This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Chicken Thukpa is a great way to get a meal going. Just an FYI...this is half a portion...
Coming from Margao, when one heads further up north, one becomes the subject of topics of conversation that span across the wonders of the north and how the south is a dark space under a rock. However, every once in a while, there are a few places that seem to break free of that little theoretical cocoon, and one new haunt in question calls itself ‘The Chikoo Tree Project’.
This new little spot finds itself geographically filling shoes that have been filled before; now set up in the space previously occupied by Ruta’s and Tizumi, in Margao. The restaurant is the brainchild of Trupti Chatterjee, who grew up in Mysore, with the view of a chickoo tree in her grandmother’s home, leading to the baptism of her latest venture. However, there are two things that are important when it comes to annotations about this eatery.
1.) It serves as a space that is dedicated to the arts and crafts as much as it is to food, and considers gastronomy an art form too (don’t we all?). This is extended to housewives who are welcomed to the enterprise to cook, with their creations becoming ‘the dishes of the day’.
2.) The restaurant says very boldly (and baldly) that their focus is on food that they know to make well, and hence would rather dish those things out, as opposed to just about anything, in haphazard fashion. Also, and this is rather important, the place is absolutely focused on the size of their servings, which means that you’re thoroughly fed with one dish alone, so choose wisely while ordering.
The afternoon, for me, started with a serving of the classic Eastern-Tibetan noodle soup, thukpa. A thorough meal in itself, just like any hungry soul on a cold Tibetan day would attest to, this dish was thoroughly flavourful, and had all the ingredients necessary to make it a good thukpa...and then some. The thukpa at ‘The Chikoo Tree Project’ is a tad more opulent than standard issue. It incorporates strips of egg and bok choy, which aren’t present in every variation of this dish. However, I would gladly have this as my go-to meal on a colder/sick day. It’s warm, wholesome and very comforting.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Hasselback Potatoes, the pièce de résistance of my meal
Next up would be my second favourite of the day: the House Speciality Raagi or Kal Dosa. This is something that I believe is ideal to be marketed as the signature dish of the space, as it isn’t something found with ease, on most menus. The dosas come with options of fillings, ranging from chutney masala, egg, lamb kheema or chorizo and cheese. I partook of the lamb kheema and the chorizo and cheese variants, and while the latter was the one that I personally preferred, both dosas were extremely fulfilling. All the dosas are served along with a choice of either vegetable or chicken stew as well as coconut chutney.
For me, the pièce de résistance was the last dish that I tried: Hasselback Potatoes. These come with a choice of stuffing that includes Garlic and Cheese, Spinach and Cheese, Bacon and Cheese or Bolognese and Goat’s Milk Cheese. For obvious reasons, I opted for the Bacon and Cheese, and it did not disappoint in the slightest. The potato cooked through beautifully, and there’s no way to go wrong with that combination of flavours, is there?
While the space is small and cosy, the hearts of the people in the kitchen and the portions are massive. If you haven’t yet slotted ‘The Chikoo Tree Project’ into your planner, now wouldn’t be such a bad time to start doing so.
The Chikoo Tree Project is a go-to place for anyone that is looking to have that quick cafe-styled meal in the heart of Margao.
Order judiciously here, as the portions are well-sized.
The average cost of a meal for two, minus the libations, is ₹750 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Dr Miguel Miranda Road, Margao, Goa 403601
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.