MONSOON BLUES REALLY!

HOME-MADE SNACKS IN PANAJI: At the 20-year-old Goa Sweets or mahila mandal shop of Suman Shirodkar which son Pravin Shirodkar now takes care of, here are a whole lot of Goan snacks sweet and savoury made by women at home…only place to get nachne and jowar roti! Next try the All-India Women’s Conference Goa Branch outlet on the ground floor of the Institute Menezes Braganza Building…from here I buy very nice dhokla, chivda, lemon pickle,methkut powder, etc. Better than processed industrial foods!

By Tara Narayan

IT’S really been an extreme monsoon this July with so much good, bad and ugly happening in Bharatdesh that is India and in Goa a two-wheeler outing in capital city Panaji means negotiating various genres of potholes on roadworks indifferently done. Still, the joys of greenery blooms everywhere and in market yields up all kinds of finds like bamboo shoots and the little green oval and round tennis ball ambade or hogplums I love to slice in a dal or turn into a chutney for sandwiches…
But lately in my mission to give a permanent holiday to refined white rice and wheat flour refined or not, I’ve taken a shine to the millets small or large and if I don’t do it at home, I pick up ragi or jowar roti from one of the self-help group centres down town Panaji – either from the All India Women Conference or Commission outlets tucked away here and there. There’s the one on the ground floor of the Institute Menezes Braganza building where one may get a host of snacks from decent “chivda” to “chakli” to several kinds of flour from ragi/nachne to thalipeeth flour.
Then there’s the other old outlet next to Bharat Gas offices around the road where Café Central is located, Suman bai is no longer here but there’s Govid bab and here are packets of all kinds of home-spun freshly made savoury and sweet snacks, including to my delight ragi and jowar chapatti or roti packets (Rs40 per packet of four pieces) and these I slow-roast into crisp “khakra” at home — spread atop a garlic-olive oil-hung curd mash and relish for breakfast! This in lieu of Amul or President’s butter, the Veeba garlic mayonnaise is also good although I add in my own extra crushed garlic in it.
Ambade green chutney also makes for a great vitamin C rich spread, can take the place of green mango any day. (Sigh) I’m primarily a chutney and spreads woman and often wish I could buy some home instead of spend time doing them at home. Some of the self-help group outlets keep dry chutney powders but not the wet, tantalizing fresh chutneys to store in the fridge and use over a week or so. But I find the much of the stuff in Goa a little over spiced and can’t find wet chutneys of fresh mint-green coriander or tomato-dates or raisins or even garlic-based chutneys with sesame seeds or roasted gram in them.
Of only somebody would retail half-a-dozen freshly made chutneys for me to buy home! Market version chutneys dry or rarely wet tend to be too spiced up and I much prefer the use of black pepper to red peppers (even if they are mild Kashmiri red peppers or chillies) in my chutneys and food – was telling this to the chefs of Sweet Basil at Fidalgo enclave of restaurants last week where I go sometimes to pick up medhuvada or appam-veggie stew or paniyaran…one of them offered me a taste of the newly introduced tomato rasam they are doing these days but the red chilli crumble in it put me off, in south Indian and especially Tamil Bram cuisine please use the fiery black aroma of black pepper or “black gold” please! Be it rasam or sambar or avial or veggie estew. Black pepper flavours can never be a match for the fiery red peppers of south America.

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