For meat lovers, what can be better than some classic Goan fish and pork being served on the plate by a Goan chef? At the Goan Food Festival, currently underway at The MoMo Café in Courtyard by Marriott Pune, Hinjewadi, you will be treated to the best of delicacies that the state offers. And the Goan-themed décor adds to the flavour.
Chef Ignatius, a native of Goa and the man behind the food festival, is showcasing the vibrant culinary heritage of his state. Cooking with fresh seafood and vegetables, making the masala and including coconut in almost everything is what Goan food is all about and here it is no different. With a heavy Portuguese inspiration, alcohol forms an integral part of the Goan cuisine too.
As we sat at the nicely decorated table, our server welcomed us with a refreshing glass of Kokum sherbet. Starters soon followed with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. I am not really a fan of paneer but the Paneer Peri Peri looked inviting and yes, it was soft and absolutely delicious. The biggest surprise though for me was Goan Potato Chops. Every time I think I have had enough of potato, there is always a different version that bowls me over. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, it is a perfect snack to go with your drink.
Next up was my personal favourite — Chicken Cafreal. Ever since I first tasted it a few years ago in Goa, Chicken Cafreal makes me drool every single time I have it. The Cafreal masala made with green chillies and coriander as its base ingredients is on the spicier side and a treat if you love your chicken spicy. For fish lovers, the fish in Recheado Masala is a must have. A typical Goan masala, don’t fall for its red colour, it is not as spicy as it looks but absolutely delectable. For me, the only concern was that the fish served was basa, which is what most restaurants serve nowadays due to its easy availability.
We were served the Chorizo Pao, a Portuguese-inspired pork dish from the live counter. If you eat pork, the Chorizo is a must try. I kept aside my fork and knife and just picked it up to take a big bite of the sumptuous pork stuffed in pao which instantly transported me to Goa.
Moving on to the main course, there is a plethora of options available. The buffet spread is extensive and I was walking back and forth to decide what should come on my plate first. I settled for Chicken Xacuti, Goan Fish Curry and Lamb Vindaloo. All the non-vegetarian dishes were well cooked and tasted heavenly. Served with hot generously buttered roti, the Vindaloo with vinegar in it did tickle my taste buds.
For vegetarians, the buffet included Goan-style Bhindi Sukhem, Cabbage Fogaath, Dudiacho Mergol and Dal Varan.
Even with our tummy full, we could not skip the tempting array of desserts. I finally gave in to a sweetness overload and got a plateful of them. The Goans love their Bebinca and are very proud of it. This unique Goan cake/ pudding is mainly made of eggs, flour, coconut milk and sugar. If you have never tasted it before, make sure you do so now!
Apart from Bebinca and Dodol — another Goan delicacy — the spread had enticing desserts like Passion Fruit Mousse, Banana Cake, Dutch Truffle Cake and more. The Hot Chocolate Pudding was a perfect end to our scrumptious dinner.
The Goan Food Festival is being held at The MoMo Café, Courtyard by Marriott Pune Hinjewadi, till November 3, 7 pm onwards.