Taste the flavours of Goa at the Taj Residency, Thiruvananthapuram

What with the lilting Goan beats, silhouettes of coconut palms and servers dressed in colourful Hawaiian prints, the scene is all set for a culinary adventure Goan-style. Well we most definitely are not dining on a beach in Goa, but it sure feels like we are. We are in fact in The Fifth Element restaurant at the Taj Residency, Vazhutacaud, which has been decked up in a Goan-theme for its ‘Go Ga Ga Ga Over Goa' food fete.

Along with the regular dinner buffet at the restaurant are included a variety of vegetarian and non-vegetarian Goan dishes, whipped up by Chef Fernandez Heremenegildo of the Taj Holiday Village, Goa, who has flown in especially for the fete. Having trained under renowned Goan culinary expert chef Rego, chef Fernandez bubbles with enthusiasm as he starts talking about the wonderful flavours that make up his native cuisine, some of which he has used to create the dishes for the fete.

“Much like Kerala cuisine, we use a lot of coconut, coconut milk, raw mango, kokum – that's Goan kokum, which is much softer than Kerala kokum (kodampuli), red chilli and so on,” he says as he points to the thick and spicy Goan prawn curry, which tastes remarkably like our own kodampuli fish curry save for the slightly different tang of the kokum.

The Raw Mango Bardez was also very similar to our pachadi, albeit a lot more sour.

Of peri peri sauce

The appetisers Chicken Cafreal (grilled chicken marinated in coriander, green chilli and toddy vinegar) and vegetable fottam (vegetables coated in semolina) with peri peri sauce dip, though, are distinctly Goan in taste and flavour, as were the Vindaloo, Vegetable Xacuti (pronounced shaa-koo-ti), Corinader Chicken and the Pork Sorpotel, which were some of the other Goan main courses on the buffet.

Of the lot the taste of the piquant peri peri sauce was intersting. “It is a favourite in Goan cuisine; a throwback from the Portuguese colonial times, which is made of red masala, red wine vinegar, parsley, fermented pepper paste and so on,” he explains as serenade artistes Croydon on the guitar and Lloyd on the gumat (kind of like the ghatam) come to our table to do a peppy rendition of Galyan sakli sonyachi

In the dessert counter too there were a couple of typical Goan sweets. The sugarless Dodol made with rice flour, coconut milk, jaggery and cashew nuts was a savoury treat. The Bibinca, which is made of layers of coconut milk and egg pancakes was delectable, to say the least.

Each day the menu at the fete changes, there will be at least four non-vegetarian, four vegetarian and lots of appetisers, salads and desserts from Goan cuisine to choose from. The fete is on till April 18 and costs Rs. 999 (all inclusive). Ola Goa.

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