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PANDI CURRY ON CHOGM ROAD AND PIT STOPS ON THE POLL ROAD

08 Jan 2017 02:16am IST

Report by
Sujay Gupta

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08 Jan 2017 02:16am IST

Report by
Sujay Gupta

We were on the slow boat to Alleppey, or thought we were, a backwater symphony, sailing through Kerala,

We were on the slow boat to Alleppey, or thought we

were, a backwater symphony, sailing through Kerala,

in the heart of the Chogm road to Porvorim, and getting

to know why Kerala is indeed the abode of the God’s. Kerala’s

cuisine can invoke any members of the divine pantheon for the

extravagance of creativity.

Recent travels over the year end, hunting for and experimenting

with different kinds of

cuisine have unearthed some

amazing hidden gems and

surprisingly quite a few of

them have propped up on

the Chogm road, north of the

Porvorim din, which has fast

turned into restaurant country.

The “Kerala” journey

was undertaken not at a

standalone place from the Malabar coast or the backwaters but

a divine place in its own right, unmistakably ubiquitous, and

done in a minimalistic way on the terrace of the hotel, with menu

cards clipped on old school clipboards and placed in baskets

on a cycle – yes a cycle. MOKI which is a combination of the

names of its partners, Moni and Kiran is the coming together of

a Chef – Prakhyat (aka Moni) and a marketing whiz Kiran who

one hasn’t yet met. Chef Moni served up some very good steak

and continental food in a restaurant he worked for in Colva and

meeting him at the “other end”, at Sangolda, after so many years

was fun.

While there will be time to salivate over MOKI’s continental

outpourings, the X factor at MOKI is not the Goan or the

continental but their South Indian curries, with more of Kerala

than others. And Prakhyat gets you right there in that houseboat

or toddy tavern or the road side dhaba with the ‘meals ready’

signboard. The houseboat special is the mango infused kingfish

or prawns curry from – where else – Alleppey. Closely battling

for attention on the curry cuisine fashion walk is the ‘Chettinad

eral kuzuhambhu (madras prawn curry). But let’s not digress

for there is pork to be had. So the ‘Thattukada style beef’ was

promptly ordered. This comes with black pepper and a strong,

but not overpowering, curry leaf flavour, followed by Coorg style

slow roast pork, or pandi curry, had typically with akki otti (roti)

or kadamputtu (rice balls). But pandi curry becomes pandi curry

only with kachampuli vinegar, which we hope is sourced from a

traditional supplier in Coorg.

There was so much to be had. Buddy Shyam, who spotted

MOKI and did the introductions, has done great service to

humanity (which in this case is taking this humble eater-writer

there). The wish list for the next visit has already been made and

it’ll be a journey from ‘parsi’ to Paris – Dhansak rubbed basa

fillets with chilled humus, and then, tenderloin steak in blue cheese

sauce. While we stayed clear of continental for now, where MOKI

scores, according to reliable reports, as all good steak places do,

is their very minute attention to the sauces and accompaniments

such as the red wine sauce, the black pepper sauce and garlic herb

butter.

At night the charm enhances on this terrace with its view of the

valley, the evening lights and amazing playlist making encores so

very desirable. Bring it on MOKI. Post script: Elections come with

some delightful accompaniments. You end up travelling to parts of

Goa you don’t normally travel to and this is when unexpected food

discoveries happen – in Bicholim, Valpoi, Sanguem, Ponda and as

yours truly heads out to report, politics will not be the only thing

in mind. But there are old faithfuls which will be used to dine and

plan as pit stops on the election travel route.

Sheila Bar and Restaurant at Sancoale at the edge of Sao Jacinto

island will serve the usual, the spicy red chicken, the prawn kismur

and the think prawn curry or for that matter Cajetan’s place in

Bambolim right on the beach where a mean pork solantolem with

sea salt can be had as the political pulse of St Andre is taken.

And finally, the last pick for this column – the Xavier shack

at Sernabatim on pristine white sands to spend a rare languid

afternoon, soaking in the sea and facts newly learnt on the poll

road. And these are the places where the voice of Goa will be and

where the voice of Goa will be heard, with generous helpings of

the kind of food which only we have.
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