Ermmm… a restaurant that is famous for Goan & Maharashtrian food… what is it doing on the blog of a vegetarian you ask?
Good question. I was kinda apprehensive myself as I braved Mumbai’s moody monsoon to reach this place. Not a bad decision trying to be Superman I must say, ‘coz we came out smiling! Apparently, Gaon food actually has a pretty decent spread of vegetarian dishes. Surprising I know.
Goa Portuguesa is a chain of restaurants famous for its authentic Goan & Maharashtrian food along and some famous dishes modified to suit local tastes. The setting is quaint, dimly lit with coloured glass windows and wooden flooring that give you a homely feel. The service is great and the servers and manager are really attentive.
We began the meal with Caldo Verde , a Portuguese speciality soup made with potato puree and spinach. A combination we despise in our tiffin box, turned into a mouth – watering preparation, the Caldo Verde is a delight to the taste buds. The spinach, potato, and milk are so perfectly fused together that it is difficult to tell them apart. Imagine yourself freezing after travelling in the rains and then in the same picture add a delectable hot soup. Pretty picture I say!!
We then dug into some Khamang Kakdi, a popular Maharashtrian salad made with cucumber, coconut and peanut powder. The flavour of each of the ingredient was brought out well in this simple preparation.
The appetizers included Mix Veg & Cashew Croquette , Kaju Kothimbir Vadi and a deceivingly spicy Paneer & Mushroom Pepper Fry.
The Mix Veg & Cashew Croquette is a vegetable and cashew roll served with a delicious mint chutney. It is not spicy and is ideal if you want your appetizer to be a little filling.
The Kaju Kothimbir Vadi was a little disappointing. Not at all like the authentic Kothimbir Vadi, the taste of besan (gram flour) overshadowed every other flavour.
The Pepper & Mushroom Pepper Fry was the highlight of our appetizers. Pieces of mushroom and cottage cheese tossed in a spicy pepper sauce. The dish has some Chettinad spices used in the preparation, a region very famous for its hot spicy cuisine. No wonder!
With this spicy note, it was time for some main course. To soothe the taste buds came the Tender Coconut Cashew Nut Sukke , a Goan speciality dish made with juliennes (long thin strips) of coconut , cashew nut, onions, and tomatoes. A little on the sweeter side, but a treat to those who enjoy the original flavour of tender coconut in their meal. We had these with hot, crispy Appams, a south Indian speciality. To be frank, the taste is much better when had without Appams or Pao or Chapati, just the Sukke.
Next, we had the Xacutti and Kozhambu. The Xacutti is a speciality Goan dish made with mushroom, cottage cheese and other vegetables and a mildly spicy coconut based gravy. The coconut content is high but the spices play an overshadowing role.
The Kozhambu is a curry based dish made with vegetables tossed in a tamarind and coconut gravy. The aftertaste is strongly and that of Garam or Khada masala. Don’t get me wrong, instead of putting one off, it actually leaves you wanting more. And it tastes so good with Appams as well as Pao.
We also had the Masale Bhat , which is basically vegetable biryani but cooked in traditional Maharashtrian Goda masala, rendering it with a distinct aroma and a pleasantly spicy taste.
It now was finally time to try sweet delicacies. We began with the Kharvas, another Maharashtrian delicacy made with milk. The Kharvas here was devoid of its traditional flavour and not much to write home about. We also tried the Goan delicacy Bibinca (Bebinca), a multilayered cake made with coconut milk and egg yolk. A little on the sweeter side, and not what I was looking for.
Then came the pièce de résistance, Dodol. Third time is a charm indeed! A moist jaggery based cake, that tastes deliciously of raw (palm sugar) with an aftertaste that left us guessing and reminding of something delicious we had in the past. I am still trying to figure out what that was, ‘coz the Dodol was just mind blowing! A must try!
The final dessert was the traditional Maharashtrian Puran Poli, just the right amount of sweet and served with a whole ton of ghee, as is always! What an end!
Overall Experience: The food is good, with a decent spread for vegetarians. What surprised me was that I was liking coconut in my food. Not a fan of coconut otherwise, apart from a few select dishes, the preparations were made such that coconut and cashew nut though a very integral part, did not overshadow every other ingredient present.
The Battle: I battled the rains to get here, and then I battled my full tummy to convince it to make a little more space for just another bite of the crispy appams and the delicious Dodol!