It must be the air. The rich and spice laden winds that caress the coconut treetops of the Goan landscape bring about a seduction that is irresistible as the cool pink glass of Solkadi, or kokum laced drink, that is placed in front of us at Goa Portuguesa, the newly opened restaurant on Khader Nawaz Khan Road. Or the women like Deepa Awchat, the tall and elegant executive director of “Goa-Portuguesa” the legendary restaurant in Mumbai’s Shivaji Park area. She was an ace table tennis champion before discovering an equal passion for the Hindu-Goan cuisine at her restaurant.
Years in the making
“In the eighties people were just discovering Goa as a holiday destination. The distinctive style of Goan food was a great revelation. But there were no places to go to for this food in Mumbai.” She credits her husband Dr Suhas Awchat with encouraging her to start a restaurant herself. They looked for the legendary Goan cooks, who came and went with the Monsoon winds, until Deepa taught herself their secrets and adapted them to her restaurant. Twenty five years later, with two cookbooks to her credit, Deepa watches every dish that is presented before us, together with her son, Sudeep.
We start with a creamy potato and spinach soup — Caldo Verde — as it is described. There are more potatoes for the vegetarians, small potato balls stuffed with green peas and chopped herbs. It is when we come to the delicate prawns puffs, called Rissois de Camarao, out of which a wonderfully cheesy creamy mash of diced prawns spills out, that we get into our stride. The chicken Cafreal or green masala chicken is tender to the tongue, as are the more aggressively Portuguese sounding Vindaloos and Xacutis. Everything sounds better in Portuguese, so we shall not elaborate on “Caldinho De Peixe” except to say the fish was heavenly. As for the dessert of Bebinca layered like a lady’s petticoat, one can only exclaim “Viva Portuguesa!”
Meal for two at approximately Rs 1,200. Details: 30062010
— Geeta Doctor