Sunday, May 18, 2008

Underneath the Mango Tree

The quiet of the night spelled excitement and mystery as we drove down the small by lane in Candolim to Corinnes. This was Lucio Miranda’s dream project, and along with his wife they conceptualized ‘Corinnes- a taste of Goa.’ After 34 years of flying, (Lucio would constantly point up in the sky when asked where Corinne was), she decided to put her skill of cooking to use, and now has opened a 32 covers restaurant.

We opened the menu, its vast array of familiar sounding names stared out at us. Fish Amotik, Prawn Balchao, Chicken Xacutti…..Joe’s salivary glands began working overtime. He just loves his Goan food. ‘What would you recommend,’ he asks taking away my opening line. I glared at him….I always believed in the maxim, ladies first.

Goan masala fried Prawns and the Prawn Rissois were the recommendations to start with followed by Fish Caldin, and Prawn curry rice. The starters arrive. The King Prawns in their shell were big…covering the plate with the tangy red sauce. The Rissois crispy on the outside, smooth and creamy inside…what a combo.

‘Why have you served the prawns with the head?’ I ask, looking at the heads decorating the plate. With precision, I had managed to take off the flesh from the shell, with the fork and knife. I was very pleased with myself. ‘You have to chew on the prawns head,’ Corinne says with her naughty smile, ‘the flavor is in there.’

Chew on the heads. I had always been taught to shell the prawns, treating that as wastage, and here she was telling me to chew the head. I normally do that to my better half. I gingerly take one coated with the rich gravy and take it to my mouth. Somehow the gravy had seeped into the shell, the rich flavors complementing the crunch of my molars on the crustacean shell. If you have not tried it before, I would definitely recommend you do so. The feeling and the taste is absolutely divine. No fork and spoon was now required. One shell after another, the gravy dripping over my fingers. It was finger licking good.

The main course had now arrived. The prawn curry was accompanied by Kishmur/rice and Corinnes own Tendli pickle. By the way, she makes her own pickle…her bottled Prawn Balchao is super fantabulous. But that is another story. The Fish Caldin…that recipe has just the right mix. I do not know how many extracts she takes out of the coconut to get the coconut milk or whether her coconuts are the specially spiced ones. (I read in a magazine that they intercrop spices in between coconut plantations somewhere in Ratnagiri, would that change the flavor?) Anyway, Corinne’s Caldin has got that unique and subtle blend of flavors.

The portions are big. ‘Yes, I believe in giving value for money,’ she says. Now well replete we await the dessert. There is a choice of Moira Banana pancake, Coconut soufflé…but it was that piece of chocolate fudge that sent me into raptures. You must have guessed. I am a ‘choco-freak’. But even Joe agreed with me.

Seated in this courtyard under a large mango tree, the paper lanterns bobbing in the breeze, my stomach now replete with those generous helpings, I began to wax poetic much to Joe’s dismay. He was looking forward to a good quiet relaxing night and was in no mood for anything else.

‘Honey,’ I breathed pointing at the suspended moon, ‘it’s so nice and quiet and romantic…’ The look in his eye agreed to the former. ‘Yes’ he agreed, ‘away from the noise and bustle, it’s so serene. Don’t you spoil it.’

‘But may I not sum it up for our readers?’ I wheedled. The Capricorn goat is no match for the Scorpion lady especially with that glint in her eye. He surrendered. And so as we walked out I began singing to myself…
Underneath the Mango tree, yes honey
Its Corinnes…where one can reach for the moon…..
Under this mango tree, it’s value for money
Use your fingers, there’s no need for your fork or spoon.


Anonymous said...

Excellent stuff. Makes my stomach skip a churn.... Cant wait to try it out

Joseph said...

Lovely poem. Truely enjoyed the battle underneath the mango tree... :)