Restaurant Review: The Ongoing Goan Food Festival at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt Mumbai
Good fancies zesty Goan delights, Grand curates a spread of Konkan ecstasy.
We experienced the above at the Goan Food Festival at Grand Hyatt Mumbai. Chef Tanuja Kerker, Casa Sarita – Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa, will leave no stone unturned to feed you the best of Goan flavours. The buffet spread at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, showcases Goan delicacies from the Konkan coast—they have almost all the popular Goan dishes covered in the menu—right from the Xacutis, Vindaloos and Cafreals; to Bibinca, Dodol and Doce! As a part of the flashback at Fifty Five East series, visiting chef Tanuja brings you homestyle Goan dishes with the prominent ingredients like the Chorizo and Goan Vinegar, procured from specific vendors in Goa. Her signature spice blends use handpicked spices from Goa, and hence, recreating the authenticity of Goan cuisine right here in Aamchi Mumbai.
The Goan Food Festival is full of flavour. The festival is on till 28th of February, 2017, at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt Mumbai. We had an opportunity to taste the vibrant Goan spread on the first day of the festival. We loved how the chef used her culinary skills to play with the spices and ingredients: the homely touch and the love was prevalent in her dishes. After the initial conversation, the chef offered to cook some Choriz Pav and insisted that we try this here. Honestly, this was one of the best Goan Chouriço (Chorizo) with Pav bread. Spicy and red pork sausages cooked with onions and redolent of more than 400 years old Portuguese cuisine. The flavours of vinegar, chili, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and other spices created magic and intensity in each bite. The dish is definitely one of the highlights here.
The Pork Chorizo used by Chef Tanuja comes from a special place (vendor) in Goa. Apparently, Goans are very particular of the ingredients and they prefer to buy from a trusted, local source. Goan Chorizo is similar to the Portuguese Chouriço, except the fact that the Goan version is spicy. As these sausages were approved by the chef, we were assured that we were eating one of the best Goan sausages.
We simply loved the Pineapple Sansau with Goan Rice. The Sansau was flavoured with mustard paste, mustard seeds, turneric and grated coconut, this tangy goodness is a vegetarian’s delight and worth a try because of its sweet-n-sour kick.
Long back, when the Portuguese discovered the Pili Pili chillies in Africa, they had no idea that this will give rise to a dish that will be immensely popular in the future. The word “Peri Peri” or “Piri Piri” means “pepper pepper” in Swahili language. Today, Peri Peri sauce and dishes made using this, needs no introduction. The Goan Prawn Peri Peri, for example, is a spicy dish that deserves more respect. At Grand Hyatt, the Prawn Peri Peri was tasty, but toned down quite a bit to suit the Western palate.
When we think about Goan cuisine, seafood is the first thing that comes to the mind. Hence, expect different kinds of seafood at the festival. For instance, try these Mackarel Fry or a host of other Konkani fish fries at the Goan buffet at Grand Hyatt Mumbai. All the fish fries that we tasted, were very fresh and the preparation had simple spices adhering wonderfully to the seafood.
The Rawa-Fried Vegetables were pretty good, too! Coated with poppy seeds, these crispy delights tasted yum with the green chutney.
The Goan Food Festival at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, serves a soulful and homely Dal Varan that is definitely no-frills, but will remind you of your “Maa ke Haath ka Khaana”. We loved the simplicity.
I am biased about Goan Fish Curries as I love the colour and the tang. This fish curry was tasty and satisfactory, though not the best Goan fish curry that I tasted so far.
The enticing Chicken Cafreal made us happy with its authentic Goan flavour. Juicy chicken pieces smeared in a heavenly Cafreal green masala was enough to end the meal with. We could have eaten just this with some rice.
One of the best dishes was this Mutton Vindaloo. The meat was tender and rested in a perfectly spiced, tangy gravy that couldn’t get any better. The heat in all the dishes served at the festival is toned down, however, keeping the preferences of the international diners in mind. Yet, each dish was oozing with Goan flavours seasoned with love.
Then we had the most awaited part of the meal: the desserts. We started with the “Queen of Goan desserts”. This seven-layered traditional Goan dessert called Bebinka, Bebik or Bibinca is my all-time favourite. Signing off for tonight by biting into one of these divine wedges as the sweet ending to the Goan food experience at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt Mumbai.
We tasted the Mangane, which is a type of Goan Kheer. Goans make this during important Hindu festivals, and it is made by boiling tapioca pearls (Sabudana) and Bengal gram (Chana dal) in jaggery-sweetened coconut milk. I liked Mangane: it was warm and inviting!
We even tasted Dodol, another Goan dessert (pudding) traditionally made during Christmas. Made by constantly stirring coconut milk and coconut jaggery, along with some dry fruits. All the Goan desserts served at the Goan Food festival were of the best quality and tasted exactly like the sweets available in Goa.
They do have Doce in the desserts as well. This is a Christmas fudge made with Bengal gram or Chana dal, coconut, sugar and coconut milk.
Overall, the Grand Goan feast at Fifty Five East, Grand Hyatt Mumbai, is definitely worth tasting. Chef Tanuja Kerkar is extremely competent when it comes to Goan dishes. The only thing that we missed was the absence of traditional Goan drinks. In spite of that, I would recommend you all to check out the Goan Food Festival at their multi-cuisine buffet restaurant Fifty Five East. The meal is priced at INR 1650/- (plus taxes) for lunch and INR 1900/- (plus taxes) for dinner.
For reservations, call up at 022-6676 1149 or visit the Grand Hyatt website.