Saturday, April 27, 2013

Its one year year in April 2013

The Goan Culinary Club celebrates its’ first birthday at O Coqueiro…the very place where the meets were initiated. And while the first year was spent in creating awareness amongst ‘people’ both here and abroad, the twenty five members sat down to deliberate its new course of action for the year.

Mr Sanjith Rodrigues (MD, GSIDC) sat down to interact with the members and share his thoughts on all things grown locally. ‘the poor farmer’s sit on the roadside to sell their wares as there are very few takers’, ‘there is surplus musk melon grown which has no buyers and inadvertently land in the garbage’, ‘we prefer to buy vegetables brought in from outside Goa rather than purchase within.’

Mr. Darryl Pereira – CEO Reira Eco Ventures, an enterprising entrepreneur echoed  the message from Mr Sanjith Rodrigues …as he explained the pressures faced in setting up the projects and the need for more interactive communication from the chefs. 

With immediate effect a core team has been initiated to record the data of ‘Goan’ produce perhaps needed by the kitchens for our cuisine.Odette and Joe Mascarenhas co founders, heralded this project assisted by Ms Sunita Rodrigues (project co ordinator), Mr Victor Soares (GM Royal orchid Hotel) and Mr Sunil Kumar (Executive Chef Goa Marriott Resort and Spa) who will compile the data base from the members of the Club.

The meeting was hosted by O Coqueiro, with Chef Peter Fernandes researching tea time preparations of the good old days of yore…Filhos, Manos, Atoll, Alla Belle, Sheviyo with jaggery, and Kongyeo with gur.(jaggery)

Co founders Rene and Maria Baretto and Joe Mascarenhas and Odette Mascarenhas with Sanjith Roadrigues distributed certificates of a year’s completion to the members.

Some of the teatime snacks of the past 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Red or green...perhaps a yellow in between

   In Goa we might not have seen them at every street junction – but it is a common sight in every metropolitan city…the traffic lights. But the Goan Culinary Club is not here to talk about traffic control systems but the color of our food preparations. Unlike Continental (white sauce, stews) or even Eastern Asian food (stir fries) our curries do not have the pale insignificant hues…they are rich red (or shades of red), greens and yellow (Caldinha).

So how do these color variants take place…especially in the shades of red (orange to even a brownish yellow)-it’s the chilies used chorus the chef’s of the Club. The Portuguese might have brought in the chilies (or peppers as they called it), but the acceptance of the villagers to make the chili their own (Aldona, Canacona to name a few) defines the rich cultural diversity of our ancestors ‘talukawise’ in the days of yore.

We ask our chef’s what chilies are normally used in their curries…and the normal response is ‘Kashmiri’. Why does one ask? ‘O they impart a rich red color to the gravy’. But is color the only criteria for Goan curries and masalas? What about the authenticity of taste? They say that their recipes are from their mothers or great grandmothers whatever the case may be….so was the kashmiri chili the only one used in their homes?

So coming back to our ancestors….Where did they get those chilies from? The cultivation of the same must have taken place in the right way to ensure that the chilies got a chance to be sun dried and then stored before the monsoons. The Club took a trip to different talukas ‘see’ if chilies (besides the all almighty kashmiri’) had a presence in homes. Yes they did in small pockets. You would find button chilies, bedagi chilies, gaunti chilies, cancon chilies, tarvati chili, titimiti chili and in some Maharashtra border talukas the sankeshwari chili) I remember my grandmother talking about the titimiti chili. ‘In a curry one uses 70 % bedagi and 30 % Titimiti’…I remember her telling the person who used to grind the masala. So I asked the chef’s if they had seen it. ‘It’s a vegetable,’ one says. We are still searching to find this chili if it is still being used.

And there is the ‘piripiri chili. One of the chef’s shows me a bottle of these chilies that he imports from Africa. I am given to understand that these chilies are also known as ‘Portugal chilies’ and they used to grow in ‘everyone’s” especially the Christian Goan houses-backyard. It is a sad state of affairs that today these chilies are slowly vanishing from the face of Goa….and the kashmiri variety is here to stay.

Are our signal lights flashing...Red…yellow…where is the green. Cultivation takes place if there is a demand and vice a versa. The Club asks all its chef’s to take a little time off to rework on the authenticity of their grandmothers preparations…. and ask for the chili. Even if it means cultivating them in their very own backyard. Michelin chefs have their own herb garden…. what is stopping us. Let the chili take the ‘pride of place’ in that curry and have people drooling for that spicy treat.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Inspiration is not 100 % perspiration

Do we need to re think our concept about Goan food? We hear mothers complain about the fact that the younger generation are not ‘with it” when it comes to the heavy curries. They like ‘fast food’ moans one mother…the burgers, the pizzas, the pastas. 

So what stops us from working on the same? Enter the ‘Goan inspired food’ concept. Right now a few star hotels are working on this trend, but we are happy to note that a few standalone restaurants run by ‘local’ youth are now making headway with this.

Co founders Odette and Joe Mascarenhas met with one such entrepreneur Shawn D’Souza  of ‘Kudo’s’ fame. With one of the objectives of the Goan Culinary Club being to work on ‘mindsets’ of people to accept a cuisine which perhaps would be a little bit of everything… shades of Mambo No 5, we were pleased to see preparations on the menu that symbolize the creativity on the part of this young entrepreneur.

So you do not like to have a heavy portion of prawn balchao with poie. Try it out on small slices of baguette toasted and topped with a cream cheese and sliced olives. Comprendre? Or perhaps you like to have pasta…say Ravioli. Why have it stuffed with spinach or a continental mix when you can have it stuffed with our very own Goan Chorizo or a pizza? Move over pepperoni, the squid with our very own Goan spice…the reichade masala…does one need Oregano and chili flakes with this topping? No more Mama mia!  Saiba ye maje mog! You will exclaim.

Are these preparations finding a niche with the palates of the locals? Says Shaun ‘before we work on a certain dish to be put on the menu we give our regulars a complimentary tasting of the new ‘inspired Goan’ preparation. If it gets good feedback we add it on. We have built on this repertoire of dishes like this.’ Kudos to you boys….that’s the way to go.

So if you have some extra prawn balchao lying in the fridge somewhere, and wondering what to do for a snack, use Shaun’s Goan inspired Bruschettas. Pure inspiration  and for you, a very little perspiration. It is sure to be a hit with your kids and at parties too. Go traditional in a very untraditional way. In our own small way we are changing with the times. 

Shaun of ‘Kudo’s restaurant shares his ‘Goan inspired’ recipe with us.

Prawn Balchao Bruschetta
French baguette        1 no
Mozzarella cheese
Extra virgin olive oil     for drizzling
black olives                one number for each slice
 prawn balchao           as required.

Step 1 Cut the baguette in slices and spread the prawn balchao evenly. Add on chopped black olives and top up with mozzarella cheese
Step 2: Pre heats the oven to 300degree F and places the slices on a baking tray and place it in the oven for about 2 min just enough to melt the cheese.
Step 3: Remove and splash olive oil and serve hot!!