Steeped in the medieval past of Goa are tales of conquerors, seafarers and missionaries; of Portuguese ships docking and the mingling of cultures, languages and food with its ethnic people. Today, the Portuguese influences have dovetailed with the Indian to create a unique blend in all spheres. Much visited for its shimmering, gold-sand beaches, trance parties and spiritual experiences, the Goan cuisine seals the love for both domestic and international travellers to this place.
The month of May brings scorching heat to Dilliwallahs and its neighbourhood. The mere thought of Goa can evoke balmy memories of the pint-sized island and its cuisine. An invite from Taj Centre, Gurugram to a special Chef’s Table and Masterclass with Chef Edridge Vaz sat in my mailbox the other day. Miguel Arcanjo, the famed restaurant in Taj Exotica Resort and Spa, led by the dynamic Chef Edridge Vaz, offers a carefully curated menu featuring classic Goan cuisines and a fine dining experience in Goa. To attend his masterclass in our city and be a part of the culinary extravaganza seemed a dream come true.
There’s a reason why everyone loves a masterclass. It demonstrates the skill and tenacity required to function a kitchen, to learn a tip or two and enjoy an interactive session with the Chef. No wonder as soon as he started his session, Chef Vaz was recorded live on Instagram and a zillion pictures clicked. For someone who was stuck in the crazy Gurugram traffic, I watched the recording of Mushrooms Piri-Piri sitting in the car. Ah! the brilliance of technology and social media. It can be distracting for those present but a boon for the ones absent. I’m glad I reached in time for the Goan fish curry. The quintessential dish of Goa, the Goan Fish curry is loved all over. Goan cuisine is all about curry pastes and the trick to perfecting this curry is to use a paste of coconut, turmeric, red chilli, coriander, cumin, garlic and tamarind. This and a robust fish is required. Sliding the marinated pomfret in the boiling curry at a later stage ensures that the fish doesn’t fall apart while adding its fishy flavour to the curry.
Aptly called “Goan Rhapsody” the meal comprised of dishes distinct in texture and taste under each category. Together they created a symphony of flavours that could take one to gastronome haven. Prawns Piri- Piri, Chicken Jirem Mirem, crunchy Rawa fried vegetables and Mushroom Coriander masala were served as appetisers. The spicy plump prawns and the slight sour kick in Chicken from the toddy vinegar made an ideal non-vegetarian pair.
The mains included Goan Fish curry, Pork Vindaloo, Mutton Xacuti, Chicken Cafreal for the non-vegetarians. For extravagant meals like these, sometimes I wish there was an award for “The Dish of the day.” I know they don’t exist but I made a short trip to wonderland with every bite of Pork Vindaloo. Soft, juicy chunks of pork in their spice-vinegar paste fell delicately in the mouth with every bite and my eyes closed in the sheer bliss of flavours. For the vegetarians, there are plenty of choices. Vegetables in fresh coconut, red chilli curry called Tarkarachem Hoomand, Mushroom Xacuti and Bhindi Sol. The predominant ingredient in Goan cuisine is coconut and all the vegetarian dishes including Dal Varan are cooked using it. Traditional steamed brown rice and Poi, the chewy, slightly husked bread of wheat flour, made perfect accompaniments to go with the gravies.
‘The Queen of the Goan dessert’, Bebinca can have layers ranging from 7 to 16. This multi-layered and incredibly soft pudding with its golden brown sweetness and silky smooth texture is a must have at the festival.
A superlative gastronomic experience in one of the finest luxury restaurants in Gurugram, the Goan Rhapsody at Taj City Centre, Gurugram must not be missed. It’s truly a culinary celebration of Goan cuisine!
Date: May 11 to 20, 2018
Time: Lunch 1230 hrs to 1500 hrs | Dinner 1900 hrs to 2230 hrs
Venue: Culina 44, Taj City Centre, Gurugram
Terms and conditions apply.