A feast of biryani, kabab, Chinese food, Goan food and much else at Goa Tourism’s Food & Cultural Festival: (clockwise from top left) frying away merrily thin slices of rawas, kingfish, lepo; mercifully, Zakis has vegetarian biryani for me; don’t get fooled for all this display fruit is nakli; good idea, a Goan food stall in the absence of chepnim salted mango offered fresh cut green mango sliced and tossed in a peppery masala to go with fish curry-rice; good idea to take the weight of your feet by asking artist Sanket Mandrekar to take his time doing tattoo or sketch of you!

By Tara Narayan

NOTHING changes. Or rather nothing changes with me! Global warming is beginning to affect me and I can no longer tell winter from spring from summer, all of them follow each other in double or triple quick time and there is less mother earth around me to connect to…have you noticed? When I first came to Panaji in the 70s the Campal promenade was like a cathedral of trees and so wondrously shady and cool, but now!
Oh, the old world gracious Panaji I knew and loved is going, going and will soon be gone with the wind and in its place there will be this blindingly tacky vertically blocked city rising endlessly without rhyme or reason…despite all the money the late chief minister Manohar Parrikar spent on putting in all the ugly decorative plants down the Campal promenade during the first International Film Festival of India in Panaji, the garden housekeeping of the Corporation of the City of Panaji has become shabbier and leaves a lot to be desired.
This is to say Panaji is no longer a cool town. It’s become and is becoming even more so a honky tonky jhat phat city with casinos crowding and polluting whatever is left of the river Mandovi (after Karnataka has finished with it). Oh, okay, to move on I’m thinking of Goa Tourism’s Food & Cultural Festival over the Carnival days and dropped by to see if there was something for me to eat but nothing really pleased except all the icy minty cocktails which came in takeaway mug jugs for 100. Increasingly, I’m becoming more vegetarian than non-vegetarian and all the line-up of sizzling kebabs, mutton and chicken biryani, and rich Goan seafood put me off, at least not for dining anyway. So much frying going on happily at almost every stall and in the end I turned away even from the slender lepo frying away to oily satiation…but at the Zukis dum pukht biryani stall I succumbed to the temptation of in vegetarian matka biryani, decided to buy and take it home to share with hubby. Zakis had both veg dum biryani (200) and veg matki biryani (250) and what’s the difference I asked and was told I’d get the fragrance of the terracotta matki in the matki biryani and got stupidly intrigued by the idea! I said, okay pack up one for me, plus give me salad and pudina chutney. Back home the biryani was quite cold but I liked the hint of sour and relished the biryani though it was too spicy for the hubby. Also appreciated the clean cut salad of cabbage, onion, lemon piece which came along. Then it dawned at me that I bought my veg biryani in a matki but paid50 extra for the eco-friendly matki.
I mean the veg biryani was the same whether it came in a plastic container pack or in a matki and there was no such thing as heady earthernware matki aroma! So what did I expect, expectations can always con us. Not that I mind paying more for eco-friendly packaging seeing how much gross or class plasticware there is in the retailing food business. And most everyone is buying home food these days. Most of give a damn if we’re choking mother earth to death with our use and throw plastic katchrapati mindset…and I’m as guilty of this most every time I get tempted into buying food from out.
There is so much fancy plastic ware and cling film in the retailing of food takeaways that I can’t take my eyes of it at home when I chuck it in the bin. Lots of plastics at the food fair too and it put me off. Also lots of frying in God alone knows what kind of oil and fats also put me off – sometimes sunflower oil, most times palmolein oil and lots of hydrogenated fat oils (top of the list for contributing towards turning arteries to concrete, mine are already half concrete). (Sigh) I feel like a regular hyprocrite when I buy home food these days.
Lots of liquor was also flowing with all kind of new Made in Goa whiskey, beer and spicy urrack if you please, which the compere on stage was urging everyone to go drink! I like my urrack fresh with lemon juice, water, salt spiked rimmed glass — served on the rocks of course. I tried some of the Susegado Goan Craft Beer of Tropical Wit (light fruity spicy) and the English Ale which was nicely bitterish…but wish somebody would bring English apple cider to Goa! There was also a Dortmund Lagar (thirst quenching, medium bodied, crisp)…all going for Rs150, but for the tall pleasing plastic glass please deposit Rs50 extra. Return glass, get back your Rs50 deposit. Excellent idea but do it with pleasing glass mug instead!
THE Hyderabadi Biryani people were also around but I couldn’t resist stopping at the Ziakauser Catering folk who are new to me but from the sound and looks of it they’re also biryani specialists but with a difference, they’re more health-conscious. They had Mughlai chicken dum biryani and offering mini and restaurant portions for Rs150 and Rs200, respectively; also butter chicken with Malabar paratha, tandoori sheek kabab, malai sheek kabab, reshmi sheek kabab, taangdi kabab and last but not least of all Eid special sheer khurma which I almost bought but didn’t…sugar, sugar my dears, one of the four industrial ingredients of the food industry we must shun more and more.
Elsewhere too meaty stuff was grilling away….since there was no place to sit and eat some steamed veg momo I discovered, I had half a mind to just sit at the entrepreneurial artist Sanket Mandrekar stall to get a tattoo done or get myself live sketched…to get the weight of my feet a bit. He was very busy though with a crowded scene out there. I decided to leave early.
Funny, how many women were feasting on just hot fried potato fries at Rs50 a generous portion! These days fries or fried anything makes me feel sickly hot and I’m even turning down nice-looking samosa…small joys in my depressing lifestyle though. One of these days I dream of going away somewhere to become a raw foodie at least 75% of the time.
IT’S my New Zealand sister who kind of watches out for me and keeps telling me I’m a fool if I don’t drink warm turmeric tea in the morning! Drink warm turmeric tea every morning for its amazing anti-inflammatory properties. Just pour warm water in a cup and stir in half a teaspoon of turmeric, add a teaspoon of raw organic honey if you wish to make it more palatable. Hey, there’re any number of studies proving that curcumin in turmeric lowers risk of heart disease and helps cardiovascular system stay in optimum condition. I understand that a cup of warm turmeric tea is all kinds of good things, so drink up, cheers.
Reportedly, turmeric works better than non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which come with side effects. It enhances production of bile and makes for better digestion, protects liver which is generally speaking overworked in our times….curcumin encourages regeneration of liver tissue. From the sound of it drinking warm turmeric tea is a super healthy thing to do. So okay, I’m drinking warm turmeric tea first thing in the morning from tomorrow and who knows I’ll turn golden and acquire a Midas touch one of these days!

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