This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
A picture perfect moment from the kitchen at Tibchis, with the final product and the raw material that goes into making it, all in one frame
July is that inexplicable time of year when the monsoons are ready to burst; the showers bringing along much merriment in children and an added brilliance to the surroundings. Personally, it’s my favourite time for reading, with piping hot finger food at hand. Left to my own devices one evening, I decided to renew my attempts at finding Tibchis, a place which, much like quests for the Holy Grail, evaded my endeavours at finding it.
After constant chiding as to why I hadn’t been there yet by friend and foodie Siddarth Savkur, who boasts a remarkably trained palate, in addition to the constant recommendation of a colleague (and dare I say friend) who truly enjoys his food like no one else I know, I finally decided to venture in said direction. Tibchis was once located a stone’s throw away from the Varca church, in what was designed to be rather unattractive store space. As Mr Savkur put it, “It’s a blink-and-you-miss-it kind of place.” I thought my blinking must have been far too liberal, as I drove in circles around the Church Square, yielding no results.
After several such futile attempts, I had resigned myself to not finding this apparent haven of Tibetan goodness, when as fate would have it, I would befriend yet another colleague, this one from Varca, who would turn out to be my human variant of Google Maps (at least for the village in question) and constant companion on my maiden voyage there and every jaunt to Tibchis thereafter.
The story goes that proprietors Gerry and his business partner, Poonam decided that a change in venue was in order, to cater to the kind of ambience they were looking for. For those who endure and find it, the little haunt is not on the Varca/Orlim border as its geographical coordinates indicate, but is in JRR Tolkien’s fabled ‘Shire’ instead. A narrow cut-off leads you through a mud road that eventually gives way to one of the lushest and greenest spaces one can hope to see. In the midst of that setting lies a little house that acts as the owners' home, where they live with their two golden retrievers, Bruno and Tyson. Set just beyond the cottage is a shed with a phenomenal view that acts as both kitchen and seating space.
The variety of momos available here is phenomenal. While they have the usual suspects of chicken and vegetable options on the menu, they also have a host of uncommon options, such as beef, prawn and pork, and my personal favourite: Goan pork sausage. Imagine a plateful of spicy, chorizo-filled, golden fried dumplings. It's Goa-meets-Tibet at its finest hour. What I also like, is that they are open to suggestion when it comes to innovation. I once told them that they should attempt making ham and cheese momos. Guess what they served me the next time I went there!
I once wrote a piece on this place, wherein I referred to them (loosely I might add), as a couple (you know, two people). However, that seemed to cause quite the stir, and Tibchis, to this date has a disclaimer on the first page of their menu, pointing out that they are in fact not a couple, and that Gerry is in fact married, and has a lovely wife called Rosemary with whom he shares children. It was a rare oops moment for me, and one I deeply regret, given that Gerry and Poonam have continued to feed and water me long after my little faux pas.
Italian fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli once said, “A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenseshappiness.” And that is exactly what Poonam is: a sorceress. There is no other way that one can disguise the little bits of magical goodness that she encloses within a little mound of dough which can either be steamed for a more modest and healthier approach to eating or fried to just the right amount of crisp for the more, ahem, ‘carefree’. But it is not merely the momos that stand out; it is the (for want of a better term) vibe of the little haunt.
The passion of the cooks behind the curtain that separates the kitchen from the dining area translates into a fabulous end product. As the rain beats steadily against the roof of the couple’s shed and I sit with a book in one hand and a fried sausage momo in the other, I realise that really, it doesn’t get much better than this. Now please hold, as I continue to leaf through what turns out to be a gripping read and pass Frodo a momo.
Please use the local method of asking around and finding your way to Tibchis. Google Maps ha no idea how to get there.
Be adventurous and order out of your comfort zone. The chicken and vegetable options are available on pretty much every other menu.
The average cost of a portion (8 pieces) of momos is approximately ₹200 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Off Margao-Cavelossim Road, Goa 403724
Food is a huge part of any culture and for me, chancing upon a good meal is synonymous with having a great day. The What’s On My Plate series of posts is where I discuss food, great places to eat, and anything gastronomically moving. This could be anything from a great place to eat, to an obscure kind of food, to an origin story. After all, there is no love like the love of eating.