‘Time for celebration,’ Joe chortles looking forward to pampering his taste buds after a stringent 40 days of ‘off meat.’ So come lunchtime we were on our way to find a ‘pampering hole.’ Little did my ‘better half’ realise that most ‘up market’ restaurants were open for only dinner. ‘Lets try Resort Rio,’ I state, ‘we have not been there awhile.’
‘Elephants are vegetarian? Aren’t they?,’ I ask sweetly looking at the mammoth standing at the entrance. ‘So what has that got to do with our celebration today’ he asks. ‘Because dear sweetheart,’ I quip, ‘we are visiting Jalsa their vegetarian restaurant which means celebration.’ The look on my ‘staunch’ non vegetarian hubby’s face was priceless. But luckily the appearance of GM Terrance Nunes and Sunil Mattai stopped any further comment.
We decided to go to the ‘Pickled Mango’ the coffee shop for a pre lunch drink.
‘Try their Aphrodite’s kiss,’ I cajole hoping to get him into a better frame of mind. The dark rum, fresh fruits blended with orange juice and fresh lime sounded inviting. But no takers! ‘Let’s not cause Ripples…’ I say punning on another drink mentioned on the menu. Cashew feni with white rum, fresh lime and sugar syrup would definitely ‘perk’ him up. But a Mohito was his ‘spirit’ for the day.
We were joined by the owners Anoop Shah and his wife, who had put this wonderful edifice together. Elephants snorted out fountains of water in the pool where holiday makers were busy ‘beating’ the heat. ‘Our vegetarian restaurant, Jalsa is one where there is minimal oil used,’ says Mr Shah. I perk up at the thought.
So after the drink we go to this delightful ‘Indian’ restaurant that serves a Thali…and a different one for lunch and dinner and every day of the week. ‘It has its own separate kitchen,’ explains Sunil, ‘and if required, we cater ‘no onion…no garlic’ food too.’ So what was on the menu today? This restaurant boasts of a variety of Kerala, Gujarati and North Indian vegetarian specialities. Today, he had focused on a combination of Rajasthani, Gujarathi and North Indian preparations.
The starter arrived. Dal Bhati. Now this is a unique ‘aam admi’ preparation of Rajasthan is a meal by itself. A wheat katchori with ajwain broken into a bowl of dal. It was different…something down to earth and homely. And looking at the variety being offered, I decided to peck on the preparation. ‘Our food is unlimited,’ says Sunil. The Thalis were placed in front of us….with the Chaas. As we waited for the piping hot food to emerge from the kitchen, I realised that there were not many ‘pure vegetarian’ restaurants along this belt.
And then the bombardment started. I use the term bombardment because I realise that there is a limit to ones capacity to eat. Surti puffs…they resemble a spring roll and stuffed with green peas….i moved over to the accompaniment tray and took a liberal helping of green and tamarind chutney….delicious. I took another. The Bhindi Masala…no oil to be seen. Firm to the bite. The Paneer Makhanwala….with the phulkas …soft melting moments. Both the panneer and the phulka. Then from Gujarat…the white mutter, aloo tamatar khatta, Gujarathi dal, Gujarathi kadi (Yuummm). And then the crowning glory…Aam ras with hot crispy poories. Well there was steamed rice and vegetable pulao to eat too.
Fruit custard and ice cream was the dessert of the day. The restaurant had filled up by the time we were on the dessert. Indians love to eat late. And I had no idea that Goa attracted so many vegetarians on the ‘tourist’ belt.
Joe for once looked happy. He confessed that he had eaten four phulkas, besides the poories for the lunch. But celebrations were not yet over. As we left the restaurant I happened to glance into the ‘pastry shop’. Chocolate Toblerone was displayed. No saying no to the offer of this mousse. Chef Kapil Kumar had a rich mouth watering temptation in store. I begged for the recipe so that you would know what I mean. After all it was ‘Celebration Time’. Wasn’t it?
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