Goan goodness, once again
SoBo's latest Goan joint confirms its place as a home away from the sunshine state for those craving authentic fare
Associating communities with an ingredient is common practice: Bengalis like fish, Keralites like beef, and Goans like pork. It is a pity how this stereotyping, in fact, erases the nuances that come with preparing local fare. It's an idea we get thinking about when, on a late Sunday evening, we visit the nondescript Tardeo eatery Goan Spice after a much-loved trip back in June last year. Immediately after the review, a colleague had remarked, "Arey! How can it be Goan if they don't serve pork?" To be fair, it's not like every Goan bleeds of sorpotel. But to be fairer, there's so much more than pig meat.
Kalwa rawa fry
The menu is extensive for the size of the restaurant. You can choose from seafood, chicken and vegetarian dishes — there's also a mini Chindian menu, staying true to the haunts in Goa that have started cropping up. We're here with a friend who moved to the city from Goa about three years ago, and she is quick to exclaim, "It's all too cheap" — it was her comparison with other seafood places in town that tend to burn a hole in the wallet.
Since we relished the crab thali last time, we decide to order it first. But the waiter informs us that all thalis are available only at lunchtime. The heart breaks a little, and we go ahead and we pick the prawn rawa fry (R300), squid Goan chilli fry (R250), veg pulao (R150), chicken xacuti (R180) and kalwa rava fry (R200).
The prawns arrive within 10 minutes and come with a bowl of green chutney, which you don't really need. The flavour of turmeric comes through in the coat of rawa — exactly how you'd make it at home. We order lime, which only elevates the taste. We have also tried the squid chilli fry before and so when it arrives, we're a bit turned off by the amount of capsicum. But the squid per se is delicious.
The mains arrive next; the generous inclusions of cauliflower, peas and carrots in the pulao are a pleasant surprise. It also complements the xacuti well. The gravy has well cooked chicken pieces with just the right tempering of spices, unlike the version we tried on our first visit. It could taste better if they didn't use desiccated coconut, though. Things get better from here with the kalwa or oysters — the perfect chakhna according to our friend. It is easy for beach shacks in Goa to cook them until it stretches like rubber. But this place gets it right. We mop up the plate quickly.
To end the day, we order bebinca, an Indo-Portuguese pudding (R100). We ask the staff whether this is just a slice from one of the cartons you find at Mapusa market but he confirms that it is made in the kitchen. It's not a happy ending as the bebinca, is served hot, which should never be the case. The layers are also tough to dig, and also sticky. We surely won't be ordering it on our next visit. But we know that there will be an encore simply because this place, irrespective of its limitations, feels like a mini vacation we didn't know we needed.
At Goan Spice, Zainab Manzil, Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya Marg, Tardeo.
Time 12 pm to 4 pm; 7.30 pm to 12 am
4/4 Exceptional, 3/4 Excellent, 2/4 very Good, 1/4 Good, 0.5/4 Average. Goan Spice didn't know we were there. The Guide reviews anonymously and pays for meals
The Guide first reviewed Goan Spice in June 2019. We conduct select, anonymous follow-ups to assess maintenance of standards
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