AT THIS YEAR’S LOKOTSAV FOOD COURT…

Amritsar’s Khulad-ki-pizza’ andFruit Ice-Cream’!

AT THE LOKOTSAV THIS YEAR….The food court offered the usual range of Rajasthani kachori, chaats, dahiwada, jalebi. From Amritsar came desi nouvelle cuisine kulhad pizza and fruit ice-cream.

By Tara Narayan

IT IS true there is always more purchasing power in our wealthy cities and that is why all kinds of exhibition sales come to town. Goa is after all enjoys the highest per capita income and from what I could see there’s no shortage of money in Goa when it comes to buying more and more to interior decorate homes and please the palate. The Lokotsav is the queen of all the ethnic goodies fairs which comes to capital city in Panaji and last week I was appreciating anew the lovely range of sarees from around the country, cotton bedsheets, coverlets, quilts and “doha” from Rajasthan, terracotta ware, all kinds of traditional costume jewellery, the lovely foldable reed mats from West Bengal, black stone cookware from the North-Eastern states, durries and carpets, cane lamps, and oh so much more!
In all there is the food court and the Self-Help Groups or eager entrepreneurs with their definitely very purchasable delectable of Indian gooseberries, namely aonla which is now sweetened in jaggery, honey and several savoury chaat masala, these I can never resist; this time I also came across Savita Pawar from Neuri Nagar in Panaji who offered these gorgeous large jowari bhakri/roti (Rs25 per packet of two with a portion of spicy green chilli-garlic-groundnut “thecha,” very Maharashtrian-style, can burn your tongue, but Savita said, “Madam add curd and mix up and you won’t suffer so much!”).
I was only interested in the jowari bhakri. I just love them and can’t find them for love or for money, unless I make them at home. I tell Savita Pawar is it is okay if come pick up just the jowari bhakri from her since she lives close by to where I am and she agreed to supply me with two bhakri at Rs40 – but none of the plastic packaging! Maybe I will take her up on this offer.
Elsewhere there was the fresh and enthusiastic Neelam Solanki, also of Panjim, who had these most freshly made piece de resistance Gujarati snack dhokla – a creamy “rava-rice dhokla” and a savoury “chana-rice dhokla.” I consider these steamed snacks very wholesome food along with green mint chutney. Neelam tells me, “The dhokla are made by my mother Vandana Solanki, she makes the best dhokla and I’m only helping her to market them!” Of course she is interested in taking orders, please call her anytime. I like her liveliness and certainly will when I feel like …er…Gujarati “dhokla.”

GLIMPSES OF LOKOTSAV 2024 CRAFTS AND SELF-HELP GROUP SNACKS...homemade dhokla and methu thepla, dehydrated awala, elsewhere were rugs, carpets, dhari, chatai, sarees, traditional costume jewelry, pottary ware, and much else to feel at home with.


Damages? Most of these home-made snacks are going for Rs50 per limited packet portion or so nowadays (and I was paying Rs20 for the same barely two years ago, the “murukku” and “chivda” and “shankarpalli” and banana wafers). It’s the overheads of unfriendly packaging which add up, I guess and most of these home-based snacks retailers don’t know it is illegal to use staple pins to pin up their plastic packets sleekly!
BUT this is to say I came home with a packet of divine Farm Hots’ dehydrated aonla candy/relish (their dried kokum rinds are superlatively juicy and desirable too); jowari bhakri and dhokla and before I forget, also “methi-na-thepla!” All of which fared me well over three days’ worth of honest food, no need to cook!
WHICH reminds me with my daily trips to the GMC I’ve become quite weary of the GMC’s Yoo Salt & Pepper canteen’s fryum snacks with few exceptions. These days I’m also buying slim rolls and filling them with peanut butter, before wrapping them up for a patient; the Yoo canteen offers these slim sweet cream rolls for Rs25, they’re sandwiched with sugary cream and come from cold storage.
At one time one could easily find such decent stuff as delectable egg rolls, scrumptious veggie and chicken pies a la mini-quiche, but those days are gone. All we find nowadays is chicken-stuffed white sliced bread sandwiches, deadly puff patties and other sundries…bread pakoda fryums! But then I go all the way down town to Café Real or Café Bhonsale’s to pick up a hot Manglore bun for someone who wants to live on them!
Folk don’t just flock to the Lokotsav to buy all kinds of goods from the country over; they also come to eat at the food court which as usual this year too had the Rajasthani folk retailing their line-up of onion and potato kachori, also moong dal kachori, aloo tikki, dahivada…plus some of the savoury chaat snacks, and the familiar sweets of jumbo jalebi and moong dal halva. This time there were more food retailers from Rajasthan.
But holding court from Amritsar this year was a guy doing curious “kulad pizza” and “fruit ice-cream” (Rs300 and Rs100, respectively) and these were doing very well with the college students doing the rounds at lunchtime or later for tea-time! Even Rajasthani thali meal deal was being offered with “dal-bhatti-churma” but I don’t think there were many takers for this and it had to be ordered in advance. After such a meal one would want to toddle off to snooze beneath a tree of course but where are the trees in Panaji nowadays worth sleeping beneath! I must confess Goa’s winter months are exciting with all these exhibition sales ethnic and not so ethnic but for once I’m suffering for want of purchasing power these days. So I’ve stopped buying, buying and buying for love or for money. Neither love nor money brings happiness or peace of mind.
WHICH reminds me how many little eateries are coming up here and there in the Panjim suburbia. Everybody thinks there’s money in feeding those who cannot for a zillion reasons sustain a kitchen at home! Unfortunately, the good mingles with the bad and ugly and one learns by experience as in once is enough.
Clearly aam aadmi Goans with their own homes, car and fairly good life are feeling the pinch; the easiest thing to lubricate cost of living is to start a small eatery in the neighbourhood. Sometimes the prices are inflated but quality-wise these small local eateries offer better food values. At one such come-lately eatery I realized that nobody wants to eat so much white refined flour bread anymore – so the guy here had these slim hot dog rolls and cute “paozina.”
These slender rolls and small round buns are most welcome! I love to cut them mid-way gently and smooth in peanut butter or a delicate coleslaw (finely slivered cabbage, carrot, beetroot, celery, tomato, cucumber, whatever catches my fancy, all of it tossed in garlic or mint mayonnaise) in them. Try salt-black pepper seasoned mashed potato, or even steam-cooked boiled, mashed veggies seasoned with honey mustard sauce…absolutely yummilicious! Wrap in clean translucent food grade paper and serve to whoever. At least 50% healthy if other 50% unhealthy! With the Café Bangalore filter coffee if you can go get it…”cheeni kum” or better still coffee jaggery-sweetened as is traditionally done in the deep southern homes of Tamilnadu.
Normally these hot dog rolls come sandwiched with chicken or meat stuffing but at my newly friend’s Wallace Gonsalves’ new eatery R’s Fusion House Cafe (more or less opposite Our Lady of Rosary Church at older end of Caranzalen road, a fabulous well here is the landmark) apart from the usual Goan fryums of prawn risois, chicken and veggie puffs, and these cute rolls stuffed with coleslaw or whatever you wish…you will also find hot fried puri-white chonyache bhaje here. I tell Fatima who helps him run the eatery to make jowari bhakri and I will buy daily! It’s definitely the better option to white bread and puri…jowari and nachne bhakri or roti please, if you want your blood sugar and obesity problems to be gone with the wind!

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