Imagine eating spicy shrimp chilli fry rolled in Bombay duck and crumb fried. Soft flaky fish, spiced up with the flavor of shrimp and crunchy with every bite. You could be pardoned if you kept looking towards the door leading to the kitchen, hopeful with the entry of each service staff an eager thought in your mind…’more is coming?’
Well this preparation is a hot favorite in the by lanes of Lower Parel in Mumbai…next to Phoenix Mills…Jai Hind!. No I am not saluting at a public ceremony..it is the name of the place serving fabulous Konkan preparations.
Now back in Goa with a fresh year looming around the horizon I wonder if any of those ‘exciting’ concepts could create the same ‘gastronomic’ euphoria for me.
‘The Fort Aguada has a ‘new’ concept..’Joe casually remarks…’up market beach shack by day…fine dining by night.’ So we decided to ‘check’ out the place. Rahul Tarneja the Food & Beverage Manager and Executive Chef were there to meet us in the restaurant. Perched high up on the fort..the restaurant had a scenic view of sand and sea…..miles and miles of it…..MORISCO…
‘Well we hoped to create an exclusive ‘shack’ with an open air view,’ states Rahul as I lifted up my head to ‘sniff’ at the salty sea breeze…a great feeling. Now Morisco….stands for ‘seafood’ in Portuguese and looking at the vast array of specialties listed there I could well imagine why…. But let us look at the lunch menu….remember a ‘shack’ by day.
Morisco Susegado! Aha! It spells it out for you. ‘An old age traditional leisurely afternoon…food being cooked from the live kitchen on a slow fire. So what’s cooking? Chicken Supreme Satay with peanut butter, beer battered prawns with BBQ dip, chicken olive sticks with garlic dip, cottage cheese steaks, Arabian lobster, Moroccan spiced chicken, Tenderloin Schnitzel….there is a long list of preparations available on order.
Lets talk about the Arabian Lobster…the spicy morsels tempt your palate..you might feel that like Lawrence of Arabia your galloping steed is creating rivulets of sweat to fall down your brow….well yours truly…was truly in that frame of mind…the spices add ‘zing’ and create a ‘speedy’ sensation of wanting to devour more. But hold your horses…this is just one preparation…let’s talk about the cottage cheese steaks. Vegetarians…a pure delight…and the Vegetable fottas-an indianized version of the ‘spring roll’…..even in this enticing array of seafood ‘delights’ chef has something just for you.
Well we are still in the ‘Susegado’ frame of mind..so where do the ‘chicks’ come in? Try the Moroccan spiced chicken…the flavor of aniseed, black pepper, cumin on the pan seared chicken…rocko…rocko…rocking feeling. Am I still in the Lawrence of Arabia frame of mind? Perhaps in that region..so we shift gears…we move East…the Chicken Supreme satay…yeah it reigns ‘supreme’ while further down South the New Zealand Lamb chops…take your pick.
By now the evening breeze drifts upon our over heated senses…nothing to do with the temperature of the place…with a belly full of preparations one’s temperature would move up a notch or two. And since we were at one end of Goa…yes the ‘seafaring’ Portuguese used to fill up their ships with water from this very place, we decided that a walk around before dinner was a must.
A transformation as the sun sets and twilight blackens the endless shore. The lights and warmth of the restaurant cannot be denied. A spanking new menu that states…the availability of nearly every available ‘sea-delight.’ Seabass, snapper, pomfret, salmon, prawns, crabs, lobster, shellfish, scallops, squid…you name it…they got it. And have categorized it too. Cast off: with prawn tempura; or for a Tempting Twist-the seafood platter ( a good assortment of seafood delights to savor); Flavor of the Sea: Pan seared Basa with Haldi; Uniquely Goan…Chef Urbano Rego has left his trademark touch here too; and for the Portuguese Connection? The coconut and mango twist or Chef John’s Homestyle Pomfret (the pomfret is marinated in a Raechado mix).
Treasures of the sea indeed…and every Goan’s delight. One would wish for ‘more’ and ‘more’. And with a name like Mor..is…co…you will feel tempted to ask ‘More is coming?’ and as the New Year brings in ‘More’ than one desires….there is always that little place perched high above the ocean with a dual personality…a shack by day and a fine dining by night…but with one goal in common…with reference to the food. It will have its guests asking for more.
Would Goa be able to match this innovativeness I wondered as we moved towards the ‘Happening’ coastal belt to ‘try out’ the new concept at the Fort Aguada…an up -market beach shack called Morisco.