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Sunshine on a plate

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A new restaurant in Juhu promises an authentic Goan meal, minus the frills

The last time we climbed the staircase inside Grandmama’s Café in Juhu, we found good Goan meat at the end. The now shuttered Porto & Poie, with its azulejo tiles and black and white photographs, won us over with its simple, comforting Goan food and innovative cocktails. Today, climbing the staircase leads us to another Goan place, this time helmed by a couple — Lloyd and Nerissa Braganza — who are as passionate about cooking Goan food as we are about eating it.

Branching out

The interiors haven’t changed much, with the exception of a few embellishments. The photographs on the wall are from Lloyd’s family. There are still plates on the ceiling and the upholstery is the same but the walls are covered in artwork showcasing life in Goa, the colourful caricatures reminding us of the great Mario Miranda and his take on local life. House of Lloyd started off in the Braganzas’ garden in Candolim, where it soon became known for its grilled food.

Now, this House has made its way to Mumbai where it hopes to introduce the city to authentic Goan food. “No, we don’t serve vegetarian sorpotel here though we have been asked,” says Nerissa, with a smile. There’s no fish vindaloo either.

Instead, the menu is replete with Goan Catholic food, some of which has been inspired by the Portuguese. There are beef croquettes (packed with meat and crumb fried), rissois, tongue roast and a fiery pork vindaloo, and kismoor. One bite of the gravy soaked Anant Gadho’s Ros Omelette (₹400) and it felt like we were standing outside a stall at the Margao bus stand, chomping down on that filling midnight treat. The omelette – fluffy and stacked with onions and green chillies — was sandwiched between two halves of a chicken gravy soaked poee making for a messy starter. The Agassaim Sausage Chilli Fry (₹400) won us over with its spicy aroma; the sausage cooked with heaps of onions and potatoes to be mopped up with even more poee.

Spiced just right

There was poee (₹60) with everything and we weren’t complaining, starved as we are for a taste of that versatile, pita-like bread. We used it to mop up the Mutton Xacuti (₹550) starring tender pieces of meat engulfed in dry roasted spices and heavy on the coconut, and the Goan Fish Curry (₹500), which had filets of bhetki swimming in a bright orange curry redolent with kokum and tirphal. We aren’t too fond of a fish curry that has boneless fish but luckily, there was other food to distract us from this oversight. Kokum (or sola as the Goans call it) also made its way into a tangy cocktail, Amsol Twist (₹600) and the lightly seasoned Sungta Solache (₹700), prawns cooked in light stew-like gravy.

As the meal progressed, so did the spice quotient. Our favourite was Nerissa’s Prawns Balchao (₹650), that vinegar and masala-laden prawn pickle. Meant to be eaten as a side dish or a pickle, Nerissa and Lloyd spoke about people often confusing it for a gravy dish. “They expect fresh prawns and this tangy curry but that’s not a proper balchao. We salt and dry our prawns before making the balchao so that they last longer,” says Lloyd.

Family production

All the masalas used at House of Lloyd are made in-house, using ingredients sourced from Goa. The sorpotel on the menu comes from their home kitchen — his mother Celia cooks it and that’s why the dish is named after her. Poees come in every week, which means it gets a bit dry by the time it reaches the table. In their bid to stay true to Goan food, the couple hasn’t strayed too much on the fusion route. They do have a few experimental vegetarian dishes, which take inspiration from Hindu Goan cuisine. Our pick is the Kelfool Melgor (₹450), a dry dish was a flavourful and crunchy mixture of banana blossom cooked with gherkins, black gram and a dash of coconut.

Dessert here, are Nerissa’s domain. The star was Tender Coconut Souffle (₹350), a dessert made with condensed milk, gelatin, sugar, coconut water and chunks of tender coconut. It’s a soft, creamy but light. The sawdust pudding, Serradurra (₹350), was equally delicious, made with real biscuit crumbs and whipped cream. Her famous Bread Pudding (₹350) reminded us of a Christmas cake — studded as it was with rum and Cointreau soaked dried fruits. The specialty of the restaurant may be the grilled food (which is only available in the evening) but we will return for the desserts.

House of Lloyd, like its predecessor, is expensive. But, the food is good and the D’Souzas are extremely passionate about showcasing real Goan food.

House of Llyod, Hotel Royal Garden, First Floor, Above Grandma’s Café, Juhu Tara Road, Juhu; 30151936

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 6:23:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/sunshine-on-a-plate/article24155739.ece

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