Traditional restaurants in this coastal state
This coastal state's popular restaurants are known for serving authentic flavours
It is a tiny coastal state, smaller than some Indian metropolises even, whose beaches are almost always crowded year-round (except during monsoons). Goa has a lot more to it though than just its extensive sandy shores. Its food – from the classic tiger prawns with Indo-Portuguese xacuti sauce to pork vindaloo – is the next best offering here. Since its independence from the Portuguese in 1961 after they invaded Goa in 1510, there has been a heavy Portuguese influence on its dishes.
Here is a list of five casual eateries that have been adored by the locals and regular tourists since years.
Carafina Pereira started this place three decades ago with just four tables and not much regalia. Word of her delicious food spread and the visiting crowd became larger. Today, with more than a dozen tables, the ambience is always buzzing with buoyancy, thanks to the live music performances by local artists. Its Goan charm isn’t limited to just food, but also shows through caricatures depicting local culture that cover the walls.
Amongst the starters here, crunchy prawns and calamari sautéed in butter and spices are must-try simple Goan treats. The pork or beef assad is equally recommended for the tenderness of its spiced meat. Martin’s most favoured dishes amongst the mains is the spicy pork vindaloo – cooked in vinegar and chilli paste. Finish your Goan meal by indulging in bebinca – a seven-layered, coconut flavoured, sticky Indo-Portuguese cake.
Open daily 11am-3:30pm,
6:30pm-11:30pm; +91 0832 2880061; martinscornergoa.com.
The best way to sample more of its dishes is by ordering the thali or set meal with small portions
The traditional Goan eatery is a tribute to “mothers from far flung corners of Goa for having contributed in compiling exclusive traditional recipes”. It has a homely feel that emanates from its decor and reflects in its food. A narrow pathway that leads to the door from its gate is flanked by greenery on both sides. A man-made pond adds to the aesthetic. Inside, pickle jars, flower vases, old-styled utensils, and artificial fruits and vegetables in baskets add to its vintage appeal.
From the appetisers listed, I would recommend the fresh pineapple salad, and for something spicy, try kombdechem sukhem – shallow-fried chicken marinated in spices. A typical Goan meal here would be the chourico chilli fry – pork sausages in chilli oil – relished with a bowl of rice to balance out the flavours. Even spicier would be the lobster stuffed with fiery red Goan masala. Finally, douse the fire from spices with Mum’s Kitchen’s signature pancake stuffed with coconut and jaggery and topped with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Open daily 11am-11pm;
+91 982217 5559; mumskitchengoa.com.
It is located in one of the most crowded spots of Goa – Calangute beach. In the day, fans cool you down from the sunlight pouring in through its large windows, and in the evenings, cool sea breeze brushes past you. Post sunset, Souza Lobo spreads out onto the beach by adding tables and chairs on the sand.
The list of starters are nothing special really, and so skip to the mains that are large enough to be shared. Start with the fried masala mussels covered with a batter of spiced semolina. The pomfret raechade or stuffed pomfret shouldn’t be missed, neither should the sausage pulao that is the restaurant’s own creation.
Open daily 11:30am-11:30pm;
+91 0832 2276463; souzalobo.com.
It is located in a quieter part of Goa, in Mapusa. The interiors are minimalistic. Unlike colourful Goan homes or spaces on a whole, it is pretty much bare, apart from the few picture frames, and the one odd
dull green wall and matching pillar. What it misses in ambience, it makes up in its food. Run by a husband-wife duo, it promises fresh seafood and spices ground in-house.
Feast on what Spice Goa is famous for – its seafood specialities. The best way to sample more of its dishes is by ordering the thali or set meal with small portions. The Goan Fish thali, for example, comes with seven dishes that include one large piece of fried fish, Goan-styled sautéed vegetables, salad, fish curry and a shell fish curry. One can even pick the dishes you would want to see on your thali. End the course with sera dura (means sawdust in Portuguese), which is a humble dessert made with nothing more but sweetened cream and biscuit crumbs.
Open daily noon-3pm, 7pm-11pm;
+91 0832 2257148; spicegoa.com
THE FISHERMAN’S WHARF
The al fresco restaurant is simple, but beautifully laid out with mood lighting, fairy lights, wooden interiors, tiled roof and brick walls. It is located on the bank of River Sal, and glows from a prettier ambience after sunset.
The succulent prawn balchao is an absolute must-try. Belchao is when seafood or meat is cooked in a tangy tomato-chilli sauce, which tastes better if eaten a day after its preparation. Chicken cafreal (fried and seasoned with cafreal powder), brought in by the Portuguese exudes just the right flavours here. For a spicy twist order the fiery prawns served with Goan pao – a type of bread.
Open daily noon-11:00pm;
+91 90110 18866; thefishermanswharf.in
PREVIOUS PAGE: a beach in Goa CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Mum’s Kitchen; Spice Goa; shell fish curry at Spice Goa; Fisherman’s Wharf; chicken cafreal at Fisherman’s Wharf; and kombdechem sukhem at Mum's Kitchen