Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Quarterdeck, Panaji – Naans with a View

Watching brightly lit floating casino boats on the Mandovi river, and the beautiful sky above, we didn’t mind the order taking too long. Quarterdeck offers the perfect spot to sit and decide the casino or cruise you want to go. Watching people drive into the passenger ferries with their cars, and hearing music from the evening cruises keeps you occupied.    

I will however, remember Quarterdeck for its Naans – the cheese naan (which had crispy, light brown, cheese), and the Kashmiri Naan – with almonds, cashews and other nuts finely grated and put on top. Ever since I have been ordering Cheese Naans at various restaurants, only to be disappointed every time. Most restaurant’s just stuff the naan with cottage cheese, unlike Quarterdeck which had this awesome crispy layer of cheese on top of the Naan.

The Chicken Xacuti and Cafreal were great too, but we couldn’t have enough of the Naans.

This was one of the only two restaurants in Goa which we visited twice in our month long stay(other being Au Reverie in North Goa), though mainly because its conveniently located by the river side, for all people going for a cruise. 


They have good North Indian food too, we saw a lot of people ordering the Kababs and Chinese food as well. Has a lot of seats so you wouldn’t have to wait - which is a big plus is you have been walking all day in Panaji. Oh, and there was a place to let the kids run loose with toys!

I’d go back there in a flash for the Naans watching the casino’s and the ferries tug along.


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Viva Panjim, Goa – The perfect place for Goan Food


Set in an old Goan home, with its authentic Goan cuisine, and an award winning Chef, Viva Panjim was highly recommended. Lonely Planet, Outlook Traveler, Time Goa Guide and Tripadvisor sang its praises. This was one of the two places to go for Goan cuisine– the other being Longuinhos, which was a let down.

If the weather is good, I highly recommend walking to it from the Church of our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. You get the feel of passing through an old world, beautiful and forgotten. The architecture and people will keep you interested in the 15 minute walk. See the story below to understand how outrageously helpful the people really are!

First, the restaurant. We sat down outside in the street, and experimented with our order. In addition to the Kingfish Curry and Rice, the Rawa Masala Fish, Chicken Stuffed Papad – we ordered Brinjal Chips! Brinjal Chips surprisingly, turned out be absolutely fantastic! The rest of the food was great too – though you might want to request them to make the food extra spicy if that’s how you like it. The foreigners outnumbered the Indians here – which explained the mild spices.

Eating on the street
Eating on the street








We had Bebinca for dessert, which was fantastic and beautiful as always. The chief chef Mrs Linda came outside to talk to us just when I was reading about her.

She said “I am so happy to see Indians coming home as well”, and looked like she meant it. We were the only Indians out of the 30 odd people eating there that afternoon.



Surprisingly, unlike other great restaurants in Goa, this one was very reasonably priced. So I kept a copy of the bill. The meal for two just cost us Rs 475. I hope to go back to Viva Panjim and try their Xacuti, Vindaloo and Sea Food Platter soon.

On our way back, we thought of picking some fruits for our walks. There was a small open shop with beautiful fresh fruits – strawberries, grapes, bananas and more, but empty. We waited for a few minutes and thought of walking away. Just then, there was this lady walking on the other side of the street who came up to us.

She said - “I will call the shopkeeper, you guys select the fruits”.

Perplexed at buying fruits from a shop from a passerby we hesitatingly started selecting fruits.

This lady then started calling out - “Is anybody here?”

A guy who was probably eating his lunch, looking at his hands dripping with rice and curry, came out and asked her what she wanted.

She said - “You have some customers - Is it okay if they buy stuff and leave the money here?”

He said-“Fine” and went back in to finish his lunch. She then said - “Oh I’ll have to disturb him again to ask him the price”. So here’s this guy, who doesn’t care what price his goods are sold, nothing is more important than lunch. And there’s this woman, who would go out of the way to help some tourists, in this heat. That’s Goa for you in a flash – there are people who take a 4 hour afternoon ‘siesta’ and people who would go out of their way to help you.

She then shouted again, asking him the price and then told us to keep 60 rupees in his shop. We did that and left, so did the woman! The guy didn’t bother to come out.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sher-e-Punjab – Panjim, Goa - What a surprise!



As my mouth waters remembering the extremely soft Paneer and Chicken Tikka with just the right amount of spices in every little bite, I marvel at how we were pretty sure about not going there.

Sher-e-Punjab, Panjim was listed as an “Our Pick” by Lonely Planet, Goa which generally put a restaurant to the top of our list. However, it didn’t make much sense eating Punjabi food in Goa. Viva Panjim with its popular Goan cuisine seemed like a better choice.

An Interesting house on Altinho Hill
An Interesting house on Altinho Hill








However, that particular day, as I was enjoying the walk down Altinho Hill, admiring the Portuguese architecture, Rubal was ready to kill and eat me, she was that hungry.  Her look when I stopped to click another picture made me believe her.

Looking forward to the beautiful walks – we had not hired a bike for our two days here. This meant a walk during the middle of the day in the sweltering heat and there weren’t any auto rickshaws or taxis on Altinho hill (at that time of the day).

The walk down Altinho Hill
The walk down Altinho Hill








As we reached to the base of the hill, we finally got a rickshaw, and I took out my list of restaurants and maps. I told the driver to take us to Viva Panjim or Horse Shoe, but he gave us a blank look.

Sensing Rubal’s frustration and worrying about being eaten alive, I asked him desperately – “Do you know any restaurant around here ?”

He said - “Sher-e-Punjab”, and grinned from ear to ear.

Outside Sher-e-Punjab Panjim
Outside Sher-e-Punjab Panjim

How often would you get a chance to recommend a Punjabi restaurant to a Punjabi in Goa ? I think we made his day when we said - Yes, take us there. Rubal finally smiled.

The restaurant was pretty full, which is always a good sign. The service was fast, and the food delicious. Rubal and I agreed that this was definitely the best Paneer Tikka we ever had. The chicken Tikka was great too and the rates very reasonable.

We left and ate Almond Rocher at the nearby Bread n More for desert.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Shararti Bhindi and Dancing Chana Baby!

In the movie French Kiss Meg Ryan says - “everybody loves their mother. Even people who hate their mothers love their mothers.”

This morning Rubal was chuckling reading a message from my Mom - “Shararti Bhindi, Dancing Chana Baby, Murg MatWala, Salad and lots of Love”. A few days back it was “Egg on Toast, Cheesy Chips, Salad, Shaky Mango, waiting” and “Mango Pulp, Watermelon Juice and more. See you at the same place”.

My mom who’s a teacher has her summer holidays, and she likes us to come home for lunch. In addition to admiring her new innovative recipes everyday, we crib about how it is difficult to come home everyday for lunch. So Mom sends these messages every day to make sure we don’t get lazy!

The significance of these messages can be understood by my Mom’s reluctance over the years to type messages on the phone. She has always sent us a small messages like -

  1. “God Bless you”
  2. “I love you”
  3. “I have holiday today.”

The third message being the most common, she sent it early in the mornings inviting us to come home for breakfast on her holidays. Most days the message came in good time as I get up pretty late, and you know how parents get up real early. A few times I noticed how the message came in pretty late – 12.30 AM, 1 AM – which was a shock considering my parents sleep pretty early.

So I asked my mom - “Hey why don’t to message me in the evening, why so late in the night”

She gave me that cheeky smile and said - “Well you see I have the “I have holiday today.” message saved on my phone, and I find it easier to forward it even if its late rather than type a new one!”