Interview: What's Australian import Sarah Todd cooking in Goa?
From being a contestant on a popular Australian TV cooking show, launching her own show and a restaurant in sunny Goa, foodie Sarah Todd is living it up
Q. What made you pick Goa as your second home?
A. Goa reminds me a lot of my hometown. I’m from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, so, it’s very relaxed, tropical, and there is abundance of seafood and summer fruits. This drew me to Goa and I have loved it ever since.
Sarah Todd (left) explores offbeat Goa in a still from Serve It Like Sarah
Q. You are known to work with fresh produce. What are your favourite local ingredients?
A. Spicy Goan sausage, red amaranth, toddy vinegar and fresh fenugreek.
Sarah Todd. Restaurateur
Q. Did you have to make changes to some of the recipes you discovered to make them nutritious as well as tasty?
A. It is not only about healthy cooking but about a holistic lifestyle which you will see in my new show, Serve It Like Sarah. I keep fit by doing yoga, using local produce, healthy ingredients and different styles of cooking — such as Ayurvedic cuisine. My dishes have a perfect balance of affluence and nutrition packed in together.
Q. You also explored Goa’s street food for the show. What was the experience like? Did anything surprise you?
A. I have been living like a local in Goa for a while now. In my new show, viewers will get to witness Goa in its natural, raw beauty while discovering its hidden culinary treasures. I actually have my favourite little roadside cutlet stall near my house and I love that this happens in India because we aren’t allowed to do this kind of thing in Australia. So, I really embrace it while I’m here.
Q. What were the hidden treasures, lesser-explored facets of food of Goa?
A. The inland with its beautiful forests and organic farms, and the land’s sustainability. A lot of people in Goa are embracing this way of living and I love that.
Q. After your Goan experience, what is the one dish that you feel anyone visiting Goa ought to try?
A. It’s got to be the Crab Xacuti with Poi, it’s my all-time favourite that I have created on the show and it will be on my menu at Antares in Goa.
The TV show begins on June 13, and will air on Mondays and Tuesdays, 10pm, Fox Life.
Crab Xacuti with an Aussie twist by Sarah Todd
>> 1 teaspoon shrimp paste
>> 3 vine-ripened tomatoes, scored
>> ice cubes
>> 1⁄4 cup (60 ml) sesame oil
>> 2 onions, finely chopped
>> 1 tablespoon garlic paste
>> 1 tablespoon ginger paste
>> 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, finely chopped
>> 1⁄2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds or fresh fenugreek
>> 3 teaspoons finely-chopped fresh turmeric or turmeric powder
>> 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
>> 1 teaspoon chilli powder
>> 2 cups (500 ml) coconut milk
>> 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
>> 2 tablespoons tamarind puree, or to taste
>> 2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
>> 2 tablespoons honey, or to taste
>> 2 whole crabs, cut into quarters
>> fresh poi and thinly sliced long red chilli, to serve
>> Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
>> Wrap the shrimp paste in foil and roast for 5–10 minutes or until fragrant, then set aside.
>> Meanwhile, place the tomatoes in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 minute or until the skins split, then drain and cool down in iced water. Peel and discard the skin, then finely chop and set aside.
>> Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass and cook for 10 minutes or until softened. Add the fenugreek, turmeric, spices and shrimp paste and cook for 1–2 minutes or until fragrant, then add the coconut milk, curry leaves, tamarind, fish sauce, honey and tomato and cook for another 18–20 minutes, stirring occasionally for the flavours to meld.
>> Add the crab and cook over low heat for 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. Add the lime juice, adjust the seasoning with extra tamarind, fish sauce and/or honey, if needed, to suit your taste.
>> To serve, ladle the soup into 4 bowls and serve with fresh poi alongside, scattered with chilli.