Relish Goan food made by Albertina Pereira at Tharavadu, Hotel Casino

Albertina Pereira is a purist in these times of fusion and crossover cooking. Her cooking is all about tradition and timeless tales associated with the food. Savour Goan cuisine made by her and resident chefs at Tharavadu, Hotel Casino. Dinner buffet is on till November 14.

If it is Goan food it must be sorpotel, xiacuti and vindaloo, you must be thinking. No, its time to change your view. As Albertina lays out an elaborate authentic spread, she tells you about each little tradition and history behind a dish. A birth of a child, a funeral, a wedding all have specialties for the occasion and you get to savour that on a platter. Even housewarming calls for a special dish. And so at Tharavadu, is a feast of the specialties and also the everyday food of ordinary homes.

“My father was a cook, ours was an ordinary household,” she says humbly but it was because of her keen interest that she learnt cooking, of course “by trial and errors”. She now runs a beach shack, Southern End, on Candolim Beach in Bardez, Goa.

Recipes on the Net

Goan food recipes on the Internet almost shock her. The use of tastemakers in the market for additional taste is culinary blasphemy and so she prefers not to improvise if the right ingredients are not present. “Make a dish with what's available but do not use another ingredient,” she states.

It is sambarichi curry (prawn curry with mango seeds) that is a must at a Goan wedding, a house warming or at a gathering a month after a death. That's tradition to her and food is all about tradition.

A traditional banana leaf platter will consist of rice, a sweet (‘won'), pickled mango, small puris, sambraichi curry, a piece of bread and a banana. And the famed sweet, dodol (made from coconut milk and jaggery) is made when the first child is born to a daughter. It is also prepared when the daughter leaves with her child for her husband's house. These are the stories behind every dish that Albertina tells you as she explains typical Goan Christian food. Hindus don't use onions and garlic in their food during festivals. They don't eat beef or pork.

For the food fest she has the most popular pork sorpotel, where pork heart and liver bits are fried and cooked with spicy paste of onions, ginger garlic, tamarind, ground together with vinegar. “It can be prepared days in advance and gets better with the passage of time,” says Albertina. She explains each detail slowly and calmly as if the food is simmering all along, while she narrates the history of her food. “It is handed down by our ancestors and we must not alter it,” she says, citing that in the famous Balachau there is traditionally no use of coconut but a recipe on the Internet had it!

Salted fish, fish ambotik, “made only from shark, cat fish or kite fish”, sanna or steamed rice cakes fermented with Goan toddy, caldin, (either fish or vegetables), roast beef, preserved fish like ‘mol' or ‘para' are all cooked with love by Albertina. By the end one knows and realises how the tradition of a land plays an important role in the cuisine. So now savour Goan food with tradition in tow.

Strangely Albertina ends by saying, “Actually I love plants more than cooking.” One can only say that she must be keeping a very fine garden!

The dinner buffet comes at Rs. 650 inclusive of taxes.

Priyadershini S.

Keywords: Goan food

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