Mumbai Food: Discover Goa's vegetarian secret at this new eatery

May 24, 2018, 09:49 IST | Fiona Fernandez

This dish, a dried green peas-based one that is cooked with fennel, mustard and curry leaves, engaged us, and how

Chole Bature

If you're a hardcore non-vegetarian who approaches menus with a one-dimensional radar, chances are, you might end up missing the good stuff on the other side of the divide. Well, you can't blame us this time, considering we were seated in one of the city's most popular destinations for Goan food. Thoroughly distracted by the menu that had an array of seafood and red meat to choose from, including a few recent additions, we chose not to look into our fellow veggie-eating companions' plate until the aromas couldn't keep us from taking a spoonful of the Panji green watana rassa that came served with bhatura and a savoury banana bread.

That's when the penny dropped. This dish, a dried green peas-based one that is cooked with fennel, mustard and curry leaves, engaged us, and how. The subtle sweetness of the banana bread/bun that we dipped into the semi-thick gravy was reminiscent of the feeling one would have if they earned an extra candy at a party for simply showing up. It beautifully complimented the otherwise savoury experience. By now, we had moved in to polish off the remaining portion of the rassa.

Curious and sated after this pleasant veggie intervention, we later picked the brain of Hussain Shahzad, executive chef at O Pedro about its origins. "Being a pescetarian community, the Saraswats figured unique ways to use local vegetables and seafood. They chose to stay away from land animals to satiate their protein needs. The watana rassa is a Saraswat breakfast/teatime staple eaten either with the Goa bun, pao or chapati." He added that the dish finds its place on the menus of famous cafés in Goa such as Real, Tato and Bhosle, where it's colloquially referred to as the "patal bhaji" (a curry of peas). "A couple of meals and tea time conversations with locals at these cafés during our research in Goa sparked off the inspiration of combining the two quintessential dishes served at these establishments. The savoury spice of the curry is a contrast to the subtle sweetness from the bun," he informed.
This carnivore did end up having to eat humble [green] pie.

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