Friday, June 22, 2012

food trail : crusty the crab !

On a visit to Calcutta, my Goan friends got quizzed about their homeland.
Are you Goanese ?
 Auntyji, people who live in Goa are called Goans not goanese.
Oh ok, so what like, do you speak- Goanese?
Nope there is nothing called goanese, the official language is Konkani.
So what is Goanese?
I’d like to believe Goanese is a way of life. A life which is not only restricted to those who live in Goa but all the thousands who flock to Goa every year.
The morning walk by the sea, the partying through the night, the lazy Sunday and the afternoon siestas … Goa is popular for the sand and sea and liquor, but few would know it for the mindboggling variety of food available here.
Being Goanese – that is what my series of foodie trails through Goa is going to be called.
This foodie trail is a zig zag path across Goa in search of our favourite crustaceans.
No place else have I seen crabs and prawns and lobsters all come together in delightful and unique flavours.
butter garlic crab
One of my all time favourite is Butter garlic prawns. Butter in itself is a magic ingredient, add to that the sharp twist of garlic lightly fried in butter, and it is capable of making anyone swoon. Most of the chefs across the world know of this winning combination and they reel in the customers with butter garlic bread at the local Italian pizza joint, or butter garlic naan at the tandoori joint.
butter garlic naan

Butter garlic naan goes surprisingly well with the local favourite – the recheado. The recheado masala is a fiery red coloured paste, and the red is all red chillies and no food colouring mind you. It definitely is not for the faint hearted or the weak bellied. But oh the taste! It instantly puts your taste buds on fire and the red chillies soaked in vinegar light up the whole trail from your tongue , your palate, to the back of your mouth and down the oesophagus. It makes you reach for the nearest bottle of chilled bear, or the mild butter garlic bread/naan or buttered rice to put out the fire. After the first bite wears of you can’t wait to have another go at the recheado prawns. It’s that addictive! 
infantaria's recheado prawns

 Recheado masala is available at most super markets in Goa, so be sure to stock up on them to liven up any protein you have at home. Recheado and baked potatoes, or okra also make for nice vegetarian side dishes.

martin's corner and their exceptional spread

Most eateries in Goa specializing in sea food, take pride in their fresh produce, and you can see the sea food displayed at the entrance. They will get the live crabs and lobsters to the table for your inspection. 
How you want them to prepare it is where the fun begins. Batter fried, rawa fried, recheado masala, vindaloo curry.. we are spoilt for choice. 

sharada lunch home's rawa fried prawns
crab vindaloo
chilly and spice's crab in goan masala

Goa has a unique mix of portugese cuisine(partial to vinegar) and the local Indian flavouring (partial to coconut ) apart from that they cater to the wide culinary tastes of the tourists itself. Thus you have the European or the north-Indian twist to your seafood too. The lobster thermidor is one such highly recommended dish.

infantaria's butter garlic prawns

If you thought that was the end of the journey, you are in for a pleasant surprise. Goa has for you – stuffed crabs ( crab shell stuffed with pinced crab and prawn meat) , crab claws ( the sweet crab meat made into little dumplings and wrapped around the claw of a crab and deep fried) , devil prawns (shrimps wrapped in bacon with cocktail tooth picks for bite sized portions), jade sea food soup ( green coloured soup with an ocean full of delightful crustaceans).

fisherman's wharf's crab claws
Goa has much to offer, and I hope to take you on foodie trails of its many wonders. 

Some of my favourite places of crustaceans ( crab, prawns, shrimps, lobsters) in Goa are

North Goa: Souza Lobo and Infantaria

Panjim : Ritz classic

South Goa : Martins Corner and Fisherman’s wharf.

Bon Appetit.
 special thanks to Ekalavya Bhattacharya for some of the lip smacking pictures!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Food trail: Munnar

There is nothing more appetizing than the fresh mountain breeze spiced with the smell of cardamom and cinnamon. Just driving through the winding roads past tea plantations and spice gardens of Munnar and Thekkady is a foodies delight.I bring to you the flavours of kerala, the authentic and the quirky, the adventurous to the everyday foodie delights.
We drove around in search for the appam and chicken curry, because every foodie traveller worth his black peppers knows that no journey to Kerala is ever complete without a taste of appam.
 In our quest for appams though we encountered the very enterprising road side maggi vendor who made a mean sambar verion of maggi complete with curry leaves, carrots and beans.It was a wonder there weren't drumsticks in it.Maggi truly is our national dish.
Roadside Maggi
Our journey had just begun, as we were to experience more of this culinary ride. Next stop was quail eggs. None of us had actually tasted quail eggs before and the lure of the unknown was too much to bear so we gave into the temptation. the eggs looked exotic.Tiny eggs resembling marbles in size, they even had splattered patterns on them like marbles. We asked the road side stall owner to whip up some eggs for us and what we got were four tiny sunny side ups on a paper plate! They didn't taste as exotic as they had in their shells, but as they say dont judge an egg by it's shell.Quail eggs by the way are a delicacy in some countries according to wikipedia, and it ranks on another food blog's top 7 street foods around the world.
quail eggs, tiny marble sized

four fried eggs on a plate!
parboiled rice
All the appetizers (maggi and eggs) by then had got us even more hungry and we went in search for a lunch place. Lunch found us. As we drove around Munnar, a tiny lunch home literally stopped us in our tracks with it's mouth watering smell of sea food. We were slaves to our olfactory system once more as we ordered plates of prawns and fish to go with our rice and sambar. Rice, we were informed were either the white rice or the par boiled rice. Never to shy away from an adventure we opted for the exotic once more.Par boiling consists of soaking, briefly pressure steaming and drying rice prior to milling. Parboiling drives beneficial nutrients from the bran into the grain.It is close to brown rice in nutritional value, but  par boiled rice is easier to digest.
chutney,pickles, and papad

prawns with coconut and curry leaves
As night fall arrived, we got restless on once more. The prawns in curry leaves,brown onions and fried pieces coconut had been delicious but we craved for appams. The soft bowl shaped pancackes of fermented rice, which soak up the curry like a sponge, add a whole new dimension to having chicken curry or checken stew. The appam though it seemed was too lowly a dish for the restaurants to serve and we turned yet again to the ever enterprising road side vendors. We found one near the bus stand amongst hired taxis travelling the length and breadth of Kerala. There amongst all the blaring car horns and diesel smell we found our long craved manna. we bought 25 of them, because you can never have enough of money, happiness and appams.
roadside appam stall

Kerala with its verdant greenery, cocnut groves and backwaters has a wealth of culinary delights. from the soft appams, to the spicy prawns, the out of the ordinary qual eggs, to the very authentic par boiled eggs, we had experienced the very best that Munnar and Thekkady the spice capitals of Kerala. Each place has its flavour, be it the red chillies of the north, the kokkam of the west, the Paach phoron of the east. Kerala was all about farm fressh spices. streets sold basket full of cinnamons, cardamoms, star anise, bay leaves, nut meg, black pepper and cloves. Spices which held the promise of lifting any dish from the ordinary to the sublime.Spices which promised to cast a spell. Go on a magical foodie trail through Kerala, and leave mesmerised.
staranise,nutmeg,dried ginger, cinnamon,cloves and pepper