THALI MEAL DEALS BEST IN SMALL ICONIC EATERIES…however the one pictured here is the Sweet Nation thali, it’s reasonably priced and the menu offers decent buys.

By Tara Narayan

NOT you my dears. I’m telling myself to ease up on eating out and buying home food from out — even if I patronize some of the most iconic eateries up and down town Panaji! But I find even the iconic eateries have become laid back somewhat and barely ready to being health-conscious when it comes to preparing their food to be healthy, wealthy and wise or so to speak. Nobody is going to cut back on the generous use of refined salt, sugar and oils and the hydrogenated fats which should be banned outright, if I may say so here.
This is a column I’ve been writing for the last 30 years plus, starting first in Mumbai, so my column has some pedigree okay; it moved from being just a coochie coo foodie column reviewing rave reviews for eateries and foodie folk (so that the ads would come in), to in recent years keeping in mind that what we put in our mouth by way of beverages and cooked and processed foods and what not sooner or later determines what we suffer from…diabetes, heart disease, cancer and in between a host of irritabilities to rob of one of sleep and peace of mind.
So, coming back to out, out, less and less eating out or buying home food, I must say with the years catching up with me and quickly varnishing energy levels – I’ve taken to buying the odd Udipi snacks from a decent eatery in town and sometimes one of the smaller eateries where I know something is worth buying. I know I will always get decent idli, dosa, even neer dosa at the Sheetal eateries …of course, amongst the Goan eaters I’m a regular at Café Real, Café Tato and Café Bhonsale, and Humyog where one may be found the most agreeable thali meal deal lunchtime.
Our thali meal deals are a unique service for aam aadmi in aam aadmi eateries and truly welcome – the thali meal deal may go very upmarket of course, but the basic thali meal deal at people’s eateries here and there will offer chappati/tandoori roti/puri, rice bowl, a dry sabzi, a gravy sabzi, a dal/oosal, curd, pickle, papad, chutney, bit portion salad of onion, tomato, lemon half, pinch of salt…in the old days. Now the pinch of salt is gone because cooks tend to like to salt their cooking overmuch and you may only taste salt in what you put in your mouth. There are diabolical reasons for this I’m sure or it’s just that we forgotten how we should be eating to be fighting fit.
One foreign doctor I follow pertinently observes that the healthcare industry no longer seek patients nowadays, it is primarily seeking customers. That’s the bottom-line. It is imperative we take stock of our eating and drinking lifestyle along with the attitudes we bring to life, so that we may at least go with a smile on one’s lips sooner or later, whenever it’s time to say goodbye cruel world.

A MINDFUL MOVEMENT TOWARDS HEALTH! At `KaiZen’ meaning slow down in Japanese or something like that. Discover this wellness cafeteria at Magson Towers in Panaji…menu offers my favorite “shot of immunity” amongst other agreeable things to energize and synergize body beautiful! On June 1, 2024 there was a crochet exhibition-cum-sale organized by Renee Kaur’s Mango House Trust; elsewhere is crochet lover Sangeeta Shetye who learns patience crocheting beautiful bags; also a glimpse of the gym offering pilate classes. There are also various health foods to buy here like caju and almond butters and sourdough bread. Everything to like and love!

But I’d like to note here that a humble thali meal deal at one of the Goan restaurants down town is eminently sharable between two, eat frugally. Honestly, I increasingly tend to favor thali meal deals to the extravaganza of buffet meals in the five-star hotels which add up to Rs1,000 plus, plus; while a thali meal deal in a homely eatery down town Panaji would be Rs90 to Rs130 or a bit more if you order asides like a portion of hot jalebi at say Sweet Nation – where they’re doing a thali meal deal these days, I don’t much care for their lachcha paratha but their puri are nicely savoury and the rest of it is richly agreeable but not over-agreeable if you know what I mean. It’s a very pretty Rajasthani brass thali service though and I love the service ware…sometimes the itsy bitsy chutney and pickle alongside are superlatively enticing. Check it out.
OF late I’ve been reading Australia’s Dr Barbara O’Neil’s FB posts on how to live on the straight and narrow path of staying healthy! She says things like drink a shot of grated ginger and lemon juice, celery and lemon juice, eat beetroot every day and has a host of tantalizing recipes simple and so tempting. No wonder in her 90s she looks like she is in her 40s…clearly she practices what she preaches, anyway she’s got a enormous fan mail. Follow her if you wish, she’s one of the best.
Talking of these so called healthy juice shots I don’t know why none of the health food places opening up Panaji offer them, they don’t even offer cut fruit and fruit and veggie juices? A Simply Salad salad bar I used visit for its arugula and chickpea salad has shut shop, a pity. Some places do offer water melon, orange, pineapple juice and there’re the Chaat Street fresh fruit sodas which I reckon are the best value for money. But last time here I asked the manager her why not also offer celery and lemon juice, beetroot and carrot juice, and so on? I don’t know where my friend of Fruitilicious has disappeared, he was the only one doing cut fruit and fruit-cum-veggies juices, but the shot idea has to catch on. Say fresh aonla juice shots, say golden turmeric and ginger shots, etcetera. Small quantity shots go a long way in renewal of energy in body beautiful or so I imagine!
GO to founder Prerna Khetrapal’s tranquil Kai Zen at Magson Towers. I had this most delicious Shot of Immunity there one morning – a seductive golden shot of turmeric, honey, lime and ginger (Rs100). Renee Kaur of the Mango House Trust is promoting crochet work for women who can do with some more money in their lives – the crochet work on exhibit and sale was superb, almost got myself one of the exquisite old-fashioned string bags except that the best along simpler lines had gone. Nothing left like the one crochet mistress Sangeeta Shetye (of Oman Airlines) had with her, she confided she’s been learning patience crocheting for years now, it’s the best thing to do if you want to learn patience. I couldn’t resist buying a loaf of sourdough bread made by Chef Debashish, with help from Purnendu Sasmal who’s always here on duty.
Met quite a few other people here with interesting views! Do you know there’s something called “asylum incubation for robotics”? Ask Prashant Yashpal and wife Simran if you meet up with them here, the couple have moved to Goa for a change of lifestyle. Which reminds me KaiZen comes with a brand new gym equipped to teach pilates – the latest fitness craze to hit capital city Panaji. Especially popular with the women with time on their hands.
Make time for pilates, my dears, my sister Mala Patel in Chicago stays trim doing pilates in her own private den set up with pilates equipment. I dare say KaiZen’s the best, Aman, the pilates facilitator here will even give you a free lesson to find out what it is about, if you ask of course. An important lesson in life to learn is to ask, the worse may not happen! Discover KaiZen if you haven’t yet.

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