This post is a part of the What’s On My Plate series
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
The Apple Jalebi, best eaten after having been soaked in rabdi
If I had to rate Goa Marriott Resort and Spa for its food, there would have been a time when I said it was great, then there would have been a time when I said it was hit-and-miss, and now, I can honestly say that its latest endeavour has been outstanding. The property, under the guidance of Executive Chef Anupam Ghulati, has put together a festival titled ‘Flavours of India’. It is an attempt (and a very successful one at that) at a food trail across the country, involving pop up cooking stations, décor from all parts of the country, and a very rustic vibe, all in all.
While guests can walk about and pick what they like from wherever they like, I placed myself in the hands of the chef and asked him to pick for me, as I find that this often yields the best results. The first dish that Chef Anupam sent my way was the Murgh Awadhi Shorba. Awadhi cuisine is native to the city of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and its cooking patterns have been greatly influenced by Mughal cooking techniques. For those less initiated, it’s simplistic, while retaining a hint of Middle Eastern influence. The shorba embodies all of that. It’s a broth that has a strong base of chicken stock, while incorporating lentils and a few greens.
Somehow, it was a culinary whirlwind that I was exposed to. Before the soup had reached the bottom of the bowl, a sampling from one of the many stalls headed my way in the form of the Koyle Ki Aanch Pe Bhuney Bhuttey: roasted corn, slathered with with aromatic spices, cooked on a griddle. Think corn-on-the-cob, with spices replacing butter. Now everyone associated with North Indian cuisine knows the combination of bhuney bhuttey and shorba is a classic Mughlai combination, and in my opinion, a great way to kick-start a dinner that aims to be a food-trail across the country.
Picture: Kishore Amati
The Martbaan Ki Murgh Biryani, served alongside Burrhani Raita
The next dish to come our way was the Dhabbey Wala Murgh Tikka. Needless to say, chicken tikka is a dish that is probably everyone’s favourite tandoor-centric dish; it’s chicken tandoori, but without the bone-related fuss. And this one was beautifully cooked, still moist and not dried out on the inside. However, as excellent as it was, it paled in comparison to the next one that was presented before me, the Shorshe Machh Paturi. A dish of Bengali origin, it involved tender parcels of fish steamed in banana leaves, but not before being coated with the pungent, indigenous mustard-based paste of shorshe bata and drizzled with mustard oil. In all honesty, of all the savoury dishes I tried that evening, this one probably trumped the lot.
The next dish kept things local with a serving of Chicken Cafreal with Poie. A classic Goan combination, but if I were rating all the dishes in order of which one I liked best, I would have to say that this was the one I liked least, purely because of the fact that I’ve been spoiled rotten by all the aunties with tiny village stalls that have been ever so kind to give me a sampling of their culinary nous. However, there can be no doubt that with the tourists that frequent the property, the dish will be one that is waxed about most lyrically.
Chef Anupam had to personally come out and introduce the next dish, ala boxing ring announcer on fight night. The Peepey Wale Chholey, Amritsari Kulcha with Mukka Pyaz and Sukhi Aloo is a mouthful, in every sense of the word. The Peepey Wale Chholey is an absolutely mouth-watering chickpea delicacy, complete with its ethnic accompaniment, the Amritsari Kulcha. The filling is very similar to the Aloo Anardana Kulcha, but with a healthy shaking of chaat masala as well. Rumour also has it that this version of the kulcha has its origins in street food, where kulchas are deep fried in a kadai, or wok.
I think the most overstated and popular rice-based dish anywhere along the subcontinent is biryani. It’s just synonymous with Indian rice, somehow. My next dish was the Martbaan Ki Murgh Biryani, served with Burrhani Raita, a tribute to my previous statement, and a tribute to one of the country’s iconic dishes.
Picture: Fernando Monte da Silva
Corn on the cob being blackened over a griddle, or as the good people at Goa Marriott Resort and Spa call it, Koyle Ki Aanch Pe Bhuney Bhuttey
One of the reasons that I love the dessert section at Goa Marriott Resort and Spa is that more often than not, it involves a chance encounter with the property’s pastry chef, Samantha Nunes. I have long since been an advocate of the concept that chefs that love what they’re cooking, make the best food. Chef Samantha’s vivaciousness lends itself to the pastry section and the food that she dishes out oozes that. A little mini platter of dessert that she placed before me contained the following: Mohan Thal, Kaju Katli, Gulab Ki Kheer, Aam Rasmalai, Mysoor Pak and Motichoor Ke Laddoo. Now there’s absolutely no doubt that they were all outstanding, every last one. However, if I had to pick one solitary dish that stood out, I would have to say that for me, the Aam Rasmalai won, hands down. The mango flavour was subtle, and not overpowering. The ‘chenna’ (cottage cheese) patties were soft and spongy, and not gluggy. I can’t begin to say how much I loved it. Walking around the service area, I noticed that there were other dessert options on offer too, and being a fan of fusion cuisine, I went gaga over some of them. Two perfect examples of these were the Masala Chai Crème Brulée and the Gajar Ka Halwa Pudding, which were both incredibly rich, and just incredible, much like another dessert up for grabs, the Apple Jalebi, which is best eaten after having been soaked in rabdi.
All in all, is the ‘Flavours of India’ festival worth a visit? Absolutely! It’s also a visit that must be undertaken soon, given the fact that it ends this Sunday, August 14. And as a little footnote, please keep plenty of space for dessert.
It is the first time in a long time that Goa Marriott has impressed me in terms of the quality of food, which is top notch.
The Flavours Of India festival runs only until the end of the week, so there's no time like the present to get there.
The average cost per head, for the Flavours Of India festival is ₹1,500 (at the time of publishing this review).
How to get there
Miramar, Panjim, Goa 403001
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.