A Twist to the Tale

The mango has arrived. The trees are laden with every possible variety. Yes we Goan’s are proud of this fruit, even stating that there are One hundred and six varieties that existed or still exist in Goa.

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Did the Portuguese bring in the fruit to our shores? Yes we are aware that there was one named after Afonso de Albuqerque who helped establish the Portuguese colonies in Goa. But then there are the Colaço, Malcorada, Oliveira and even a Xavier to name a few…there is a definite twist to this tale.

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Where does this story begin? This is one version. Apparently this fruit was native to India way before the Portuguese arrived. There is mention of the same way back during the vedic period. So here is the story of the Portuguese and the mango. A clever friar proficient in the method of grafting created the different varieties. And as the Portuguese travelled back and forth between their colonies they took the saplings with them. Now there is definite evidence that it reached Brazil. In fact it was that perfect fruit which was eventually called the Alfonso..or the Alphonso as it is known today.

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Did that mango flourish in the East? No recorded evidence, although the Portuguese did have their colonies there. Today however inspired preparations bring the mango to the fore. Alwyn Mascarenhas proprietor of the Wok and Roll an oriental restaurant brings out the Mango Som Tom …an adaptation of the famous papaya salad. ‘I never did like papaya,’ he confesses sheepishly, ‘and so here is the preparation in its’ new avatar.’ Well one might not get to taste this preparation throughout the year. The firm mango strips need to get the fruit off the tree.

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But remember in Goa it’s always the spirits that take center stage so you will not be disappointed. Throughout the year sip on the frozen mango mixes. They look good enough to ‘spin’ you through your holiday.

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A gentle belch of contentment,,,then wok…twist…and Roll….you can even get one ‘mango mania hangover’ named after you.

 

 

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In print…a Master Chef at work

She was a finalist at the Masterchef Australia…and now Sarah Todd has made her base in Goa. At Antares.  But her passion for food does not stop here. Let’s take a peek into what she is about in this beautiful earthy paradise.

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The restaurant…Antares! Split down three levels, right down to the seaside, the menu is all about the natural use of ingredients. She has fashioned many of the preparations by studying the local preparations and unifying the ingredients to create ‘inspired’ preparations of her own.  Take the case of her Ponzu slow cooked lamb croquettes. One is aware that meat croquettes are a hot favorite of the ‘locals’, it’s a Portuguese legacy which has been enhanced over the years. Goans stand in a line every morning outside eateries to have them as elevenses, just before lunch. It is also a popular favorite to nibble on as a snack with their drink. These minced spiced preparations have a flavor to entice the palate.  But Sarah perhaps inspired by this preparation has created a different styled croquette from her very own repertoire. Australian style….its pulled lamb, slow cooked over eight hours which forms the filling of this preparation. The puree as garnish and accompaniment adds to its interesting ‘avatar’

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The mixes…. Uniquely crafted and spirited. Definitely not the ‘run of the mill’ classics. Linger around come noon to beat the heat, try out their Sunday brunches. This Strawberry basil Margarita definitely packs a punch especially when accompanied by Crystal’s soul stirring music. End that meal with a Captain Expresso. It’s expresso coffee, Kalhua and Captain Morgan at the helm…a sure shot ‘express’ way to lighten those spirits.

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The Book….Sarah’s very first print. Simplicity personified. It’s all about nature. Guess it’s proper to say that and ask her, ‘how does your garden grow.’ Right in her restaurant she has ‘nature’s bouquet’, a start up of her own small garden. She is natures ‘natural’ I guess.

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Talking about printing….this art entered India through Goa  It was a letter to St. Ignatius of Loyola, dated 30 April 1556, Father Gasper Caleza speaks of a ship carrying a printing press setting sail for Abyssinia from Portugal. It was to help the missionaries stationed there. However there were circumstances that prevented this printing press from leaving India. So the operations  began in Goa in that very year with the first printing press being established at the Jesuit Saint Paul’s college in Old Goa.

And while Raymond Chandler says that ‘the flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring’, there are many things to savor at Antares

 

Folktales: Punjab with Punjab Grills

Ever heard about the tale of a very hungry Ant who loves to eat and swallows a pot full of Saag and many roti’s, but is still very hungry? Well that is my story, besides being a folktale from Punjab. Here in the sarson fields collecting ingredients for the meal…well, the basket helped too.

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The moral of the story…Being greedy is not good, but it’s good to be a little greedy at times.

But when one gets on to the road trip of the Punjab Grills fame, one does not have much to worry about…..its food…food….and good food…even dhaba styled..that butter, the lassi and the paranthas.

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Not always indoors, despite the cold. So here we were on one of the days like the Chidhi, a sparrow in Punjab who wanted to grow a wheat field for herself…a kitchen garden of sorts….we had our own.

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We did have the field to ourselves to picnic and feast on prepared goodies….by Punjab Grills of course.

It is said that Punjabi folklore is the body of expressive culture….the haveli’s and forts….something to remember

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And which includes tales, music, dance and customs. So here we were with our woolen shawls, the backdrop rich and resplendent and the customs…of course besides the food of Punjab Grills.

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Here is our story.

Pairi mojhe paunda haan, (On my feet  I will wear socks),                                                                   thumak thumak aunda han, (Swaying I will come)                                                                                 tu chal mai aya.  (You go and I will follow!)

That was the first interaction in the bus….captured for posterity.

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Did we learn to let down our hair? Yes we did…to the drum beats and the song.

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And unlike the Childi (sparrow) and the Kaa (crow) we bonded well together over the superb spread.

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There has never been a road trip so well organized …like the folktale, it was the culture, traditions and of course the food. Sānū mila kē ika bahuta vaḍā vāra sī