‘I’m coming home, I’ve done my time…’ a favorite song during the 70’s, but I could not stop humming it as we approached the little yellow bungalow in Taleigao, with red roof tiles a sign above its doorway simply stating ‘Branco’s’. A little bird had whispered in my ear that this Bar and restaurant served ‘authentic Goan food’, and we were now walking on the red, white and yellow cobbled stone pathway to the restaurant.
Branco’s…run by Orlando Branco, the youngest son of Francisco and Veronica Branco who had originally started the place. Built on a 150 year old Portuguese Armoury godown…one building still stands there; it was originally supposed to be a farmhouse. ‘But one day, my grandmother saw a snake on the premises,’ smiles Orlando, ‘and so Dad converted it into a restaurant in 1981.
The cosy ambience strikes you immediately. The center focus is the Bar. The menu is also very well designed…wooden slats with the Branco seal. ‘My parents loved to run this restaurant,’ says Orlando, ‘and we have still retained the cooks who had been with them.’
A mural on the wall depicts the culinary tools used by our grandmother’s in the yester years. The Adoli, Gurguret,Chul, Dovlo, Fatre, Koyte….I am not talking inca Mexicana…it was a history lesson for me too, as Orlando explained each and every item stating that the food was made in the kitchen using the very same equipment.
Yes siree….no electric mixer, the rogdo, the round grinding stone was used to make the curry and reichade masala. And looking at the Prawn masala put in front of us as starters, the spices coarsely ground to a paste, I can well believe him. No electric mixer would be able to get this consistency.
And then there was the Gabodie..the fish roe fingers….uummm….its been ages since I had eaten this mouth melting delicacy. Crisp on the outside, crumby on the inside…just heaven.
There was salted tongue and crispy chicken…served on elegant white plates. The word appetizer is just right. These starters had you begging for more.
Orlando has retained the traditional Goan touch. Recommended on the menu is the Chonak(Snapper), Gobro (Rock fish), Tomso (Red snapper). ‘Where do you get your sea food?’ Joe asks him. ‘From Malwan at this time,’ was his reply, ‘although I would not recommend the Crabs or the mussels during this period.’
‘During the months of October-November, we make a delicious stuffed crab,’ he smiles.
But its not only the sea food. One can have a wide variety of meats…chicken, red meat cooked in those mouth watering gravies that leaves you craving for more.
The waiter brings in fresh plates with the tradition Goa Prawn Curry/Rice…one could also have it with the crusty Goan bread. The traditional Goan sausages also appear. ‘Another strong favourite is our Portugues dishes,’ he states, ‘we make a good Fish Escabesh and a Guizado.’
We take him at his word as we dig into the rice curry and sausages. The quality of the food is good, the prices very economical.
And another surprise…his desserts. Listed on the menu are lemon crumble, Chocolate chip surprise, Cappucino Mousse, plus the usual local favorites. Definitely a sweet finale.
The mural mocks us gently as we sit back replete. ‘Your coming home,’ it seems to say, ‘its fine to experiment on fancy foods but now you are home.’ Orlando carries on not only the legacy of his parents, but a legacy of Goan food made in the days gone by. A yellow ribbon can fly away in the breeze, but that little yellow house in Taleigao is here to stay.