Mumbai Food: Enjoy traditional Portuguese fare at this Fort eatery

Jun 22, 2017, 08:28 IST | Joanna Lobo

Inspired by the revelry around Porto's patron saint, São João's feast, a SoBo eatery will host a food fest that celebrates Goa's popular poee and traditional Portuguese fare

Chorizo Poee. Pics/Bipin Kokate
Chorizo Poee. Pics/Bipin Kokate

If you have been to Goa or hail from the sunshine state, you've likely eaten poee - a versatile bread that is soft, fluffy and airy inside, with a crusty exterior. Made with wheat flour and bran, it can be used to mop up curries, or stuffed with choris.

This weekend, you can sample this soft poee, brought in from Goa, at a festival called Porto and Poee, at The Local. "We are doing this for Sao Joao Festival (feast of St John), which is celebrated in a big way in Porto, Portugal, and in Goa, on June 23 and 24," says owner Meldan D'Cunha.

The menu, thus, is filled with traditional Portuguese fare. We drop by for a preview before the festival, and settle in for a typical feast.

Fofos
Fofos

All the way from Porto
Our first dish is the Salada De Presunto Com Figos (Rs 290) - a smoked ham and fig salad that is sweet and savoury. Chunks of cold mozzarella team up with salty-smoky ham, and the sweetness of dried figs and mini oranges tones down the slight bitterness of the baby spinach. We also love the crunchiness of the Torrandas de Camarao (Rs 290) or prawn toasts - loaded with onion and chilli, and topped with egg.

The Fofos (Rs 190) are the highlight of the night. The rolls are stuffed with minced fish and a bit of onion and coriander. They come in two versions - coated with rava, and without it. We prefer the non-rava version, which ensures the stuffing remains moist despite the frying. The dish comes with a spicy mango salsa, and a sweet-spicy smooth plum sauce. D'Cunha tells us that the classic Fish Rolls of Portugal are made with bacalhau (salted cod), but this version uses fresh fish (Indian basa).

The Sangolda bakery from where the poees are sourced
The Sangolda bakery from where the poees are sourced

On the side, we try the Portuguese drinks (all Rs 260). The Madeiran Poncha is a sweet strong drink made with aguardente (sugarcane brandy). Port and Tonic is a finer version of the gin and tonic, made with white port and tonic water. It is a smooth drink, whose potency hits you much later. The Portuguese Mule is a fizzy ginger, beer and lime concoction.

Torrandas de Camarao
Torrandas de Camarao

Putting poee to the test
For the festival, D'Cunha approached a few well-known city bakeries, even offering them a recipe to prepare the poee, but none of them were keen to make it. So, he did the next best thing - he brought it all the way from Goa, from a bakery behind his home in Sangolda. While we appreciate the dedication in sourcing the bread, it means that we get a poee that is a tad dry.

The Chorizo Poee (Rs 190) didn't impress us choris pao fans. The sausages could have been cured a bit more, and the meat wasn't moist enough for the dry poee. But, the bread does help us mop up the Camarao de Caldinha (Rs 330), and Caldeirada (Rs390). The former is a mildly spiced yellow curry with juicy prawns and gherkins, and the latter is a stew-like fish preparation.

Poee
Poee

"Portuguese food is simple. It doesn't need fancy ingredients, and can be made with everything you have in the kitchen," shares D'Cunha, adding that he sourced the recipes from a family in Goa that still prepares these dishes, and from his mother's cookbooks. D'Cunha did trials at home and then trained his chef, Gregory Rozario.

We end the meal with Bibinca and Dodol (both Rs 160) - both sweet, comforting and familiar flavours.

D'Cunha, who hopes to open a Portuguese bar in Mumbai some day, will for now play music from the region and screen clips of Portuguese soccer. "We want to create a Carnival-like atmosphere," he says.

On: June 23 to June 26, 6 pm to 1 am
At: The Local, Plot No 111-A, Currimjee Building, MG Road, opposite University of Mumbai, Fort. 
Call: 9930244326

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