WHAT’S IN A ROS OMELET?

Goa’s ros omlet… it is the favourite snack of aam aadmi and khaas aadmi for a quick bite on the streets, although these days one may also find it in upmarket restaurant menus. Of course, there is ros omlet and ros omlet with connoisseurs preffering the Goan xacuti curry version. Side servings include Goan bread like pao, undo or poie

By Tara Narayan

WHAT is this ros omelet (we’ll stick to American spellcheck here) and how does one define it? Not traditional Goan cuisine but definitely much loved combo street food of Goa! Don’t ask me why but I want to do some omelet talk here this week because it churns up such bitter memories for me. Twenty years in Goa and I’m been telling myself I haven’t yet eaten the State’s favorite omelet, what’s wrong with me? What? Ros Omelet or “ross omelette”, you know that omlet which comes drowned in last evening’s coddi this morning for breakfast or the chicken xacuti curry made for lunch which comes in useful by way of leftovers …Goans like to relish a chicken xacuti ros omlet for teatime or an early dinner?
That’s generally speaking a ros omelet, any basic omelet floating atop a curry vegetarian or mostly in Goa non-vegetarian curry. Funny, I’ve never liked the sound of it and that to without ever having relished it in all my years in Goa! Which is unfair, judging something without tasting it. Anyway, suddenly ros omelet came to mind and my curiosity aroused because of this new item I came across announcing that someone is going to rig up the world’s biggest Ros Omelette soon and Goan actress Poonam Karekar Govekar of Mapusa is going to do the honors – the date scheduled tentatively is Sunday, July 5, 2020, that is if all goes well on the coronavirus lockdown which is opening up in phases now.
Yes, indeed, for some time now I’ve heard and known about Goa’s omelet although I can’t find the recipe in any one of my Goan cookbooks! That’s because it is street food served by hawkers or vendors across Goa’s urban haunts. It’s one of Goa’s much loved anytime street snack and even midnight snack. You may ask me how I first came to hear about it, after all I’m still a bhaile and my Konkani is of the kichpich hinga yo, thinga go variety! Well, come to think of it, I’ve been an outsider most of my life but that’s another story to tell someday.
To stay with the ros omelet ask me when I first heard of it? Funny, or not funny, any talk of Goa’s razzmatazz ros omelets reminds me of the late chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar. Reportedly, he used to love them and was as fond of snacking on ros omelets outside the Alankar cinema ghaddo vendors in Mapusa, if not dropping by at Café Bhonsale in Panaji for bhaji-puri or pao! All this near or past midnight or so the story went. Some half-a-dozen years ago or more when the monsoon had set in and I was at this party chatting about the gastro epidemic in town and how many were pointing fingers at ghaddo vendors doing great business with their presumably dirty food snacks at street corners, someone mentioned that even Manohar Parrikar likes his ros omelet outside Alankar cinema in Mapusa around midnight hours before heading home (he lived in Mapusa).
When I next spoke to an angry Mr Parrikar he said yes, he visited the Alankar cinema ghaddo but only for “narial pani!”His favorite ghaddo fellow however had told me otherwise, I told him, when I had gone out there. Well, the rest is petty history and I’ll skip it to carry on with Goa’s ros omelet saga here. It’s remarkable how we can take a basic recipe and do so many more tempting take-offs on it. Like take a basic omelet of eggs and then pour a curry on it – a terrific West-East combo, no? Don’t know if I would like a curried ros omelet though, one of this days I’m going to look for the best ros omelet in Panaji or anywhere in Goa, tell me where to go.
I don’t like chili hot curries and find Goa’s original recipes becoming spicier and spicier over the years, don’t know why. They’re not so spicy in home cooking though, not even Goa fish curry. Some chili is good, too much chili can burn up one’s arsehole the next morning so I stay away from spicy hot curries and pickles although one pretty hot pickle I have a soft corner for is the red chili achar of Punjab or is it Kashmir. Plump glossy red chili are stuffed with a tangy hot aniseed-redolent masala and it a bit goes a long way towards making a plain rice, kichdi or chappati come alive with incredible flavor. May keep fanning your mouth afterwards though or drinking water or chewing a piece of gud! Can find this pickle only at FabIndia which has opened up now!
Of course there is also dry garlic chutney (no coconut please) and onion chutney which can be absolutely wholesome and no need for sabzi or dal either. My favorite dry garlic and onion chutney is out of the market and I can’t find it high or low anywhere currently. Because of Covid19 I’ve been cooking the regular more at home and then buying from out – seeing how most restaurant and hotel kitchens in Panaji have been operating at half-mast, that is, on take-away or delivery orders through the successive lockdowns and given the precautionary rules few want to open up fully even these days when the green signal is up.
The Kamat Hotel boss tells me the fear of coronavirus is there and “we have little children at home! Half my workers have gone back to Karnataka and we’re managing with just a few workers now…opening up rules are so impractical that we are wondering to open up fully or not. For the time being we’re staying with just takeaways which people prefer.” So that’s it, Covid19 fears are growing and most folk prefer to stick to cooking at home or doing takeaways or home deliveries from restaurant kitchens they trust and have some faith in vis-à-vis hygiene and sanitation.
Funny or not funny. One time we used to say American breezy style, “Have a good day!” Now we say over the phone, “Stay home, stay safe!” Virtual lifestyles have arrived and I’m not sure I like or approve. Only look, don’t touch is not my philosophy in life! May common sense prevail above all and may we continue to take our chances to live joyously these monsoon months and may there be no malaria epidemics joining mistress or mademoiselle or Madam Coronavirus….but why should I perceive the pandemic as feminine? Please make that Kumar or Sahebzaada Coronavirus!

ROS OMELET

Goa’s much-loved ros omelet or ras omlette’ enjoys a versatile personality!Ros’means ‘gravy’ in Konkani and generally speaking it is a street hawker fare of a combo dish where an egg omelet is laden with spicy curry of chicken, mutton or even chickpeas and you may enjoy a Goan Catholic ros omelet or Goan Hindu omelet…simply as you like it.
Ingredients
1 tbs oil (coconut oil if you wish); 1 onion, chopped; 1 tomato, chopped; 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste; 1 tsp turmeric powder; 1 tsp chili powder; salt to taste. Also 1 tsp garam masala ( optional); 1 cup coconut milk; 2 eggs, quarter tsp black pepper powder; chopped green chili; chopped coriander and mint leaves; water as desired.
Method
To make the gravy pour oil in a pan, adding ginger-garlic, chopped onion and tomato, stir and cook till soft. Add red chili powder, garam masala, salt to taste. Add little water as required. Add thick coconut milk and let gravy simmer.
Do the omelet by breaking and beating eggs in a bowl, adding finely chopped coriander, green chili, turmeric powder, black pepper powder, chopped green coriander, salt per taste. Put a little oil in another pan and pour in the egg mixture to make omelet over medium high heat.
When omelet is ready plate it in a deep dish and pour gravy over it. Garnish with fresh chopped coriander and mint leaves which are great green flavor givers and mint is a good digestive leaf. Serve with rice, Goan bread or chappati. Ros omlet is a filling snack in between meals or a small meal by itself.

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