Tag Archives: seafood

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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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