This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
Peter and Sergio Gracias stand before their restaurant, which they believe will be their legacy
There are little words, merely dropped in one’s ear; which go on to culminate in a sort of ‘Butterfly Effect’. The infamous theory spawned in the year 1972 by American meteorologist Edward Lorenz and suggested that something as innocuous as a butterfly flapping its wings could spark off a reaction that could have tumultuous effects that included a cyclone on the other side of the world. In similar vein, I was subjected to such powers of suggestion by a friend in Portugal who decided to spur me on the quest to find Goan cuisine in Portugal. One would think that with a mini exodus of certain segments of Goan society heading there two generations ago, that this would be relatively simple; but not quite so.
After travelling across the country, I eventually returned to my first (and favourite) port of call: Lisbon. It was here that I discovered the existence of Peter Gracias, a Goan chef who is the proprietor of a quaint restaurant in one of the city’s littler locales: Anjos. Finding this restaurant is no mean feat either. All I can recommend doing is looking for a huge ‘graffitied’ wall that pays tribute to the Beatles (or drugs), saying ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’. Take the first left from there and you’re home free.
A little green and white awning with the words ‘Sabores de Gôa’ welcomes you to a little restaurant that is as humbly and unassumingly run as one’s personal kitchen. The proprietor, Peter, welcomes you as one of his own, in Konkani, a language that he loves. Peter handles front of house along with his son Sergio, as both their wives run the kitchen with unnatural ease, though this ease could also be attributed to the fact that they have many years of practice in the trade. Peter has been running Sabores de Gôa for 11 years now, but before that, there was a time when he fed eager mouths closer to home.
Originally from Ribandar, he ran a little restaurant called Tricana, in Dona Paula where O Pescador is currently situated, before upping and leaving for Portugal. But when he went, he took his expertise with him. His kitchen churns out everything from delectable curries of the freshest seafood, to the finest pork Sorpotel (or as it is politically correctly referred to in those parts: Sarapatela), to an Ambotik that redefines the concept of spice in Iberian parts. But what seems to have found its place in the hearts of regulars is the Aadmaas. For those who are less acquainted with the dish, Aadmaas is a dish of pork made by using the rib and other bone-dense segments so as to bring together the flavour through these segments.
However, while the food is undoubtedly delicious, the remarkable bit about Peter’s establishment is that it seems to act as a kind of homing beacon for Goans, with the community from across Europe (and certainly all of Swindon) congregating there. Visitors here pay homage to their gastronomic liege with humble offerings reverently presented, not unlike Frankincense and Myrrh. I chose to carry a bottle of Cazulo, one of Goa’s better Fenis, which was most well received.
Peter’s restaurant is a place where Fenis are shared, Sorpotel is soaked in Sannas and gossip is traded. It is a place where expletives in the vernacular fly across the room in lower decibels, as it is more ‘cultured’, while retaining enough choicest expressions to just about have a vocal ‘cha cha cha’ band in attendance, if you know what I mean.
However, this is a place that just screams, ‘home’. So the next time you are in Lisbon and longing for a little bit of Goa, head up to Anjos, turn left at ‘Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds’ and walk through the little green doorway into Sabores de Gôa. Alternatively, I suppose you could always use Google Maps and make life a little easier.
Finding Sabores de Gôa can be a pain, and parking (if you have a vehicle of your own) is a nightmare. However, it is a place that is worth visiting if you're homesick or looking to run into members of the Goan diaspora in Lisbon.
The meeting place of many a Goan, including people travelling across Europe, this is a fine place for Goan fare and Konkani banter.
The average cost of a meal for two (minus the libations, but including the vinho de mesa or house wine) would be an approximate of €30/₹2,300 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
1170-172, Anjos - Lisbon Portugal
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.