Tag Archives: Goa

And we’re done for the year

And so it’s farewell to yet another year. Compared to the crazy body punching blows of 2014 that left me broken in several small pieces and on a granola obsession, this year has been much more stable, with a few gigantic waves thrown in to keep me on my toes. Or to knock me onto my substantial big brown ass but not enough to break me. Thank GOODNESS for that.

I started this year very unemployed and on the hunt for a job and in April, I won a competitive pitch against 20 agencies/freelancers for a project which was a great confidence boost. But that was only a few days work over a few months so I also had the opportunity to work with some super clever agencies and individuals who made me fall in love with PR again (well, a bit, I’m far too cynical to drink the KoolAid and completely lose my mind!) I’m ending this year working with a fantastic team on a longer term project so that’ll hopefully keep the wolves from the door and get me back on a much more even work-life keel. (Sorry about all the maritime analogies, I think I want to be on a beach).

Speaking of beaches, I started the year, in the midst of my unemployment, in Goa with my darling wino (because there ain’t nuffink like celebrating unemployment with a huge holiday) and then over the next 12 months, we also went to Istanbul, Berlin and had a big gay weekend in Suffolk. All told, a much smaller year of travel than previous ones, but I blame that on my work shy foppishness. Goa was incredible, met some wonderful new friends, explored a beautiful part of the world and now I’m wondering where I can go in 2016. I want to end the year in Australia but I can definitely feel a weekend in New York to catch up with my buddies on the cards and possibly somewhere a bit Scandi.  But that sounds a bit like a resolution and I’m loathe to set myself up for failure before the year’s even started.

Sunset at Mandrem

We also contemplated becoming supperclubbers in 2015 but trying to hold down a 9-5 and then cooking for 15-20 people on a regular basis sent me into freefall a bit so we had one awesome trial run with friends and family and then just carried on as normal.  Maybe we’ll do it again in 2016? I’ve been told that we’re hosting the family for Christmas next year (which is possibly about 30 people) so that may inspire me to finally get the kitchen updated. Doubt it though, I’m quite lazy and scared of commitment (and also, we may run away to Oz so we don’t have to do it…)

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We’ve had an interesting year with our cat, Doris. She was bullied by another cat who was sneaking in the catflap and eating her food so decided to let us know about her unhappiness by peeing on our bed. Delightful. Put an end to that madness through lots of loving but she’s ended the year pooping in the lounge. Not sure what’s wrong with her, think she’s just insane but that was definitely one present I didn’t want to find under the tree.

Doris
Before she started to leave us poopy presents all over the house

The wino has continued to put up with my madness as well as mad times at his business but that’s his story to tell so I’ll not go into details. He’s a good, if annoying, man who I wouldn’t replace for all the tea in China. Possibly for all the chocolate in the world but not tea.

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I turned 40 too this year, which I celebrated over three weeks and loved every minute of it, so much that I may be 40 again next year – gird your livers, chums.

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And on top of all that, I went to a gin festival, I ate at some incredible restaurants, I spent a lot of QT with gorgeous people who inspire me and make me laugh till I want to pee (I am 40 after all), I baked a LOT and this year was just lovely. Apart from the four failed Amazon deliveries that have made me realise that Amazon Prime is not worth the money it costs and that their drivers are more than a little bit racist. But that’s a conversation to have with their press office rather than bitching here – unless I don’t hear back from them, in which case, bring on the bitching.

So onto 2016 – I’m in employment, I have a roof over my head, I have more shoes than a girl could ever possibly need and a lovely man by my side. If 2015 was about getting back together (after 2014 decided to break me down), I think 2016 is about bringing joy back. Which mostly means spending time with those reprobates who are my dearest framily, experiencing new places and eating lots of food. Those aren’t resolutions by the way, that’s just good sense. Oh, and I’ve got a flying lesson and a Segway experience and a cake decorating class to do that I’m hugely excited about (god bless birthday present experiences!) Thanks to those of you who have listened to my ramblings over the last 12 months, I may post more regularly over the next 12 but don’t hold me to it, I’d hate to let you down. Here’s to a 2016 that’s filled with joy for all of you too.

 

 

Goan(ish) Beef Curry

I’m not a very good Hindu, you may have noticed. But what you’ll also know is that it’s rare (pardon the pun) to get beef curries in your local takeaways or restaurants as, well, the cow is holy. But I do love me some holy cow. And as it’s approaching winter (yay!) I decided to break all my non-existent rules and make a beef curry to warm our cold bones. 
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To be fair, I don’t really like beef curries – the ones you get are mostly coconutty from SE Asia and I have a weird aversion to coconut generally. Or contain potatoes, which are probably my least favourite carb. But I figured, the rules of curries must be the same, whatever meat you’re using, so I Googled for a Goan beef curry and this one came up. I know, right? I’m a genius. However, take a look at the recipe on the link – I may be a bit stupid, but dear god it was confusing, so I used the general concept, replacing ingredients and processes at whim.

I should also add that I really didn’t want to go shopping so those things I may have added to make it look prettier but didn’t have in the fridge/cupboard/garden, I didn’t have. So no coriander garnish mostly, which in retrospect, may have made it a little better. So if you get the urge, get coriander. if you don’t, it’s perfectly fine without it.

So here it is, my Goan-ish Beef Curry. We had it with Sri Lankan roast pan which is basically chunky slices of bread. Not that exotic. Probably nice with rice. Couldn’t be bothered to make rice. Autumn makes me lazy.

Goanish Beef Curry

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Half a small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 3 small red chillies
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1.5 inches of garlic, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100ml vinegar (I used sherry vinegar, but any will do)
  • 1 red onion sliced thinly
  • 1kg beef, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 250ml water

Toast the first five ingredients in a small pan over a low heat for about a minute or until the aromas start to be released. Take off the heat before they burn.

Put the garlic, chillies, ginger, oil in a blender and blend till smooth. Then add the toasted spices and the powdered spices into the blender, with the vinegar and blend to a smooth paste.

Leave to one side whilst you brown the beef in a large casserole, do it in batches so it cooks evenly. Once that’s removed, add some more oil to the pan and gently fry the onions till they’re soft and translucent, then add the spice paste (watch out, it’ll spit at you) and cook that out for a minute or so – it will go from a turmeric-y orange to a dark brown. Once it’s cooked through, add the beef and ensure that you coat it with the spice mix. Put the water into the food processor to get all the remnants of the spice paste and pour it into the pan. Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for 70-90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure it’s not burning. If the water looks like it’s running dry, add a little more. You want the beef to be tender and the longer you can cook it for, the more tender it will be.

Serve with rice, bread or whatever you fancy. Garnish with coriander, if you have it. Or a sliced chilli. I did neither as you’ll see from the picture. It was still delicious.

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Lovely Loutolim and Casa Susegad

I’ve mentioned it a few times but it deserves a post all of its very own so here’s week two in Goa and our stay at Casa Susegad. 

The entrance to Casa Susegad

Beautiful ornate entry

The wino and I require very different things from our holidays – whilst he’s happy to lie on a beach or by a pool for a solid fourteen days, moving only to dip in the pool or go to sleep, I get a little bored of this after… well, usually a good 12 hours. So we agreed that week one would be beachside and week two would encompass a little more culture. What I hadn’t put into this equation was how much Goa would make me into a gigantic beach bum and as such, I was quite happy to sleep and hang out on the beach and not do much else.

We’d booked our week at Casa Susegad based on the lovely i-escape review and amazing Trip Advisor comments and thought it would give us a different pace of life from Jamboree Creek and Mandrem.

And that it did. We got a car from Mandrem to Loutolim – it’s about an hour and a half away but the vibe couldn’t be more different. It’s in a little village where there’s nothing apart from monkeys in trees and a Friday market. When you’ve been in a place where it was rare to see an Indian face and even rarer to see anyone over the age of 40, it was nice to be somewhere that felt more removed from the tourist trail.

You’re greeted by lots of dogs (and Carol and Norman, the owners) and whilst I won’t pretend to remember all their names, my two favourites (ie the ones who paid me the most attention) were Basil and Lisa – just lovely friendly dogs that hung out with the guests all day long. Don’t fall for their food begging though!

The balcao

There are only five rooms at Casa Susegad but the house itself is palatial. All the rooms are situated around the pool, with the bar close by too. We were in the pink quartz room – and very pink it was as you can see below. The floor tiles were gorgeous too – discovered when the work was being done to the house and left in their original state. Loved them.


The terrace Glorious floor Pink room

Next door to our room were the turquoise room and the sunshine room. Norman and Carol live in private quarters in the main part of the house and in the opposite wing is a full size snooker table and a large dining room, as well as a lounge where you can escape the heat and read or watch TV. We shared a terrace with our turquoise neighbours and got to know them really well – fabulous fellas.

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Having spent most of the previous week just speaking to the wino, it took a couple of hours to get used to the openness at Casa Susegad – because the rooms surround the pool, you get used to speaking to your neighbours and having drinks with them and then sitting around the dining table to eat with them. And we loved this – it was so friendly, the owners are delightful and had old friends staying (who I mentioned before) so it felt very much like you were staying with friends. I wonder if I can say ‘friend’ another time in this sentence? Terrible grammar!

The pool is bordered by jungle – literally. You can see all manner of beautiful birds and families of monkeys jump across the roof to steal figs from the tree in the front garden. I’m sure there are creepy crawlies and snakes in them there woods but we didn’t see anything so I’m going to pretend they weren’t there. Oh, apart from a flying beetle that was the size of a small bird. That wasn’t terrifying at all.

The pool

Dinners at Casa Susegad are full three course affairs, with food whims taken in the morning and cooked up by Joanita to please all the guests. Admittedly, we hadn’t realised how little there was to do in Loutolim so whilst the meals are lovely and worth every penny, it’s best to budget as though you’re going to eat there every night as there aren’t many nearby places to enjoy a more cost effective meal. It’s great sitting around the gigantic dinner table, getting to know your fellow guests and shooting the breeze. Dinners can either be served on your terrace or in the main dining room – we mostly opted for the terrace it was slightly less formal but both are lovely experiences.

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Norman and Carole know the region really well so can happily help you plan days out and arrange drivers and recommend places to eat. With our turquoise room neighbours, we went to Margao for a day of exploring including a fantastic lunch at Longuhino’s. And as previously mentioned, Helen took me out for a day to Panjim which included lunch at Hotel Vineet, the home of the Goan revolution. The nearest beach is 20 mins drive away and worth it for a day out, it’s beautiful and the food at Zeebops is amazing.

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I’d happily go back to Casa Susegad – it’s a great location for chilling out, reading by the pool and enjoying some delicious cocktails and dinners. The staff are super friendly and on hand to help with anything you need. It’s also a small hop skip and a jump to the airport so even if you don’t want to spend a whole week in the jungle village, consider spending a couple of nights there before you fly, it’ll leave you feeling ever so zen. Particularly if you indulge in one of the massages, so very good.

And that’s my last Goa post. Sorry for being so indulgent but there was so much to share. Cannot wait for our next trip!

Chowing down in Goa

Finding an ‘authentic’ Goan meal is probably much the same as trying to find authentic tapas on the Costa del whatever – because the economy is so dependent on tourism, the beach side shacks and hotel restaurants are simply catering for the tourist trade, so feature chips, burgers and Russian salads extensively. And I’m not complaining too much – there isn’t actually anything better than a plate of salty chips and a Kingfisher whilst sitting by the pool. However, after a few days, all I wanted was a well spiced (ie not watered down for the tourists) curry or just something a bit different. And maybe a menu that wasn’t just in English and Russian.

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So we spent a lot of time looking at Trip Advisor for the best restaurants in Mandrem – and found that the place across the road from Jamboree Creek was voted sixth best in the area – and given that we’re hugely lazy, 6th best was OK by us.

Rotisserie at Fritchy

So when you look at Fritchy on Trip Advisor, the dishes look a bit like this.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1010240-d5966356-Reviews-Frichty-Mandrem_Goa.html
http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g1010240-d5966356-Reviews-Frichty-Mandrem_Goa.html

When we arrived, however, there was one gigantic table stretched out across an open courtyard with a chalkwritten menu that suggested that there was only one thing on offer – rotisserie chicken with roasted corn and bread. And booze, obviously.

I love nothing more than a simply spiced roasted chicken so we decided to stay. Long story short, the owners decided to try something new and this new Fritchy had only opened three days prior to our visit. And my god, it was good – really simple, well cooked, lovely bread and even a passable Indian wine (Sula, should you be looking for a wine when you’re in India). And to be honest, whilst the fancy pants fine dining experience would have been nice, this felt more in keeping with our Goan vibe – much more chilled, a great way to meet new people on the shared dining table.

You have to get there early as once the chickens are cooked and sold, that’s it. The owner/chef was only making three a day because of the quiet season so if you’re there after 7.30ish, you may not get fed.

It’s also incredibly good value – at 600rupees per chicken dinner with booze on top of that, you’re eating out for less than £4 per head.

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A sublime dinner at Sublime

Having missed out on fine dining at Fritchy (in favour of roast chicken- no great loss), we asked Priyanka for her recommendations of places to eat locally. What we were actually looking for was beach shack type authentic Goan cuisine of curries and fish and stuff, but we were convinced by her to try out Sublime in nearby Morjim – a fusion restaurant combining the best of Goa, France, Japan and lord knows where else but all deliciously tasty. Given that the final bill came to about £20 per head, including a lot of cocktails and three courses, it was fantastic value for money. If you’re in North Goa, it’s definitely worth a trip there – we arrived too late to see sunset but imagine it would be glorious from one of the beach tables. The restaurant itself is small – probably only 40 covers but beautifully decorated with a boat hanging from the centre of the room (by way of lighting I think!) and what looks like a raised platform with a mattress and mosquito nets where you could have an intimate cocktail or two with a loved one. My memory is rubbish but the one thing you have to try is the Paan Martini – my god, that cocktail. I dream about that cocktail. Also the ginger battered calamari starter was insanely good and the banana leaf fish. And according to the wino, the prawn starter with risotto was amazing but clearly I couldn’t try that. We shared a dessert platter which is basically three of the four desserts, full size, to share. Mon dieu. Delicious.

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The End of the World

We finally got our beach side authentic vibe on Mandrem beach at The End of the World. The wino ordered prawns, I had chicken xacuti, both were fabulous and best eaten watching the sunset whilst enjoying a beer. However, this was the place that had removed the fish eyes when they brought out the plate from which to entice you to choose, so I’m not sure how fresh they were. However, the chicken xacuti was amazing and would have been a trip highlight, if we hadn’t had better at Casa Susegad, made by the lovely Joanita.

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Zeebop at Urtoda beach

Our final beachside lunch was at Zeebops at Urtoda beach. Recommended by the lovely chaps at Casa Susegad, Zeebops was probably the best seafood we had all trip – beautifully cooked fish that the four of us shared, a lovely quiet beach and great company – as well as a sighting of Bollywood star, Karina Kapoor, having a photoshoot on the beach that day. Lovely.

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Fun with hawkers and other top Goan shopping tips

Whilst it’s only been a fortnight since we got home, it feels like a lifetime ago already. Don’t you hate that? When you’re away, you promise yourself that you’ll keep that holiday chill and not let the small shit get you down then a mere 14 days later, you’re freaking out about… well, stuff.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last two weeks arranging the lovely things we bought around our home and I thought that my Goan shopping experiences may be useful to other people so here are some top tips.

The Markets….

Also known as the haven for a lot of tourist tat and a significant amount of MC Hammer trousers in elephant prints

We arrived after our long journey on a Thursday afternoon and were still finding our feet by Saturday so we missed Arpora night market which everyone raves about. Mostly because I hear it’s like shopping at a nightclub in the 1990s, lots of music, drumming, people wearing too much tie dye and looking slightly beatific. Not gutted we missed it as we went to Anjuna Market on Wednesday instead which is basically the same but you go in the day time so rather than dancing to crazy beats, you sweat and sweat and sweat and still end up buying a lot of MC Hammer pants.

The wino wouldn't let me bring one of these home
The wino wouldn’t let me bring one of these home

Anjuna

Because what you really want to buy in 36C heat is thick woollen socks.
Because what you really want to buy in 36C heat is thick woollen socks.


Anjuna

Anjuna Market is a lot of fun. Honestly. I generally hate big crowds and being forced to visit a “lovely shop that sells bangles, even big sizes for you lady”, but as the season has been so quiet due to the collapsing Russian economy, the crowds weren’t that bad so you could simply drift around and not make eye contact with anyone so you don’t get hassled. Amusingly, the ladies hawking their wares have picked up amazing British accents so they go from speaking in Hindi to each other to sounding like traders at Billingsgate Market. “A’righ’ love, come and check out my stall, lovely fings for you and your fella”. They could also hawk in Russian, which shows how dependent on tourism from there Goa has become.

Ice cream trucks at Anjuna

Kids MC hammer pant suit

One of my absolute favourite moments at the market was when a woman, trying to hawk her wares said “alright love, where are you from?” to which I replied, “Sri Lanka” (having bored of telling people London) to which she replied, “oooh, it’s cold there, innit”. So whilst it’s incredibly impressive that they can hawk in many languages, don’t go off script unless you want them to look at you like you’ve lost your mind when you laugh for a good 15 minutes after that.

We made it out of Anjuna after a couple of hours with only three shirts (wino) and one shirt and two pairs of hippy dippy pants (me). Everything is much of the same on every stall but worth looking out for Shoop Doop, which has great shirts in a variety of styles in interesting fabrics. The guy who runs it also has a shop in Ashvem so if you don’t make it to Anjuna, find him there.

You’ll need to get your bargaining hat on though – my MC Hammer trousers started at 700 rupees – I walked away with two pairs for 200.

My elephant print trousers
I am not putting my face to these trousers. But these are the trousers in their natural habitat. If you see me wearing them in London, please feel free to judge me.

Much more interesting and, I guess authentic, is Mapusa Market. This is on every day and is a local market (for local people) but with some tourist tat thrown in for good measure. Mapusa (pronounced Mapsa) is where you can find amazing spices, vegetables, fruit, homewares and all sorts of other things that you never knew you needed. And piles of clothing sky high. It was amazing to watch women making flower garlands from gigantic bags of heads of carnations and roses and other flowers I didn’t recognise. Mr Wino was at the height of his holiday illness so couldn’t smell anything but the scents and aromas – oh my. you go from overpowering dried fish to beautiful fresh flowers to pungent spices and herbs within a few steps. Utterly incredible.

Bangles at Mapusa Making garlands at Mapusa Dried fish at Mapusa market Flower garlands at Mapusa

These bottles were for sale. We couldn't work out why anyone would buy them, any ideas?
These bottles were for sale. We couldn’t work out why anyone would buy them, any ideas?

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Other shopping experiences

During our stay at Casa Susegad, we met the lovely Helen and Colin, friends of the owners and part-time locals, spending a significant portion of the year in Goa and the rest in the UK. Helen has a shop in the UK and spends a lot of her time in India sourcing products to sell there (and the proceeds from which goes back to projects in India). As such, if you ever need a shopping tour guide, she’s your woman. We spent a day out in Panjim visiting many beautiful independent retailers and I spent a small fortune in Fab India on cushions and blankets and lovely trinkets. If Helen’s in residence at Casa Susegad, ask her for her tips.

Fab India

For me, Fab India was my stand out shop – it’s laid out beautifully with homewares, clothing and furniture that’s beautifully curated.I had my heart set on bringing home a Rajasthani blanket – I brought one in Kerala seven years ago but two house moves and getting a cat in that period of time has left it looking a little threadbare. The husband and I had agreed that no mirrorwork or embroidery would enter our suitcase (mostly because my 1990s clubbing flashbacks would be constant and never ending should I have that sort of thing in my house) and all we wanted were those simple printed cotton thin duvets. Helen recommended Fab India so off we went – and I somehow came home with four blankets, five cushion covers and a table cloth. Well done Vinnie. That was fun packing, let me tell you. Blankets do not crush down easily. FYI, looking on Fab India site, they ship internationally. Do not tell the wino.

Another newish Panjim shop worth a visit is White Brick Wall – this sells modern clothing with an Indian twist, as well as homewares.  I fell in love with the jumpsuit with the tuk tuk print, but sadly not in my size. Although, to be fair, the owner said she’d get it made for me in my size but I didn’t have time to do that. Sad.

And if you get a chance the paper shop, Chimanlals, is gorgeous if you’re a stationery fiend like me.

To end on a foodie tip, in Loutolim there’s a bakery called Jila, voted the best bakery in the whole of India by the Times of India. If you decide to stroll down there from the town or from Casa Susegad, take water – it’s a good 30 minute walk. You’ll get lost, you’ll pass a dilapidated house that’s been taken over by monkeys, locals under umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat wil laugh at the the tourists, you’ll think you’re never going to find it and indeed, you’ll walk right on by till you reach what feels like a motorway. And then, if you’re like me, you’ll blame the husband for getting you lost and you’ll have a little argument so you turn back to tackle the long walk home… and there’s the sign. On a house. That looks like a house, not a bakery. So you ring the bell, and you’re taken into the lounge and you are brought a plate of cakes for you to choose from. And it makes the long trek so worth while and you forget about the heat and you elegantly fight over who gets the last mouthful of eclair*.

Jila bakery Loutolim

Clearly, I did not take a photo of the cakes themselves because I was too busy a) drooling and b) scoffing. Sorry.

*Me, obviously.

What to eat in Goa when you’re allergic to prawns…

About four years ago, I was at home, the wino was out and I decided to indulge myself with an old favourite dinner – salad with garlic and chilli prawns. About 30 mins after eating, my face started to feel a little funny so I headed to a mirror and was surprised to see that my face had swollen up to the size of a very large beachball. Given my face is quite round at the best of times, the fact that I’d noticed meant that it was quite an impressive swelling.

I called NHS Direct in a bit of a panic, they suggested I get my ass to hospital, so I did. An anti-histamine shot later, I was fine. A few weeks later, I went to a lovely Thai restaurant and ate a prawn cracker. Et voila, beachball face. Who knew prawn crackers had actual prawn in them?

Back to the doctor, referred to allergy clinic, long story short, I had managed to develop an allergy to prawns. One of the most heartbreaking things that’s ever happened to me – I truly love seafood. Whilst I’ve not been officially diagnosed with a full shellfish allergy, I haven’t eaten any shellfish since the diagnosis, apart from squid which I hadn’t really thought about being a shellfish, but it is (just the shell is on the inside).

So whilst I was super excited about going to Goa, I knew that I’d suffer insane amounts of jealousy watching the husband chow down on freshly caught prawns the size of rolling pins whilst I enjoyed yet another Russian salad. Yes, I could eat fish but prawns. I LOVE PRAWNS.

The wino's prawns.

Turns out, I had nothing to worry about – Goan food with its Portuguese and Indian heritage is wide ranging and diverse and there are a lot of delicious meat and veg based curries I could enjoy for those times when the ‘fresh’ fish plate they waft under your nose to choose your fish contains only fish with their eyes removed so you can’t see how not-fresh they are.

Whilst there were some terrible meals we ate, there were a few that were completely stand out and I’m still dreaming about them now.

Casa Susegad, where we spent our second week, has an amazing chef called Joanita who creates dishes based on your personal whim for dinner each evening. One evening, we asked for something traditionally Goan and were presented with Chicken Cafreal curry, a rich, unctuous dish of coriander, chilli and garlic all perfectly balanced and not hot, just beautifully spiced. As I recovered from illness this weekend, I decided to try and recreate this dish at home, with a little help from Google and my own little twist (based on missing ingredients).

Below is my attempt. Clearly not as a good – if you want it at it’s best, go to Casa Susegad!

Chicken Cafreal ingredients

Goan Chicken Cafreal – serves four

  • 8-10 bone-in skinned chicken legs and thighs (depending on how greedy your dinner companions are)
  • Marinade ingredients
  • A large bunch of fresh coriander (cilantro for my Yank buddies)
  • 8 green chillies – I used finger chillies but you can probably soften the heat by using larger chillies
  • 1 bulb of garlic, peeled
  • 2.5cm of peeled ginger
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (in Goa they use a seed called khus khus but I couldn’t find this and was told that sesame seeds are the closest match)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Other ingredients
  • Oil
  • Butter

Method

  • Take all the marinade ingredients and put into a blender
  • Blend till you get a rich green sauce –  I had to add oil at this stage as my blender is rubbish but a tablespoon brought it all together
  • Pour this over the chicken pieces, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least two hours – or ideally, overnight
  • Heat the butter in a large pan (that has a lid) with a little oil to stop it burning over a medium heat
  • Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes till lightly browned
  • Add the rest of the marinade to the pan and add a little water (150ml) to stop the sauce sticking
  • Cover and cook for 30-40 mins until the chicken is cooked through
  • Serve with vegetables of your choice and rice

Personally, next time I make this I’ll probably increase the chilli as we like things a bit spicier but this was a good, mild curry. Also, you’ll think you’re adding far too much coriander but keep going – you want that coriandery warmth to be the lead flavour, not anything else.

Enjoy!

Chicken Cafreal

Private beaches and hammocks by the pool…

In the week we’ve been home, it’s snowed and I have been struck down with a terrible virus from which I may never recover. Well, OK, I’ve got flu and I’ll be fine in a couple of days I’m sure but right now I’m feeling utterly sorry for myself and the warm sandy beaches of Goa seem like a lifetime ago.

I’m hoping, however, that writing about it and looking over photos will bring back the warmth to my bones and a song in my heart. Or at least help stop the runny nose for a few minutes

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Because I love a good chronological timeline, I’m going to start with week one in North Goa.

The thing with Goa is that you can spend a lifetime looking at hotels on TripAdvisor and Hotels.com and i-escape and everywhere else and you can never be sure what you’re going to get. There’s a lot of truly awful looking places and lots of truly amazing looking places and a huge amount of places in between. So I set parameters…

  1. We’re not teenagers so Anjuna and the clubbing bits of Goa were no go(a)
  2. I wanted air conditioning (because I’m a big wimp)
  3. Marcel wanted a pool AND proximity to a beach (because he’s demanding)
  4. A maximum of one 1-star and two 2-star reviews on Trip Advisor (the three, four, five star reviews could be as many as possible)

So we looked. The hotel I loved the most was way out of budget.Turns out Brangelina stayed there. We are not Brangelina.

From there it was a hop, skip and a jump to Instagram to see if there were other nice places near Elsewhere. I searched for Mandrem + Pool and found two places that fit our needs – Lazy Dog and Jamboree Creek. And to be honest, because Jamboree Creek responded first, we booked it. And I’m so very glad we did.

The entrance to Jamboree CreekOur hut

Close up of outdoor shower

Jamboree Creek is equidistance between Ashvem and Mandrem beaches but far enough removed that you’re not disturbed by clubbing and traffic and other people. The hotel is made up of 11 thatched beach huts with incredible outdoor showers and cute little terraces. The rooms are basic but clean – don’t book here if you’re looking for ultimate luxury (for that, book Elsewhere and tell me how it is!) The creek is right at the end of the property, just past the pool. Turns out creeks are tidal (I’m guessing cleverer people than me already knew that) so whilst it’s interesting when the tide is out, it’s stunning when the tide is in – you can watch birds and fish and butterflies and all sorts of nature just being all nature-y and stuff (I’m not particularly outdoorsy, can you tell?)

The creek IMAG0996

There are hammocks and cushioned benches by the pool so you can while away hours, sipping on a hibiscus juice from the organic garden. So we did that a lot for our first couple of days, then we went to the beach.

jamboree creek pool hammock

Jamboree Creek shares a bridge to a private beach with Elsewhere so rather than having to negotiate busy roads and other people (ugh) we could walk to the bridge, cross the creek and arrive at a beautiful, quiet stretch of beach all to ourselves.

The beautiful bridge to the private beach Boats

We headed to Ashvem on our first trip which was a bit of a culture shock – banging techno or terrible trance which gave me significant flashbacks to my clubbing youth and had to leave after a very mediocre lunch (I’m not going to give up eating opportunities).

On our next visit to the beach, we headed right up towards Mandrem and this was a much more pleasant experience – we’d been recommended traditional Goan food at a beach shack called End of the World and whilst it didn’t end up being the best food we ate, it was definitely the best we’d eaten at that stage. I’ll do a whole separate post on the food in Goa because the thing we discovered is that food in Goa can be very hit and miss but when it’s good, it’s fantastic.

Sunset at Mandrem

This bridge was my nemesis. In that I fell off it into waist height water. It didn't come after me and try to kill me.
This bridge was my nemesis. In that I fell off it into waist height water. It didn’t come after me and try to kill me.

This was only the second season for Jamboree Creek but Priyanka (the owner who is only 25) and Vishnu (the manager) were both so incredibly helpful and good that it felt much more established. Couple of tiny niggles. It’s a lovely little boutique experience so we would have liked to see a menu that reflected that. Whilst the food was absolutely fine at Jamboree Creek, it would have been nice to see a little more flexibility, variety and local dishes – Russian salads are quite boring after a while. Our room had a TV and a four poster bed. Both great, but realised that when you lie back in bed, unless you’re both in the top most right hand corner, you can’t see the screen! But that’s about it – if you’re not a nature lover, you are very close to it (in that we had a lizard in our sink and a frog in our toilet on separate occasions) so it may not be the place for you. I am truly terrible with nature and insects and this was all fine for me.

Tiny frog in toilet Sink lizard

If you’re looking for a place that’s a little off the beaten track, with great service, a lovely pool and proximity to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world (probably), then go here. I’d happily go back. Please, someone, send me back. Now. Please?

Us