Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bougainvillae Spray

Do bougainvillae’s bloom in the monsoon? Believe it or not, we found just one on the highway in Verna. Hues of deep magenta and green….at Kesarval Garden Retreat. Now one has heard of this hotel, it needs no introduction. It is rumoured that marriages are made…not in Heaven but at Kesarval. Heavenly ambience, heavenly food…and a life of heaven after that!

And now we were seated cosily enconsed on the plush sofas with Mr Lenin Faleiro the young proprietor who with his creative streak has transformed the restaurant giving it a young and fresh look.

‘So whats cooking…,’ I ask. It had been a long day on the highway, and we were looking forward to some good refreshments. ‘We have a lot of new add-ons to our menu,’ he says, ‘besides Goan food which we are well known for we cater to the Indian palate too.’

Apparently the mushrooming of industries along the Verna belt has added to the vast array of items listed on the card…Goan, Indian, Continental.

‘We are strategically located on the Highway,’ Lenin says, ‘and just 10 minutes away from the airport. Many people drop in for a meal before catching their flight.’

Mr Paswan the Manager smiles his affirmation. Now that is a good idea. With many flights leaving in the afternoon, and airlines cutting down on refreshments, instead of a hurried meal at home before departure, a leisurely drive to the hotel would pay dividends.

‘We have also started a Kebab section,’ Paswan states. ‘This is done with the idea of people dropping in after a hard days work with a leisurely drink at the bar with a kebab as a snack.’

‘So what do you have?’ I ask. Before I could say another word, the deep green hue of the tablecloth was covered with a series of platters. Skewers of kebabs punched into cabbage shells, a red tandoori pomfret lay on its side, the creamy white gravy of the koftas, the rich green of the Chicken cafreal, the rich orange hues of the Goa prawn curry, the deep red of a Pork vindaloo, the dark brown of the Dal Makhani held in a copper balti….so many hues. Do the bougainvillae plants also boast of so many?

They say that the salivary glands are first titillated with the visual aspect of the food. Well mine was certainly so. Casting a covert glance at Joe, I realized that he resembled our Labrador pup Mojo at home as he eyes a juicy bone waiting for his instruction to start.

Luckily we needed no such instructions. Let me talk about the kebabs….the Banajara, the pahadi, the malai, the tandoori. Well they are not only names. If I talk about the pahadi kebab…well one could climb mountains as the very name suggests. All meats were soft and succulent; the spices had penetrated the meat in the right proportion. And the dal ? The taste was awesome…Joe even suggested we take a packing order home.

Do I need to talk about the Goan food? I am sure that we have all feasted on the same for many wedding receptions. Whoever takes the masala has got the ingredients right. The prawn curry with its delicate morsels of prawn floating on top, the pork vindaloo with its tangy spice…can titillate those salivary glands. When Joe was addressing himself to those delicacies, his eyes did not leave the dexterous motion of his fork and knife. Silence and serene bliss.

Now if you happen to drive down from Margao to Panaji or vice versa, and decide to halt there for a meal, there is a rose to greet you too. Now don’t look for a flower. Rose the smiling Front office in charge will be there to assist you…and even in the monsoons the hues that this Bougainvillae restaurant can exhibit will be a delight to your senses.

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