Beaches and good food and fun — things Goa is synonymous with for most of us. While the beaches can’t be transported, Hyatt Regency Pune has tried to bring the Goan food to you — in its original flavour and look. The Taste of Goa food festival in Pune, currently on at the hotel’s The Cafe restaurant, features signature dishes crafted by chef Vithal Naik from Grand Hyatt Goa.
With over 20 years of experience and an impeccable ability of cooking Goan fare, he brings to your table a whole lot of flavours right from his heart. He intends to showcase the best of Goan home cooking to Pune. A simple and cheerful man, Naik introduces every dish to us in a detailed and passionate way.
He begins by bringing to your table a mocktail, made with coconut water, lime-ginger and lemon juice. There begins your tour of Goa. What follows is a street food/ snack famous in Goa, Ros Omelette (Ros means gravy in Konkani). It’s an egg omelette that is served with bread and a spicy gravy of chicken poured over the omelette. The bread served with this dish is worth mentioning. Soft inside, it was slightly crispy on the outside, and had a taste of its own, melting in the mouth and leaving a buttery taste.
The other starters that came our way were Prawn Rissois, Chicken Cafreal, Prawn Balchao, Bangda (Mackerel) Recheado and Peri Peri Crabs. These crabs were tender and stuffed with a tangy-spicy gravy, cooked to perfection. Prawn Balchao too had an authentic Goan taste, which is rare to find today. “I have learnt most of my cooking from my grandmother. That’s where the authenticity comes from,” explains Naik adding, “She was an amazing cook. I often watched her prepare all these dishes, and absolutely follow her technique most times. I do not believe in random customisations when I promise to serve traditional Goan food,” he adds.
The Karwari Mushroom, Veg Kaldin and Ambadyache Sansav served as starters too reflect Goa. But what takes the cake undoubtedly here are the breads. The Bread Poi and Katre Pao, again traditional Goan varieties, can be had by themselves, without any accompaniment, thanks to their flavours.
The Goan Pomfret Curry in the main course had a perfect homecooked feel to it without any fancy additions and oil that is otherwise a mainstay of restaurant food. While most of the ingredients are locally sourced, the spices are all personally prepared by Naik.
After all that tasty main course, we were treated to a variety of desserts — the famous Bebinca, Dodol, Coconut Barfi and more. Another addition to the conclusion of the meal was a fusion food — the Kokam Sherbet turned into a kulfi-like ice lolly. Served with dry ice, the cold dessert was a surprise treat. The Dodol and Bebinca too tasted like they were brought right from the kitchens of a Goan home.
Even the arrangement of the buffet was beautifully synchronised with a Goan feel — with coconut leaves and a fish market-like look. The Cafe, hosting the festival, has been aptly designed with a huge beach picture that instantly transports you to the land of beaches, food and fun.
ST READER SERVICE
The Taste of Goa food festival is underway at Hyatt Regency, Viman Nagar, till August 17 from 12 noon to 3 pm (lunch) and 7 to 11 pm (dinner)