WHERE HAVE THE QUINTESSENTIAL VEGETABLE CUTLET GONE! By Tara Narayan

Vegetable cutlets are making a comeback as decent savory snack …. find them only at Hotel Kamat down town Panaji

By Tara Narayan

DON’T ask me why but I was pining to eat some decent old-fashioned veggie cutlets last week. I can’t find them for love or for money in any restaurant or eatery – good old-fashioned cutlets, quite, quite different from the patty stuffed in burger buns. Although I suppose one may think of the patty in burger buns as a veggie cutlet of sorts, I try my luck sometimes and ask if I may just buy the burger patty instead of the bun, “I will pay for the patties of course, sell them to me!” It’s usually nothing doing of course.
Patties which are mass of cooked and grated potato and finely chopped veggies are the nicest hunger fillers and I can make a main meal of them to last me for the day. (Sigh) But I don’t see veggie or non-veggie patties on sale anywhere in our many bakeries or delicattesans, not even at Delphinos supermarketwhich I consider has just about everything to tempt the mind and the stomach including some of the widest range of breads and cookies from its own bakery above the premises near Taleigao church and cemetery!
Patties are not for sale but I wish they were. Why should I have to buy the entire burger bun to extract only the potato or veggie-stuffed patty to devour in a hungry mood? I do that occasionally, buy the whole burger, chuck the bun and eat the patty alone with some chutney or another. I usually get the plain aloo tikki burger buns, keep the tikki stuffed in between and chuck the soft bread bun which is kind of excruciatingly inedible, turns to gobs of sticky mass in the mouth.
But the potato or veggie patty is always welcome and I may order two of the MacDonalds burger buns just to savor the aloo tikki! I wish fresh mint chutney would come along as a side helping and not the deadly sachets of tomato sauce which take forever to open and I generally give up on them. Let them return to wherever they came from to be re-cycled!
I am totally against the use of single-use plastics in the food business but we are the villains of the Mother Earth hell bent on killing her with our toxic plastic wastes. Shame on us, may our race die off soon! But this is to say I have been looking for good old-fashioned cutlets for some time now and find they have vanished from eateries, I mean even Navatara doesn’t have them. Then I suddenly discovered them to my delight at good old Kamat Hotel down town Panaji, a whole pile of them laid out in a platter in the cabinet on view – inviting heart-shaped veggie cutlets I’ve fallen for. So much so every now and again I go get them although they have hiked the price of their veg cutlet to Rs47.62, adding up to Rs50 in toto.
Of course I have taken to feasting them and only wish they would be served with a little salad of onion, tomato, cucumber rings. Too much to ask for I suppose in these inflationary times! In the old days one could find veggie cutlets in Mumbai eateries quite easily – they came round or v-shaped or heart-shaped, and sometimes oblong rolls, served with tomato ketch-up or coconut chutney or fresh mint chutney, depending on what kind of an eatery you were in – Udipi, Irani or some of the Parsi outlets used to retail cutlets too.
I find veggie cutlets as welcome as cocktail samosa as long as they are well-made and don’t turn up at table soaking in greasy oil remnants! And if they are not cheat cutlets with barely a smattering of veggies in them…my veggie cutlets must be packed with more veggies than potato puree.
The five-stars usually have decent veg and non-veg cutlets though they may be fancy in shape. I prefer the shallow-fried versions and not the deep-fried veggie cutlet rolls, those are atrocious. Always ask what kind of cutlets they are before ordering by the menu….old-fashioned cutlets are usually of mashed potato and veggies and shallow-fried. If they’re good I ask for a pack-up and go home and stuff the veggie cutlets in a sandwich toaster and enjoy at leisure with a cup of masala tea! A most savoury filler for happy stomachs.
This is to say the Kamat Hotel heart-shaped cutlets are agreeable – they are packed with veggies, a crumble of cooked potato, cabbage, onion maybe, green peas, carrot, bread crumbs and undoubtedly shallow-fried, can be a little oozy with oil if their chef is having a bad day. Order a plate and they are served with coconut chutney. Buy some home and they make for an evening snack which can double as an early meal to wind up the day…add your own salad or coleslaw to go with the cutlets. I may not enjoy refined white sliced bread but I’m happy with sourdough bread sliced thin, toasted and then the warm veg cutlet or patty slipped in between. After that I’m done for the day or night, depending on whether I have had them for breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea-time or dinner. Vegetable cutlets are a perennial favourite with me although and in my time I’ve savoured all manner of veggie cutlets in upmarket and downmarket places in Mumbai which was Bombay once upon a time.
If anybody is making veggie cutlets at home and marketing them, let me know! Veggie cutlets make for fiber-rich food and if you suffer from constipation, eat veggie cutlets (loaded with veggies). I suppose one could specialize in making all kinds of veggie cutlets if one has a mind to!
But I’ll swear by my preferred veggie cutlets of…er…Hotel Kamat. I give their cutlets seven-and-a-half on a scale of ten for decent quality.

ARE AYURVEDA WELLNESS FACILITIES BOOMING IN GOA?

RECENTLY, while I was thinking of which Ayurveda retreat I could run away too (Sarth Ayurveda Retreat in Sawantwadi came to mind and beckons me) it dawned on me what wellness holidays are the fastest selling holidays today! Hey, increasingly folk are preferring to go on Ayurveda-cum-naturopathy “holiday” packages which are not strictly speaking eat-drink-play-be merry holidays as we understand them in Goa – but holidays with a difference.
These health or detox-seeking holidays are sought by urban dwellers and these growing number of Ayurveda and naturopathy retreats, centers, ashrams are much sought after…call them Ayurveda holidays if you wish. It is holidaying with a difference and you may eat, drink and be merry but your meals will be simply sumptuous veggie buffets with the dishes cooked along the guiding principles of Ayurveda – mostly sattvik food (honest food)!
Then there is nothing to do all day long except go for various treatments which may be exhausting (but this is feel good exhaustion by the end of the day) with or without panchakarma (Ayurveda’s main detox treatment which demands you fast more than you feast while on this holiday).
If I remember right there are about seven types of Ayurveda massages…the most common abhyangam (a full body massage using warm oil, very soothing); shirodhara is much sought after (a head massage in which medicated oil drips down on your forehead to spread through your scalp hairlines, I like this one for it is for the mentally fatigued like me!); pizhichil (also a warm oil massage for shot nerves, prescribed for vata dosha patients on the obese side who suffer stiffness); njavarkijhi (here special hot cooked rice boluses are dipped in cow’s milk or ghee and used to stimulate perspiration); ubtaan and elakijhi (herbal massage to rejuvenate and nourish skin); udvartana (for kapha or obese patients, herbal paste or dried herbal powders are applied). There’s a massage called garshana where no oil or herbal powders are used but the masseur wears raw silk gloves to massage in light movements to stimulate lymphatic system, lymphatic system is waste removal system of the body, sometimes it gets jammed up with too much sedentary living).
Not a bad idea at all. To go on a health-conscious or health seeking holiday and now there are several such packages holidays even in Goa where there are several wellness facilities run by Goans or well-heeled foreigners in Goa. A friend of mine was telling me about Oorja Wellness Center in Margao, where her diabetic mother is recovering from gangrenous damage to a leg — instead of amputation, she was being treated both with the medicines of mainstream Allopathy as also alternate medicine practitioners or Ayurveda vaidya. And yes, she is recovering good although in pain…the Oorja Wellness facility down south Goa is also in Panaji and from the sound of it has some very well qualified vaidya.
Ayurveda is said to be more effective for such afflictions as psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, retinitis, pigmentosa, piles, obesity, etc. I will swear by Ayurveda-cum-naturopathy treatments for I have seen how they have done me much good in the past when say I was at the famous osteopath and naturopath Dr K M Modi’s – Modi’s Karjat Resort. It is an Ayurveda and Naturopathy facility managed by Dr Modi and his wife Usha with the help of trained staff.
This Modi’s Karjat Resort is something like a 50 acre complex, about two hours of driving from Mumbai. It’s tucked in the foothills of the Sahyadri hills of the Western Ghats and offers sparten cottages by way of accommodation, a pool, I recall a wonderful terrace where I was treated to my first mud bath and afterwards felt like singing a song on top of the world! A friendlier place would be hard to find but I dare say the various package rates must have gone up now seeing how much in demand Ayurveda-cum-naturopathy health holidays are in demand!
That’s the whole point. Why has Ayurveda gone so upmarket and accessible only to the wealthy classes? Even panchakarma treatment costs Rs6,000 per day and for in-house patients everything is laid on… accommodation, A/c, Wi-Fi, veg breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, welcome drink, welcome foot and head massage on first day of arrival, pulse diagnosis and a consultation to identify your constitution, whether you are more kapha, vata or pita (the dosha as it is called define our primary constitution upon which Ayurveda works). A special food chart may be prescribed for you along with the kind of treatments which will benefit you and so on and so forth.
This is to say if you’re a Goenkar in search of a health and happiness package because something is bothering you…check out Oorja, Swan Ayurveda up north Goa, Lotus Nature Cure Yoga Retreat Center in Orlim, Vedas5 Wellness Resort & Spa at Arambol which comes highly rated.
Hey, I’m told that Goa now has something like 22 Ayurveda facilities. No least of all I will mention the Devaaya Ayurveda & Nature Cure Centre on Divar island, founded by the late Victor Alburqueque (and wife Sylvia) who discovered the joys of vegetarian eating in Goa! So don’t go knocking vegetarian or vegan or even raw veggie eating one or twice a day to reap fighting fit good health.
This is to say I still haven’t found a place where I may run away to for a few days of rest and relaxation in Ayurveda mode! But do some follow up homework of your own and treat yourself to a wellness holiday, such holidays are worth their weight in truth, freedom and health and Goa has a lot to offer by way of wellness holidays.

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