It’s festival time at the Baluchi – The LaliT Mumbai’s signature restaurant – which is hosting the Goan Food Festival from the 21st to the 30th of July. It is rightly branded as Susegado Mumbai, ‘Susegad’ meaning a relaxed attitude and enjoyment of life to the fullest. Not just the Goan food, but the culture of Goa has susegad written all over it, and this is what Chef Tanmoy Majumdar has brought to Mumbai from The LaliT Goa’s kitchens for the pleasure of Mumbaikars.
These quarterly festivals and the Executive Chef pop-ups are the brainchild of the executive director of the LaliT Group, Keshav Suri, to cross-promote their executive chefs and cuisines across their 12 properties in India. Executive Chefs from The LaLiT properties across India are travelling to different regions to give guests a sample of authentic cuisines from their respective region. A potpourri of flavours and spices, Goan cuisine prominently features delicious curries and an endless array of seafood. The use of coconut and kokum is distinct to Goan food, which has been influenced by many cultures (including the Portuguese) over the centuries. Since Goa has a tropical climate, the flavours and spices are intense.
We were welcomed at the door of Baluchi with a warm namaskar and a garland made of seashells, a typical Goan accessory. Our table was decorated with coconuts and the ceiling had fishing nets and bright lights to create the aura of a Goan beach party under a starry sky. Goan melodies played in the background to keep the ambience lively and vivacious.
Adding more warmth and hospitality to our welcome was the welcome drink, Kokum sharbat, which Chef Sacramento (from Chef Majumdar’s team) told us was to cool the system before starting on our deep and intense gastronomical journey. In the prelude to the starters, we were also served cashew bread sticks with Kokum chutney and Caldo Verde (a very appetising potato and spinach soup).
Being a vegetarian, I opted for the vegetarian dishes on the menu, which included mouthwatering starters like Vegetable & Cheese Rissois and Potato, Cashewnut & Cheese Fofos de quejos. The non-vegetarians at our table enjoyed the lunch with staples like prawns and fish – they had Shrimp Rissois, a popular snack in Goa, and Fofos de Peixe, which are spiced king fish dumplings, rolled in semolina rawa and deep fried. They very visibly enjoyed their starters and I gorged on my vegetarian fare.
In the vegetarian main course, I had the absolutely finger-licking Vegetable Caldin – the mildly-spiced, yellow colour curry infused with coconut milk and vegetables, Mushroom Cafreal – mushrooms marinated in a paste of coriander and chillies, parboiled brown rice, and Dal Varan – a lentil preparation. Meanwhile, my non-vegetarian friends immensely enjoyed their mutton vindaloo, chicken Xacuti and prawn curry.
After this deeply gratifying and flavorful lunch, the icing on the cake (or the dessert) came in the form of Bebinca (a famous Goan dessert), Dodol (a popular Goan dessert which is a cross between fudge and pudding) and Allabelle (coconut-filled pancakes that were specially curated and made by Chef Majumdar for the ensemble gathering of media, bloggers, food tasters and the like).
Hats off to Chef Majumdar and the LaliT Group for bringing the taste and flavours of Goa to Mumbaikars. The Goan food festival is on until the 30 July. Do go check it out – and be ready to be transported to shacks of Goa with a great huge spread of lip-smacking dishes!