Goa, spice and all things nice

The newest Goan restaurant in the city impresses with its seafood fare and tastes of home, says Joanna Lobo

On June 24, Goans all over the world celebrated the feast of Sao Joao (St John the Baptist) with much food, revelry and by jumping into wells. Given the lack of usable walls and the general dire water situation, us Bomoicars look for other ways to celebrate. Last Sunday, a Goan friend and I decided to treat ourselves to a long lunch at the newest Goan restaurant in the city. It turned out to be well worth the drive to an unfamiliar street in Tardeo.

Marine delights

Goan Spice says the sign on the door, with a line below simply stating ‘seafood’; elsewhere the tag line is ‘Taste of the Sea’. The door opens into a narrow area, with six tables, a wide mirror on one wall and for quirk, a clock made of spoons and forks. There are shades of orange, not saffron, in the lamps on the ceiling. Otherwise the décor is limited, a clear sign that they would rather customers focus on food. It’s a packed menu – there’s Goan food (predominantly seafood), some North Indian fare (butter chicken), and a few Chindian options. We resist the urge to ask what was in the Portuguese Chicken and the Fish Mandovi Fry and whether there is really a need for Bhindi Recheado. There’s no alcohol, and the only meat served is chicken.

As true Goans, our attention is on the seafood, which is quite the catch. There are crabs, clams, oysters, mori, pomfret, surmai, rawa and halwa offered up in the usual recheado, vindaloo, masala, fry and chilli fry.

Our Kalwa Goan Masala (₹200) and Tisrya Goan Masala (₹200) come heaped under a simple masala of onion-tomato and coconut. The kalwa (oysters) are just as I remember eating them in Goa many years ago – soft, spongy and with a hint of saltiness. The Goan masala is mild enough to add some depth to the fish but not overpower it. Prawns Balchao (₹320) comes as the gravy version, not the more popular pickled version. It’s a dark gloopy mess in which the prawns stand out, big and fat. It’s tangy but has the familiar balchão elements – onions, tomatoes, and a lot of garlic.

Prawns Rava Fry (₹300) is expectedly crunchy and has the lightest rava coating, clearly using oil to add flavor. Accompanying carbs are either pao, amboli, roti or bhakri; we opt for the roti.

Popular eatery

As we wait for our thali, which surprisingly takes the longest time to prepare, things keep moving around us. Goan Spice is a small space so it’s easy to get caught up in the surroundings. A child drops a bottle of cola on the floor, a table of nine walk in and order everything vegetarian on the menu, people keep passing by and looking in and have to be told, apologetically, that there’s no room. The wait staff keep recommending the Crab Lollipop. A lot of the food is sent out as parcels and we hear the words surmai, thali and vindaloo used liberally. Clearly, everyone is feasting this Sunday afternoon.

The thali when it arrives lives up to the popularity in delivery orders. Crab Thali (₹380) has two crab dishes – a whole crab slathered in the Goan masala of before, and claws submerged in a thick coconut curry that is almost like a xacuti. There’s a Sukka Jawla Kismoor, crunchy and salty; a simple dudhi bhajji with mustard seeds and coconut; sol kadhi minus any seasoning; and Tisrya Masala. The rice is Basmati, which is a disappointment. One thali is a sufficient meal for a person and second helpings are recommended.

Although full, we order dessert. There’s Bebinca (₹100), which unsurprisingly tastes like it came out of a box, and Caramel Custard (₹70) – perfectly wobbly, well balanced and creamy.

The Naik family that started the restaurant is Goan, from a village near Vagator. Their non-Goan chef earned his chops working in the Goa Portuguesa kitchen. Goan Spice has much going for it: good food, affordable rates (they don’t charge taxes), fresh fish and familiar flavours. Go here for the seafood, and maybe order that highly recommended Crab Lollipop.

Goan Spice Shop 3, 84/94, Zainab Manzil, Ground Floor, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Marg, Tardeo; open from 12pm to 4pm, 7.30pm to midnight; phone number: 6364446444

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 1:04:08 PM |

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