Chakala Road, Chakala, Mumbai

Cost for 2 – Rs. 900 for 2 (excluding drinks)

Get a true taste of God’s Own Country at Just Kerala and if you do happen to go, let me know what you think by dropping me a line on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Bye!

How are you doing, guys?

After a quiet monsoon season of catching up on work and building my marketing agency, I’ve suddenly found myself drowning in blog posts. Just two months ago, things seemed to have stagnated and this blog, That Goan Girl, seemed to have plateaued. But post my trip home to Goa, where I reviewed at least half a dozen restaurants, I’m back in Mumbai and it’s literally raining collaborations and feature requests again. While my pickiness about who I feature here and talk to you about does filter a lot of brands/restaurants out, there are quite a few that are worth talking about.

Pa Pa Ya is one of them! Casual, yet fine-dining, luxurious, yet edgy, Zorawar Kalra’s restaurant has been on my radar for the longest time. His other restaurants, Masala Library and Farzi Cafe are both mighty impressive, and employ the concept of molecular gastronomy, of which, he is the master.

pa pa ya ambience

AMBIENCE

I’ve peeked in at Pa Pa Ya’s Lower Parel outlet as I’ve walked past on many occasions and boy, does it ooze glamour! My review was held at the Colaba outlet and it was just as chic! This dimly lit modern Asian bistro had touches of crimson and an ample amount of their hexagon motifs everywhere. While downstairs is much more spacious, especially with the high ceiling, it is not quite the case upstairs.

pa pa ya ambience colaba

SERVICE

The service was quick, the staff was knowledgeable, but for the life of me, I couldn’t understand a word my waiter said. He literally spoke so fast that after a couple of dishes arrived, whenever I saw him approach with something new, I kept the menu ready for him to simply point out what the dish was. Anyway, I can’t deny that the knowledge was all there, because whenever I asked him what seasoning was used, he would rattle off without any hesitation.

FOOD

What makes Zorawar Kalra’s many restaurants stand out is that for the longest time, he’s been redefining what it means to cook ‘authentic’ food. Not quite traditional, not quite modern, most of the food plays with flavors from other cultures, creating an entirely new take on cuisines that have long remained the same. His brilliant knowledge of molecular gastronomy and one look at the menu confirms that here too, it’s all about experimentation. Here’s what I tried from the long and confusing 16-page menu.

Crispy Lotus Root – We were first brought the Amuse Bouche – a basil compressed watermelon in lemongrass and chilly foam served on a seashell with some smoking dry ice below. It popped like a bubble bursting in my mouth and released all its delicious flavour, making way for the Lotus Root that was brought quickly after.

crispy lotus roots

Sticky, sweet, slightly caramelized and just a slight hint of spice! The crispy lotus root from Pa Pa Ya is so crispy, you can break it with a satisfying *snap*

I’m so addicted to crispy starters, and this one was no exception! It came with a cool, creamy avocado dip for balance.

Sushi Tree – Sushi lovers like myself have often wished that this Japanese staple would grow on trees, and at Pa Pa Ya, they do! Various types of colourful nigiri are placed on the branches of this wooden tree and at the base are pickled ginger and wasabi. Apart from the traditional tuna and salmon sushi with caviar on top, there were two interesting nigiri as well. I particularly liked the ‘carbon sushi with rice balls’ which are coloured jet black with squid ink and had rice-crispy-balls on top for crunch. Another great ‘fruit’ of the tree was spicy tuna roll with seaweed that had a 7 powdered-spice mix coated on the sides. Loved every bite!

sushi tree pa pa ya colaba

sushi tree pa pa ya

Lamb and Mandarin Bee Hun – This looked like a piece of art! Translucent steamed potato and rice wrappers stuffed with mandarin flavoured lamb was cooked to perfection. It was served with a tiny bit of black bean sauce which worked wonders in elevating the dish.

lamb mandarin bee hun

Kale and Pakchoy Gaozi – This may be a hit with the vegetarians, but I wasn’t a fan. The delicate mushroom parcels were served with a crispy-starchy potato shell. Presentation wise it was quite messy – random splotches of sauce on the plate with microgreens strewn around carelessly. The waiter suggested rolling the mushroom in the papad-like coverings and while that added texture, it was pretty strange, I must admit.

Beet Infused Dim Sum – A colourful twist to dimsum, Pa Pa Ya kept it natural with bright pink beet infused wrappers stuffed with sautéed leeks, chestnuts, celery and spring onions. It was served with yuzu soya foam on top as garnish and looked refreshingly different. The flavours here seemed very Indian and it could be the use of spices. It was good, but not wow. What saved it for me was that texture wise, silken wrappers paired with the crispy filling was interesting.

beet infused dimsum pa pa ya

Pla Samrot Gung – I looove sweet-and-sour flavour profiles so the Pla Samrot Gung was a hit in my books. You may find the flavour here overlapping with many of the dishes on the menu though. Plump tiger prawns were coated in piquant Thai sauce, served on a bed of pea sauce with a beautiful dehydrated slice of pineapple for garnish which was dry and chewy at the same time. Ah-mazing!

pla samrot gung pa pa ya

Pork Belly Skewers – Again, mildly sweet but oh, how buttery!! This is Pa Pa Ya’s version of Japanese Pork Belly Skewers and it is glazed with mirin and soy sauce. Chargrilled, slightly sticky and utterly melt-in-your-mouth good, this was simply irresistible. Check out the presentation!

pork skewers papaya

pork skewers pa pa ya

Wasabi Rice – Not something I’d ordinarily order, but I’ve had some good luck going with the staff’s suggestions and once again, this one was a win! Don’t let the name scare you away, this dish won’t set your nostrils aflame. The rice is slightly sticky, fragrant and with an ever-so-slight tinge of wasabi. The tiny diced bell peppers added colour and bite to it.

wasabi rice pa pa ya

Lamb Rendang Curry – Its hard picking a favourite dish here, but this one came out tops. To call the meat ‘tender’ would be an understatement – it literally fell off the bone at the slightest touch. That gravy, guys!! Mind blowing! Infused with strong spices with a dash of coconut cream, it was irresistible I didn’t like the lachha paratha it was served with, but then I like my rotis fully cooked – so it comes down to personal taste on that front. Definitely don’t leave Pa Pa Ya without digging into this one.

lamb rendang pa pa ya

Pad Thai Noodles – Unlike the other items that were either sweet-ish or rich, this one was quite basic in comparison. Tossed noodles with scrambled egg, peanuts and capsicum and slightly on the oily side.

pad thai noodles pa pa ya

Braised Sliced Chicken in Chilly Sauce – As I write this, around a fortnight after visiting Pa Pa Ya, nothing about this dish stands out. I’d definitely skip this on the next visit because there are stellar items on the menu and this one doesn’t quite match up.

chicken chilly sauce pa pa ya

Flaming Chocolate Ball – Pa Pa Ya’s signature dessert has very ordinary elements put together to form a whimsical creation. Scoops of ice cream inside a chocolate ball, some cookie crumble, nuts, whipped cream, orange liqueur, chunks of chocolate brownie and a bit of chocolate ganache. It is set ablaze with 15 mls of alcohol and the blue flames slowly reveal the ice cream within. Taste-wise it wasn’t Pa Pa Ya worthy, but it did add some theatre! The video of its sapphire blue flames are on my Instagram page.

flaming chocolate ball pa pa ya

At Pa Pa Ya, the food speaks, and how! It is a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. The restaurant takes any notions you have of Asian Food and turns it around, giving you an experience you’ll never forget.

Address: Hotel Diplomat, Whitehouse Building, 24-26, B. K. Boman Behram Marg, Apollo, Bund, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001

Cost for 2: Rs. 3000/-

See you next time! Until then, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and check out my last posts on The Oak Barrel and Caravela Cafe

xoxo

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

Remote, outworldly, spellbinding!

The glistening ice-clad peaks and acres upon acres of white have has caused Antartica to be on the bucket list of scores of travellers. I’m sure that Antartica, even in my wildest imagination can’t compare to its actual beauty and the overwhelming power of nature in reality. A landscape dotted with adorable penguins, the sounds of bellowing elephant seals and the ice cracking as the ship sails ahead, the rush of ice-cold wind…

Seems ethereal, doesn’t it?

pexels-photo-258112

Antarctica is a land of inspiration and soul-awakening. In fact, ‘trip-of-a-lifetime’ somehow seems like a lame cliché to describe it, but it’s the closest we’ll ever get. Cruises have made it possible, and even comfortable for visitors to experience the sheer size and grandeur of Antarctica, and while there are many of these, the Q seems to stand out.

Through The Q Experiences a luxury cruise, Le Soleal will be transporting 200 Indians to answer the mysterious call of the South. Departing from Ushuaia, the city at the edge of the world, on the 9th of December, this 11-day cruise will take guests through the Drake Passage, named after the first daring voyager to venture into these waters.

Two days into the journey, visitors will feast their eyes on the South Pole in the distance, growing larger as they approach and on Day 4, they will get to experience Neko Bay. On Day 5 and 6, they venture to land again, in the unforgiving cold. Weather permitting, they will visit Pleneau Island, an ice-covered, desolate place that is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Day 7 takes visitors to Deception Island, which is steeped in history, being a port that has served as a base for seal hunters, but is also a whaling station and a research centre.

They begin sailing away on Day 8 and slowly, traces of Antarctica begin to fade on Day 9 and 10. On day 11, the air feels different as they make their way back to Argentina from where, if guests wish, they can stay back and visit other breath-taking sights on their own – Machu Pichu, the Amazon, the Galapagos Islands and the Andes.

All through the journey, a team of chefs will be hard at work to ensure guests dine on food worthy of a luxury cruise. Chef Atul Kochhar, a 2 star Michelin Chef will oversee Indian food alongside his counterparts catering to other cuisines. I recently got the chance to have a chat with him and his excitement was contagious! He is also thrilled to be going to work alongside Chef Allain Ducasse, the godfather of French cuisine.

soya kheema kulcha the q experiences

“For the French,” Chef Atul says, “Indian food is just curry. I want to showcase how extensive our palate is.” He adds, “every journey teaches me something and I want to see what this one teaches me.”

food thewhitecontinent.com

Chef Atul tells me that preparations are already underway for the mammoth journey and his dry ingredients have been dispatched to South America. The fresh produce will be bought before boarding the ship and will last him 3-4 days. Then, as fresh produce stocks deplete, he will be challenged to satisfy the demands of the passengers with dry ingredients. He laughingly says that as produce depletes, that’s when Indian cravings start kicking in – and people crave some dal and rice, vada pao or butter chicken. And he looks forward to meeting these demands in the most creative way possible.

atul kochhar the q antactica

Some of the dishes I sampled included Soya Kheema Kulcha, Lapeth Thoka, Rajma Chawal Tikki, Coronation Chicken, Carrot Baklava and White Chocolate Brownie.
dessert luxury cruise antarctica

While sailing to the white continent with Q Experiences seems unlikely at this time, at least my taste buds got to travel to the white continent!

Oh well, maybe someday!

If you’d like to know more, check out the White Continent website

Bye!!

Whew!

I’ve finally come to the end of my string of restaurant reviews in Goa. From Tio Tillys to Yaki Zushi, Marriott to Grand Hyatt, Caravela Cafe to Cluck Tales – this trip sure had me piling on the kilos.

the oak barrel

However, I was certain that I left the best for last when I checked out The Oak Barrel in Miramar with my brother one evening. Situated a few minutes before the Miramar Circle, the restaurant is fairly new and hard to miss as you drive past.

oak barrel goa interiors

The Oak Barrel caters to the older generation. On the day we visited, multiple tables had, what looked like 30-year-classmate-reunions happening. The energy, laughter and merriment was truly contagious.

AMBIENCE

The two-level restaurant has warm, tasteful interiors with a very relaxed ‘lounge’ feel to it. Downstairs the tables have high-stools, whereas upstairs the seating options vary between long couches for large groups and very low chairs for parties of twos and threes. The chairs aren’t the comfiest in the world, especially for tall folks like we are.

oak barrel restaurant

A glitzy bar greets you as you enter and as you make your way upstairs, you’ll find a waist-high glass-paneled cubicle in the center from where one could stand and look down over the bar. This area had beautiful paper lanterns in all shapes and sizes and added some romance and colour to the otherwise earthy space. Lovely!!

the oak barrel panjim goa

There were live crooners, Adrian and Dylan, the day I visited and they belted out one nostalgic hit after the other. Literally every table was singing along to MLTR songs. It almost seemed like one big jam-up session.

oak barrel goa live music

SERVICE

Kudos to the service staff! They were so prompt, attentive and experienced. I have to mention the young restaurant manager, Nathan, who handled the entire restaurant seamlessly, while finding time to mingle with each table and even serve patrons their meals. Complete hands-on attitude.

FOOD

Being a Pan Asian Restaurant, the menu is a mix of Thai, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese food and the like. Nathan tells me that the food here doesn’t promise to be authentic, but it does promise to deliver on taste without compromising on the quality of ingredients. So while you won’t find “bland soupy” South East Asian fare in all its authenticity, you can sample some Indo-style twists that are more suited to the Indian palate.

Go Green + Passion Hunter – The cocktails were turned into mocktails for us teetotallers. I tried the Green Apple, a drink made with cucumber and green apple. Clean flavours, very hydrating and you could feel the coolness with every sip. My brother picked the Passion Hunter which was basically a mojito with passion fruit extract. Again, it was quite refreshing and tropical and we kept sipping each other’s drinks throughout.

Prawn Har Ghao – How good do these look? Prawn Har Gao are also known as crystal shrimp dumplings because the chunks of shrimp can be seen through the translucent wrapping. Being minimally spiced, you can taste all the fresh, juicy flavours. If you like momos, you’ll love these!

prawn hargao oak barrel goa

Exotic Veg Dimsum – Emerald green in colour and with such a gorgeous sheen! These were the first green dimsums I’ve seen and they taste as appetizing as they look. Just like the prawn har ghao, these were super juicy, yet firm. I couldn’t help but notice that even though I picked one up so many times to get that perfect photograph, it didn’t break apart like most do.

exotic veg dimsum oak barrel goa

Got to mention those sauces though – the dimsum was served with three sauces that were just spectacular! It’s hard to choose a favourite but the honey-pepper sauce had just a little more edge. I could drink that bowl of dipping sauce and I’m not even kidding!

Tossed Mushroom Trio – Every bite holds something new because this dish has so many textures. I bet I probably had a quizzical expression when I tried the Tossed Mushroom Trio because it just kept me guessing throughout. Succulent, buttery button mushroom, chewy Shittake, jelly-like-yet-crunchy black fungus mushroom, spongy-looking yet unusually crispy white fungus mushroom and smooth straw mushrooms all tossed in mild spices. It’s a party in your mouth!

Home style Pork – This one would pair well with drinks for sure. It was dry and just the right amount of salty to make it a perfect dish for a rainy day! Don’t think too much about ordering this one, it would make a good side dish for just about any rice-curry dish you order.

home style pork the oak barrel goa

Laksa – More like Khao Suey than Laksa, but there is a fine line between the two. This one-pot-wonder will strike every single tastebud with its vibrant flavour. Thick, luscious coconut-milk-based gravy with just a tinge of an elaborate spice mix loaded with noodles, veggies, chicken cubes and egg, garnished with tofu. I’ve always said that if something could be called a bowl of happiness, this would be it!

laksa the oak barrel goa

Massaman Curry and Jasmine Rice – The flavours slightly overlapped with the Laksa, but then again, this was a coconut-milk based gravy dish too. I’ve saved the best for last here and still thank my stars that Nathan recommended the Massaman Curry to us. This one deserves an Oscar! The lamb was meltingly tender, the curry was luxurious, complex, flavourful and we just couldn’t stop eating it, even after being so stuffed. Paired with some sticky jasmine rice, this was divine!

Coconut Caramel Custard – I didn’t think that the quintessential caramel custard could get any better, but the delicious hint and smell of coconut made it downright irresistible. We couldn’t stop digging in!

coconut caranel custard theioakbarrel

Homemade Ice Cream – We tried two flavours, cinnamon and coconut-jaggery and hands-down vote for the coconut! Dense, not too sweet and the taste takes centre stage.

Such a gem, this place! We left so pleased and satisfied! If you’re in Goa, definitely check them out and thank me later!

Address: The Oak Barrel. Near the Times Building. Dayanand Bandodkar Marg, Miramar, Panjim, Goa 

Cost for 2: Rs. 1,200/-

Got any restaurants or hotels you think I should feature on That Goan Girl? Drop me a comment or holla on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and I’ll be glad to drop by!

xoxo

Jade

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

If you’re wondering where Caravela Café is, you’d be surprised to know that you’ve most definitely driven past it as you enter Panjim. I have too! We’ve passed it countless times, and a split second glance into one of the lanes would have led you to this gem of a place that’s hidden from plain sight and known for serving all-day English breakfasts. A few surrounding landmarks include Marc Brown Café and the small, unavoidable petrol pump besides the Mandovi, from where you go straight towards Kala Academy or turn left to get into the main city.

caravela cafe panjim goa

The Caravela Café began to provide the guests residing at Caravela Home Stay, a few seconds away, a place to dine. Even today, guests come to the café to avail of their complimentary buffet breakfast but the tiny café also caters to walk-ins.

Whether you’re looking for a quick breakfast spot on a harried Monday morning or prepping to enjoy a Sunday brunch feast, Caravela Café has something for every mood and occasion, without compromising on quality.

cafe caravela goa

AMBIENCE

This small, cosy all-day café is quite charming in its shades of yellow and brown with innumerable knick-knacks, curios and teacups on shelves that look just like those your grandmother used to have. Various posters quip their love for coffee in witty one-liners, providing for some amusing reading material as you sip your brew. The building itself has one of those old Portuguese style exteriors but the distinct vintage charm is maintained inside in small details like the striped tablecloth and furniture.

caravela cafe coffee

4 tables compactly fit in the outer room whereas the inner room is a little larger and spaced out. The juxtaposition of old and new is present here, the new being the sleek coffee machines brewing fresh coffee.

coffee at caravela goa

SERVICE

The owner of the restaurant, Carlos, and his father were around when I visited and offered suggestions on what to order. While I was there, another two tables filled up, and I noticed that as each new customer arrived, they found the food on a nearby diner’s table interesting, thus ordering the same. There seem to be a few crowd favourites at Café Caravela and dishes come to the table quickly.

FOOD

The café has a wide selection of brekkie items, the most popular being the all-day breakfasts. You can also choose from among cornflakes, soups served with pao, Snacks (Goan sausage bread, croquettes, potato chops), Sandwiches (BLT, tuna and cheese, ham, etc), salads, pasta, pizza, Goan specials such as Pork Balchao, Chicken Cafreal, Xacuti and Fejoida. Juices and teas were available. Coffee lovers are in for a treat as Caravela Café has a separate menu for coffees, featuring various kinds of beans and blends so you can personalize the depth and flavour of your drink.

While desserts were on the menu, they didn’t have the Serra Durra I asked for, hence continuing my streak of bad luck with desserts in Goa this time around.

The All-Day Breakfast

English Breakfasts have stood the test of time, and for me, is synonymous with a holiday. We can’t indulge in them every day, because, they aren’t the healthiest thing in the world – so when you do have one, make sure it’s amazing! The English breakfast features bacon, sausage, a hash brown, baked beans, tomato, sliced bread and eggs, your way. Wash it all down with a glass of juice and a hot beverage which is included. It all comes together to make a breakfast that’s better than the sum of its delicious parts!

all day english breakfast caravela cafe

Prawn Rissois – Have you even lived if you haven’t tried Prawn Ressois? They are YUM… no, really, they’re YUM!! Addictive, actually! After nice, crispy beef patties, this is my favourite Goan snack (and sometimes the only reason I go to Café Xavier in Mapusa *confession*). So thrilled that I found them in Panjim, too, and they were just as great. This delicate breaded pastry are bite-sized, slightly crunchy on the outside and filled with a delicious melt-in-your-mouth prawn filling inside.

rissois caravela cafe

P.S. Anyone know where I can get these in Mumbai?

Nutella and Banana Pancakes

While pancakes aren’t written on Café Caravela’s menu, there are signboards indicating that they are served with a couple of topping options. I was tempted to try the Banana and Nutella pancake and was quite liked them – warm, fluffy, tasted homemade and had those nice crispy edges I like.

I got a small bowl full of nutella on the side – always a good thing, however I wished that it would have been slightly warm so that it would have been easier to drizzle it on top. I’d order it again at brunch, tea-time, or whenever those sugar cravings hit.

WHAT I LIKED

Value for money – Compared to a lot of breakfast places, these prices were super reasonable! 4 croquettes/rissois at Rs. 50, Soups and omletes below Rs. 100, cold coffee at Rs. 50 (what!), the All Day Caravela breakfast at Rs. 325 – steals, right? Fingers crossed it stays that way!

The range of coffees – Parama, Sattva and Aromatique are three choices of single-estate artisan, freshly ground coffees available and they are quite good!

The idyllic vibe!

WHAT COULD BE BETTER

Desserts – C’mon people, are you conspiring to get me off desserts? Third restaurant in a row to not have them!

Some healthier options – such as oats, porridge and salad bowls. Since they have Goan items on the menu, some omlete ros would be great too! … and waffles!

 

Address: 27, 31st January Road, Panaji, Goa

Cost for two: Rs 500 approx

 

That wraps up my tiny tasting session at Café Caravela! Stay tuned to my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for more delicious pictures!

Until next time!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

You know what to expect with a name like ‘Cluck Tales’ – chicken served in a myriad of ways. Judging by the response to my Instagram and Facebook posts, a lot of you have already been here when it was under the reign of another chef for the last year and a half.

clucktales goa

But there’s a flurry of change happening at Cluck Tales right now – the onboarding of chef Vasquito, a passionate guy who aspires to take the place to new heights with his well-thought-out plans, a menu upgrade and a lot of new introductions.  His goal is to make it even more convenient for students and working professionals to stop by for an affordable meal.

AMBIENCE

Located in the building opposite Don Bosco’s, Panjim, Clucktales is hard to miss and there are signboards directing you up to the first floor. Once inside, the first thing you’ll see is a display of the decadent-looking desserts! The restaurant is quite bright and spacious with warm lighting and double heighted windows overlooking the street outside. I liked the mix of wooden panelling on the walls and bottle green furniture – it had a nice upscale barn feel going on. It gives you a homely feeling right away and is a welcome break from that so-modish industrial chic décor that’s the rage these days.

cluck tales ambiance

A half-heighted exposed brick wall lets you have a peek into the kitchen. I also checked out the mezzanine floor which is much larger and has a lot more tables for celebrating occasions that have a longer guest-list.

cluck tales goa

SERVICE

We had a very pleasant, smiling waitress cater to us, though a little absent-minded. Chef Vasquito came out and spent some time talking about the new menu he has planned for Cluck Tales and gave me an insight into how he cooks using lava stone.

cluck tales goa ambiance

FOOD

Naturally, the menu is highly skewed toward chicken. Starters, a few vegetarian mains, Cluck Tales’ lava stone chicken with your choice of marinade, beverages and dessert sums it up! The chef plans to amp up the menu and they have mentioned the addition of beef, pork and fish items in the menu on their Facebook page recently. That may steer away from the name ‘Cluck Tales’ and reputation they’ve built so far, but let’s see how that goes.

Here’s what I tried:

Apple Pear Mint Cooler and Chocolate Milkshake

Since my first two choices of drinks weren’t available, I ordered the apple pear mint cooler and Chocolate milkshake. Both disappointed. Apart from the rich brown colour the milkshake had, there was no taste of chocolate whatsoever. The cooler was equally dismal.

Hummus and Pita

I doubt you’d have tried hummus and mushroom together – I haven’t seen it on menus anywhere so far. The dish was a twist on traditional Israeli hummus, yet still maintained its status as ‘health food.’ The mushroom added a nice savoury meaty texture and those caramelized onions added just the right amount of sweetness. Overall, a flavour-packed makeover for hummus and I wiped the plate clean with the pita!

hummus and pita clucktales goa

Chicken Burger

Nothing much to cluck about… it was a decent burger. I just wish it had been a little more exciting. Some more caramelized onions or onion ring inside, cheese, bacon, maybe a fried egg… you know what I’m saying? Something to make it more than “just okay.”

chicken burger clucktales goa

Lava Stone Peri Peri Chicken

What sets Cluck Tales apart is their technique of ‘lava stone’ cooking where chicken is grilled and then roasted on lava stone which is essentially a pre-heated hot stone. It is a healthier form of cooking and creates a little bit of theatre, just like a live BBQ or tandoor would. I tried the Piri Piri chicken and while I loved the tasty outer bits, the inside seemed a little dry. Mashed potatoes and potato wedges were on point!

clucktales lava stone chicken

Chocolate Custard Éclair

Finally, FINALLY got to try some desserts. I sorely missed them at the last two places I tried out – Tio Tilly’s and Yaki Zushi.  This was a soft choux pastry pumped full of thick, custard cream and covered in chocolate ganache. It had the most indulgent rich custard pastry cream inside without being overly sweet. Such a beauty!

chocolate eclair clucktales

Apple Strudel

Goa, the strudel of your dreams has finally arrived! Another winning treat right here! The pastry was gorgeous, flaky and each bite sent me to 7th heaven! There was generous cinnamon spiced apple pieces in every bite, and it came with some sweet English cream to seal the deal. I only wish it was a little bigger! Don’t miss out on this one for sure!

apple strudel cluck tales goa WHAT I LOVED

 

Desserts – duh! I’ve heard and read about people praising the dessert more than the food and they’re so right!

The lava-stone menu – Plenty of sauces and marinades to choose from so there’s something for everyone.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER

More variety – Crispy fried KFC-style chicken, chicken stroganoff, Thai grilled chicken, kebabs etc. Rather than veering off into new proteins altogether, I felt that more additions to their chicken-inspired menu would be the natural way to go.

The drinks need serious attention!

Address: 1st Floor, Edcon Incrocio, Opp Don Bosco School Main Gate, MG Road, Panjim, Goa 403001

Cost for 2: Rs. 700

Two more Panjim restaurants to be featured on the blog soon – Cafe Caravela and The Oak Barrel!

Oh, I’ve been thinking of doing area-wise posts on places I try out just like I did for Vasai, Mumbai. Think that’s a good idea? Comment below and let me know!

Cya soon!

xoxo

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

A lot of folks from the Saligao-Sangolda-Porvorim area, and even beyond would have dined at Alua, Salgolda. Back in the day (getting old, I know), there weren’t a lot of dining options in Saligao, my hometown, and almost every occasion would be celebrated with lunch or dinner at Alua.

Hailing from the Alua family, Chef Amory D’souza started a restaurant of his own in the very same property called Yaki Zushi. Chef Amory has worked in some of Goa’s best hotels and soaked up all he could when Japanese chefs came to visit the kitchens of these hotels. He understood the value of good quality seafood when it comes to Japanese cuisine and picked up all the techniques to enhance his experience.

yaki zushi goa

AMBIENCE

The red and black themed restaurant leans more towards modern sensibilities than tradition, however it has a lot of oriental themed décor in places. Hanging paper lamps, bamboo accents and an intricate Japanese panelled door cut-out framing the entrance are a few of them. The only giveaway is the large Portuguese-Goan shell windows that add a bit of the Indo feel to the Asian restaurant. I visited during the day and sat in the spacious restaurant outside for more natural light.

SERVICE

Apart from my table and another, there were no customers that day, perhaps since it was on the afternoon of a weekday. The service was prompt and quick but servers tended to mutter the dishes they were bringing out and it wasn’t really audible most of the time. They were keen and offered help at a single glance.

FOOD

Yaki Zushi is making a name for itself as the best Sushi place in Goa. Apart from Japanese, it also serves some fabulous Thai and Chinese food. South-East-Asian fare can be a put off for many since it is riddled with ideas of being bland, raw and if you want quality, expensive. Yaki Zushi turns all that around with items that suit every palate and suggests dishes based on the diner’s openness to trying out new things.

The menu features a mix of local favourites and traditional items such as Manchaow Soup, Tom Kha Soup, starters such as pork chilli, wantons, thai chicken wings; dimsum, sushi, nigiri, sashimi, tempenyaki, rices and noodles.

Here’s what I tried:

Guava Mary

The bar menu is vast has a little of every spirit you could think of. They have a decent selection of cocktails and mocktails. I picked the Guava Mary, a mocktail made of guava juice, lime and tobacco sauce. I quite enjoyed it but wish the straw was bigger so all the herbs wouldn’t keep getting stuck in it. I couldn’t help notice how the straw was shaped like a bamboo shoot. Attention to detail – I like that!

Spicy Crab Meat Soup

Thick and piping hot – just the way soup should be! Soft chunks of crab continually made its presence felt in every bite and I could get a mild taste of rice wine. However, it’s creamy appearance was deceptive since the heat was so overwhelming! I do have a moderate tolerance for spice, but this made me feel like one of Denarys’ fire-breathing dragons (waddup, GoT reference!) Order if you dare!

spicy crab meat soup yaki zushi

Satay Kai

Totally fell in love with this starter! Slightly crispy chicken was skewered on sticks and had a delicious, mild taste of mustard oil. Complete lip-smacker, this one – and it came with a side of peanut sauce. The flavour combo worked so well together! Kids will definitely enjoy it.

satay kai yaku zushi

satay kai yaki zushi

Prawn Sushi Roll

The menu comprises of sushi options for all kinds of people –the die-hard fans and those who for whom the thought of sushi is a complete turn off. Chef Amory and his team try to figure out where you stand on the ‘sushi-meter’ and suggest either authentic sushi dishes or ones that can gradually wean you in to the cuisine.

I tried Prawn Sushi and while I love the taste and flavour of raw (cured) fish, this one was slightly different. The prawns were coated in delicious crispy tempura batter before being rolled in sticky rice. Thereafter, sesame seeds sprinkle on top added more texture. This dish is a must-try for sushi lovers and newbies alike.

prawn tempura sushi yaki zushi

Norweigian Salmon Ceviche

Yaki Zushi imports most of its fish from Norway and the quality is apparent! I got a small tasting portion of the Norwegian Salmon – which is essentially raw salmon cured in citrus juice with their special seasoning. The ultra-thin layers of fish were so plump and juicy and soaked up all the refreshing zingy flaours so it had a beautiful salty-sweet taste. It came with a small mound of pickled ginger to be eaten sparingly with the fish.

Prawn Teppenyaki

Although I visited Yaki Zushi weeks ago, I can still taste that delicious sauce as if I just ate it for dinner. This BBQ-style dish was stellar! Jumbo-sized prawns were butterflied, grilled and doused in awesome sweet-sticky sauce. Crispy, soft, garlic, honey – all the textures and flavours were spot on! You won’t go wrong ordering this, for sure!

prawn tempenyaki

Chicken Sizzler

I wouldn’t have ordinarily picked a sizzler in a restaurant known for Asian food, but it was presented to me to try. While the chicken was great, the rice was quite dry. I’d suggest passing on the sizzler and gorging on some pad thai, pork chilli or sushi (of course) instead.

sizzler yaki zushi

WHAT I LOVED

The prawn tempura sushi and prawn tempenyaki – go ahead and give it a try!

Good portions of food per dish at a reasonable cost

Personalized recommendations – It’s not every day you come across a restaurant that’s so dedicated to a cuisine, that they do their best to ease you into it.

WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED

The menus were in not-so-great condition and could do with a revamp

P.S – here’s a shot of me goofing around 🙂

thatgoangirlSadly, I didn’t get a chance to sample the desserts since the restaurant was closing for the afternoon. Anyway, the place is so close to home that I may drop in again to try some.

Meal for 2 – Rs. 1000 approx

Address – Shop 251, Bella Vista Waddo, Near Alua. Sangolda, Goa

Let me know if you liked this review! Lots more coming up! Follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a preview of the next one!

Until then!

xoxo

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

If you drive along the Candolim-Sinquerim Road, you’ll undoubtedly see a series of new restaurants that have replaced ones you’ve dined at before. There’s literally no stretch of road in Goa that has a dining scene as booming as this one, and it continues to flourish, enticing those seeking a food-binge. Many of these potentially amazing new finds come at the end of an exasperating travel experience since the area’s tiny road is always choc-a-bloc with traffic.

Tio Tilly’s has that advantage – it’s located right at the start of the road and gives you more time in the restaurant, sinking your teeth into a delicious burger and less time flinging cuss-words at floral-shirt-wearing-tourists from other parts of the country who find it hard to follow traffic rules.

tio tillys candolim

I visited Tio Tilly’s a couple of weeks ago – a restaurant that’s barely a month old and is hard to miss, with its sunny cottage-like yellow exterior and hanging white bird cages. Everything about it looks neat – even the board out in the front indicating that Tio Tilly’s also contains a resort at the back by the name of Resort Tio.

AMBIENCE

The restaurant is decently sized, housing around 8 tables with a bar in one corner. It is open and airy and even though I visited on a hot, sunny afternoon, I didn’t feel the absence of an air-conditioner, an amenity that usually plays a deciding factor on where I dine on humid days like that one. The theme is quite rustic and I love the fact that the tiled roof is kept intact which is something you don’t see in most restaurants like these anymore.

tio tillys interiors

The tables tops comprise of slabs of wood in various shapes and sizes. In fact, even the hanging chandelier-of-sorts is a slab of wood with bulbs hanging at various heights. I’d love to see the place in the evening, it looks so much warmer and more rustic with dim lighting, as seen in pictures.

tio tillys interiors

There are a couple of tables and chairs laid outside as well, but only a couple of foreign tourists decided to sit out there in the blazing afternoon heat (don’t ask me why). Since it is situated right on the main road, the restaurant would definitely be noisy during tourist season.

I’ve got to mention the nostalgic music! All the 90’s boy-bands I’ve once loved played back-to-back! Yaay!

tio tillys view

SERVICE

Tio Tilly’s is owned and run by two Goan lads, Adit and Tylden, who gave up their corporate jobs in Mumbai to fulfill a dream of owning a restaurant. While the staff are courteous, the management lends a personal touch by interacting with guests, suggesting things off the menu and looking for ways to improve all aspects of the restaurant.

tio tillys bar

FOOD

The menu isn’t too vast, but has more than enough options to choose from. Finger foods, shumai (open dumplings), noodles, burgers, thin-crust pizzas and pasta are the main categories with a handful of dishes under each. Sadly, there were no desserts on the menu yer, but there are plans to introduce them shortly. Here’s what I sampled when I reviewed their food with Mum.

Thousand Island Crispy Fish Burger

Tio Tilly’s is quickly gaining popularity for their burgers and they are pretty darn good! I tried the Thousand Island Crispy Fish burger – something I wouldn’t ordinarily pick, but went with on Tylden’s suggestion. Burgers generally scream ‘unhealthy,’ but this fish one was so light and low on fat, making it a good pick for healthy eaters. I couldn’t get enough of that crispy batter and 2 home-made sauces on the side. The bun didn’t break apart and it wasn’t messy – which are huge pluses according to me! Unlike many fish burgers, it didn’t have that fishy smell, either – could definitely pass off as a chicken burger!

BBQ Chicken Twist Pizza

Tylden tells me that his chef used to work in a Pizza joint I frequent here in Mumbai. And it showed, because this was one yummy pizza! Great thin crust, stringy cheese, smokey BBQ sauce, and tons of mushrooms and chicken! Value for money, too, if you’re on a budget and are going in with a friend.

Butter Basic Prawns

Whenever I used watch those foreign cooking shows and see chefs cook seafood or meat in a little oil, sprinkled with salt, pepper and herbs, I wonder – “where is all the flavour? How can protein taste as lip-smacking as they make it out to be without all the masala?” And then I come across dishes like the butter basic prawns at Tio Tilly’s! Just tossed in a little butter for as little time as possible, these prawns were soft, ultra-succulent, melt-in-your-mouth good and all that buttery-infusion came through in every bite. Definitely ordering this when I go back.

Tio Kaku’s Shumai Prawn

Shumai is a traditional Chinese dumpling but unlike a momo, it is open, and looks like a rose. The filling is usually ground to a paste and it is served steamed, with hot dipping sauces. Unlike the butter basic prawns, the filling here wasn’t really moist and flavourful and I found it a little dry.

tio tillys shumai

Pink Pasta

I’m a huge pasta lover – the cheesier, the better! While I’ve been hearing of some restaurants carrying pink pasta on their menu, I’ve never had a chance to taste some. Pink Pasta is essentially the red and white sauces mixed together – which is a little disappointing because it isn’t really pink at all. There’s nothing wrong with the pasta, per se, at Tio Tilly’s – I’d have liked it to be creamier, and well, pinker! There are better options on the menu, so I’d suggest passing on this.

That comes to the end of the food, but I also had a brief tour of Resort Tio which is located just behind the restaurant, I thought I’d share some of the images in case you or someone you know is looking for convenient, affordable accommodation along the Candolim beach stretch.

The resort is sprawled around a squeaky-clean pool and houses around a dozen rooms currently. Like I said, the entire place is very new and there’s still a lot of plans that need to be implemented – such as doing up the open kitchen/bar by the pool and furnishing another building in the compound to open up additional rooms.

resort tio

I immediately noticed how well-kept the property was and there was attention-to-detail maintained. Paintings in the corridors, the towels formed into little animal shapes and thoughtful interiors for starters. It would be nice if there were some beach beds by the pool, but space may be a constraint here.

resort tio goa

The rooms are pretty basic as you can see, which is good for a budget traveler. They’re spacious and the architecture provided for a kitchen in each of the rooms which will now be turned into something else… we’ll have to wait and see. The washrooms are good too- clean, yet basic -and if you’re anything like I am, that’s the first thing you want to know before booking a room for a holiday – so you can take my word for it here.

Resort Tio also provides complimentary breakfast at Tio Tilly’s and will soon set up a buffet breakfast on the lawn a little distance away from the pool

resort tio room

WHAT I LIKED

The food – Great burgers and pizzas at a reasonable cost. It would be nice to have some a few more vegetarian options under both these sections. I was informed that the restaurant also caters to people who have requests apart from what is on the menu and will also serve Indian food.

Location – The location and maintenance of the restaurant is spot on.

WHAT CAN BE IMPROVED

The decor of the restaurant – While ‘rustic’ may be the theme of the restaurant, it does look a little too bare and lacking in colour. Some table mats, table decor, colourful posters etc would make the restaurant look more inviting in the day, too!

I’ll need to make another trip to try the dessert – I sure do hope they have Serra Dura on the menu and some great cheesecake! Maybe lava cake too. Ok, I’m getting carried away here!

Address: Opposite to Meridien, Gaura Vaddo, Calangute, Goa

Cost for 2: Rs. 1000/-

Give it a shot and let me know what you think. In the meanwhile, check out my last post and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. More restaurants from Goa to be featured soon!

See ya later!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

It’s easy for a tiny country to be lost among two giants, each with a rich and diverse culture and cuisine of their own. That’s Nepal for you. With India and China, two culinary greats by its side, Nepalese cuisine seems almost lost, forgotten. The cuisine itself isn’t one that fights for attention, but is mild and restrained, with simple flavours that wow the palate in a way that Indian and Chinese explosions of flavour cannot.

Nepalese cuisine made a quiet entrance into Mumbai’s competitive food industry just a few weeks ago, off the boisterous Link Road in Andheri. Mumbai’s first Nepali restaurant, called Yomari, is named after the traditional dessert of the land. Not only was it my first time trying the cuisine, but also, the first time I was the only blogger called to review it! Double win!

AMBIENCE

Yomari is a tiny 4-table restaurant in Andheri West, Mumbai and a few steps will take you from the main entrance to the kitchen. A tiled, covered patio in the front suggest that a couple of more tables will be added for outdoor seating. Inside, it is minimally decorated with Nepalese trinkets, a statue of an elephant and over the kitchen door, a wall to wall back-lit image of the Himalayas.

SERVICE

The restaurant being so new, there were no servers been hired yet. I’ll update this section on the service when I visit again.

yomari mumbai

FOOD

The menu features traditional Nepali staples such as Jhol (soups), Khaja Ghor (snacks), salads, ‘tummy full meals’ which comprise of various proteins over rice, Momos (of course!), Sadeko (munchies), Sekuwas and Chhoilas (Grilled/BBQ styled appetizers).

Soya Sadeko – For starters, I was served a traditional cold dish called sadeko with puffed rice, bamboo shoot pickle, and a glass full of some epic chaas! Unlike other soya items that are eaten with rice or roti, you just pop these soya chunks into your mouth. Right from this starter onwards, the food at Yomari kept me guessing what spices and techniques were at work!

soya sadeko yomari mumbai

Chicken Sadeko – While this chicken starter as well as the earlier soya one was novel, I liked this one slightly more than soya sadeko as it had more flavour and was so tempting! Chicken is shredded, tossed and further sautéed in spices and herbs to renew its rich flavour that appears almost like a salad. This was served with crunchy, beaten rice and tart radish pickle that I absolutely couldn’t get enough of!

chicken sadeko yomari mumbai

Shrimp Salad – Seafood in Nepal?? Hmm.. I’m not sure about that one, but I kid you not, these prawns were probably the best I’ve had in Mumbai, and they weren’t even ‘Goa-style’ spiced and fried like the way I usually like my prawns! Cooked to perfection and minimally spiced, the prawns were steamed and served with an assortment of spring veggies, sprinkled over with pepper and herbs and tossed in a delicious, zippy dressing. Bang on perfect!

shrimp salad yomari mumbai

Chicken Chop – I loved how light and delicious these starters were! They reminded me of the ones Mum makes at home, however the spices were much milder like Nepali food is supposed to be. These crumb fried minced chicken and mashed potato chops were served with a spicy chutney and salad and I could have easily eaten half a dozen.

chicken cutlets yomari mumbai

Chicken Momos – From high-end nibble restaurants to dingy bhattis, momos are ubiquitously popular everywhere, especially up north. Maybe I’ve eaten too many commercialized momos, but these seemed a tad too bland for my liking. Either way, the chilli dipping sauce gave it a boost.

chicken momos yomari mumbai

Mushroom and Cheese Momos – These were among the freshest mushroom momos I’ve eaten. They were sooo juicy and the chilli sauce paired well with them, too. Mushrooms being soggier than chicken, all the delicious flavour got infused in the translucent shells as well, making it even juicier!

mushroom cheese momos

Mutton Sekhwa – Sekhwa is a quintessential street food item which is sort of like satay or kebabs, but without the skewer. Like most of the dishes served, this one came with that scary-looking chilli on top, but it wasn’t spicy at all! What was intriguing was that it was neither saucy or dry, grilled or fried – the Sekhwa was just the right mix of everything with fragrant herbs and ground spices! I’ll even go out on a limb to say that kebab’s got nothing on the Sekhwa! It’s easy to see why this is a local favourite. It definitely was mine!

mutton sekuwa yomari mumbai

Mutton over Rice – Maybe I was just a little too stuffed at this point, but I felt that the flavours of the mutton sekhwa overlapped a lot with the mutton over rice. The meat, however, was much more tender as compared to the Sekhwa and the flavours were a lot milder. Served over steamed rice, this one is a meal in itself.

Yomari – Finally! I couldn’t wait to try these fish-shaped dessert dumplings after which the restaurant is named. Available with two filling choices – dried fruit and chocolate, it is prepared to worship the goddess of grain, Annapurna during the full moon after the harvest. I tried the dried fruit one which had a mix of coconut, jaggery, dried fruits and nuts served in a warm, thickened milk. This isn’t one of those indulgent desserts, and it’s mild sweetness didn’t send me on a guilt trip – so thumbs up!

yomari andheri

Food lovers who want to try something unconventional, yet traditional at the same time, round up your friends and head over to Yomari! It wont be long before you’ll have to wait for a table at this little gem of a place!

Meal for 2: Rs. 600

Address: Sterling CHS, Sundervan, Lokhandwala, Andheri West, Mumbai

Until next time!

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

I’ve always believed that India’s real riches are the diversity of food it offers – food that’s as multi-flavoured as the country itself.

Outsiders may generalize Indian food to be just about curry, whereas even in India itself, we write off North Indian food as butter-chicken-naan and south Indian food as dosa-idli-sambar. But food in India is more than a means to satiate hunger, it is the way to an Indian’s heart. Any Indian!

At the Marriott Goa, the kitchens are abuzz everyday from the 14th till the 20th of August 2017 to bring these different flavours, tastes and associated emotions to life! With one day dedicated to the cuisine of one region, they’re dishing up the most elaborate spread of regional cuisine under one roof! It helps that the team of chefs hails from all parts of the country, and on the day I visited, I had the richest, most decadent cuisine of all – Punjabi!!

Head Chef Pawan Chennam greeted me and introduced me to Chef Gurneet – the man behind the dinner for the day. Punjabi food is luxury, in every sense of the word and the spread of food from salads to mains and even desserts was jaw-dropping! They even went so far as to bring the vibrant madness of Punjab’s streets to the hotel, with carts selling chaat, corn on the cob, golas and chole kulchas!

AMBIANCE

Until now, I had only visited JW Marriott properties. JW Marriott is a tier higher than the regular Marriott brand that recently took over Starwood Hotels. The difference in ambiance was apparent right away. The quiet, luxurious interiors in earthy and gold tones I was used to in Mumbai’s JW properties was absent and in it’s place, loud coloured furniture in red and green. There was a lot of red and blue neon lighting which was a bit jarring at first.

marriott interiors restaurant

The decor had a ‘Punjabi dhaba’ theme that was carried through in the truck/cart styled set up and huuuge utensils of biryanis that I’ve only seen before in videos of the langar (communal meal) at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. On the other hand, the desserts were daintily placed on hanging swings.

marriott interiors

culinary journey of india marriott goa

Given the fact that the theme of the restaurant would be changed every single day in keeping with the region, the level of attention given to decor was impressive! Overall, the ambiance was super casual and noisy, more like a pub on a Saturday night, minus the music.

marriott food festival interiors

marriott punjab food

SERVICE

This was one place where I felt that everyone, from the staff to the chefs, were genuinely happy to be there, doing their jobs and giving more to it than was expected of them. The service was extremely warm and welcoming! They kept checking up on us, suggesting and bringing the next course from the buffet which was a few feet away – right to the table. I was quite surprised to find out that most of them already follow me on Instagram!

FOOD

Like I mentioned earlier, I was glad to have made it for the Punjabi feast! I’m sure the cuisines of other states would have been equally fantastic, but Punjab is a state you can eat your way through. Dollops of ghee, cream and butter, soft, tender meat, rich spices, deep flavours and indulgent sweets – all of it makes for a hearty meal!

Here’s a fraction of the spread during the Culinary Journey of India food festival at Marriott, Goa

buffet marriott goa

gurneet dhaba marriott goa

Never seen a spread of pickles like this before!

pickles marriot goa

salads marriott goa

Coming to the food I actually sampled, Marriott once again leaves me torn when it comes to choosing my favouirte dish. Every time I thought I had found it, the next dish outdid the last.

We started off with Chole Kulcha, a quintessential street food item that I’ve never tried before, simply because I always run straight towards the Chole Bhature. It was a meal in itself! Masaledaar chickpeas mounted on a soft, flour bread called kulcha, garnished with onions, tomatoes and a squeeze of lime. For those who love spicy food, this is as good as it gets!

chole kulcha marriott goa

Melt-in-your-mouth galouti kebabs from the Awadhi table followed! What distinguishes this one among other kebabs is that the tenderized minced meat and mild spices are formed into patties and roasted on the tava. My favourite kebabs are Malai chicken – so heavenly!!

galouti kebab

Mahi Amritsari followed. You can tell how crispy that batter is by just looking at it, right? Inside was still piping hot and flaky Mahi fish. Love these bite-sized snacks!

atter fried fish marriott goa

What is a Punjabi meal without Dal Makhani and Naan! Rich, satisfying and so creamy, this delicious mixed lentil dal left me floored and I couldn’t get enough of that naan either!

dal makhani marriott

We tried capturing the steam on camera as we opened the flour casing over this Mutton Dum Biryani and some of you may have caught it on my Instagram stories too! Set in deep silver cauldrons, the mildly cooked mutton is added to the fragrant rice and thereafter fused together. This biryani was low on spice, light on the stomach and makes you want to keep eating it!

dum biryani mutton

My favourite dish was the Rara Ghost! If you ever go to Marriott Goa, ask them to make it for you! It tastes like ROYALTY.. seriously!! It was so good that I tried ordering Rara Ghost at 4 other places during my visit to Goa but none of them came remotely close to this one. The lighter curry in the picture is Dhaba-kukkad or to translate literally, chicken from a restaurant/stall by the highway. Pair it with that flaky Lacchha paratha, and you’ll be on Cloud 9!

rara ghost dhaba kukkad

I’m not a huge fan of kadhi (yoghurt based curry with besan doughballs) so I just nibbled this dish. While the ever-popular rajma-chawal was good, I was too star-struck with the previous courses to pay much attention to it.

kadhi pakoda

*clears throat and points below*

gajar ka halwa

How amaaaazing does that Gajar Ka Halwa look! It had a divine taste and texture of milk, carrots and nuts cooked for hours, and wasn’t dripping with ghee. The dessert spread was actually pretty vast and featured all kinds of cakes (even a gajar ka halwa cake), but I took the traditional route and tried some pinni laddo too! Pinni Laddoo is a traditional sweet eaten during winter and is made of flour, khoya, sugar and nuts. Those who don’t like very sweet desserts would enjoy this one!
pirni laddoo

Last up, Chef Gurneet got me a gola!! Wheee!

Look at that happy face after all that decadent food! Little things like these make my day!

gola

That brings me to the end of ‘Punjabi Food Day’ at the Culinary Journey of India Food Festival! One of the chefs generously asked me to visit everyday to sample every cuisine – and as much as I’d have loved to, I got to keep the waistline in check 😛

I however LOVED the concept of the food festival and it is one that will open your mind along with your taste buds. You will experience a burst of taste as you travel from one corner of the country to another with Marriott Goa. There are 2 days to go, so make your way down to Bambolim soon!

Let me know your fave Punjabi dishes in the comments below and keep in touch on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Bye!

P.S. I know the pictures aren’t the best, but I did what I could given the lighting situation. <3

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own

The Rajasthani Food Festival is underway at Grand Hyatt, Goa and ends on the 16th of August. It was my first time visiting the property, which is funny, considering I’m sampling the fare at Grand Hyatt Mumbai every second weekend! I was lucky to have made it to the bloggers table during this visit home and not only sample some decadent Rajasthani food, but also catch up for the first time with some other Goan food bloggers I’ve been interacting with in cyberspace.

grand hyatt goa rajasthani food festival

The Indian restaurant, Chulha was decorated keeping in mind the Rajasthani theme, with standing umbrellas and decorative fans made of colourful fabric. Little dolls dressed in bandhini + mirrorwork sarees hung everywhere and there were dozens of flower streamers for added ethnicity.

We sampled on some vegetarian and non-vegetarian starters. I loved both the chicken starters, with a slight bias towards the Banjara Murgh Tikka, having a rich cashew base with a little crunch.

banjara murgh tikka

Although, how delicious does this one look!

chicken tikka hyatt

Bikaneri wadi aur subz ke seekh were looked cute and I couldn’t help but notice how consistent they all appeared. They were melt-in-the-mouth goooood!

shammi kebab

As we relished the starters, the mixologist gave us a live demo as he prepared our cocktails, explaining to us why he paired ingredients together and the inspiration behind them. Since the upper class folks of the Mewar region of Rajasthan enjoyed their whiskey, the Royal Mewar cocktail was made keeping that in mind. It was strange to see cardamom paired with whiskey in this cocktail, but those who tried it, absolutely loved it!

grand hyatt goa cocktails

I was torn between ordering lassi and a ramgarh milkshake and ultimately chose the Rose Milkshake. I’m glad I did because the Hing and Chilli Paneer Tikka proved too fiery for my tastebuds and a fragrant milkshake was the perfect antidote!

hing aur mirch ke paneer tikka

pithod ke tikka

All the Rajasthani classics featured in the main course of the menu and it was indeed fit for a Maharaja! In order to let us sample everything on the menu in small portions, the chef smartly presented it to us in the traditional thali.

We learned that though 75% of Rajasthais are vegetarian, the non-veg food is so legendary that those who eat it, devour it!

One such crowd favourite is Laal Maas (or red meat) – bright red hot gravy made with red chillies and mutton pieces. It was no-doubt, one of my favourites on the menu.

Another dish that had everyone singing its praises was the Maans ka Soweta – lamb chunks cooked in Indian spices, corn kernals, capsicum, red chillies and spices. The meat was so tender and well flavoured that we could tell it had been marinated for a long time! The gravy was amazing and thick too!

rajasthan food festival hyatt goa

What Chole Bhature is to Punjab, Dal Bati Churma is to Rajasthan – a classic with a history that’s as extraordinary as its taste. I loved this quintessential three-in-one-treat with baked bhaati/little dough balls in a spoonful of ghee, spiced dal and sweet, crumbly churma – it’s as fun to eat as it is to mix up!

Other things on the menu that featured in our thali included Ker Sangria (wild beans and local berries in mustard oil), Papad Methi Aloo Mangodi (potato, papad, fenugreek, dry lentil dumplings), Rajasthani Dal Dhokli (mixed lentils, chickpea flour and hing) and jodhpuri kabuli (saffron basmati rice with spices).

Desserts – the section to which my eyes are instantly drawn held only two items, to my disappointment. The Malpua, a deep fried pancake made of khoya and soaked in sugar syrup, served with rabdi, a condensed milk based dish is too delicious for words! I love mine slightly crispy, like the ones they have at Bhindi Bazaar and Mohammad Ali Road in Mumbai.

malpua and rabdi hyatt goa

We were also given a serving of badam ka sheera (a semolina based sticky dish with almonds) that was literally swimming in ghee! While ghee is an essential part of Rajasthani food, it was too rich for me to handle and I couldn’t eat more than a spoonful. I’d have loved to see some more desserts on the menu though – perhaps jalebi, dilkushar or rabri ghevar? Ooooh!!

Make your way down to Grand Hyatt Goa for a taste of Rajasthani Cuisine! We don’t really have restaurants in Goa that serve up authentic regional fare, and if you don’t plan on travelling to Rajasthan anytime soon, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a culinary trip there instead.

There’s a lot more of my Goa adventures to share with you guys! And God, so much food!

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xoxo

P.S. My meal was sponsored, however, views, as always, are my own