Column: Seafood, Choris Pao And Nostalgia

(Please note: This is my fortnightly column that was published in The Goan on Saturday)

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I have a friend who goes home quite often. Oh yes, she is from Fatorda, Goa and works at a law firm in Mumbai. Well, what has this got to do with the price of fish, anyway? Umm.. Not the price actually, but fish has everything to do with this conversation. Every time she goes home, her mum faithfully sends me either a bottle of balchao (spicy prawn pickle) or molho (fish pickle). No words can explain how much I love this Goan speciality. So even if I’m stuck with dal and rice for dinner, this fish pickle partially makes up for what I’m missing by not being in Goa.

I’m not the only Goan in Mumbai who craves for Goan cuisine. My friends think I’m silly when I term eggs and fish as vegetarian food. Every Lent, being a Goan catholic, I abstain from non-veg food, but eggs and fish are considered as veg. And there are no arguments about that. Sssshhhhh!

Anyway, last Sunday I behaved like someone who returned from a land that was struck by famine. It was my parish feast. In the evening, among all the stalls that were selling chaat, tandoori chicken, desserts and other snacks lay a counter with sorpotel. If you know what I mean, you will get the famine connection and you will also get an idea of what happened next. Yes, I stuffed myself. Like I had an option! I’m never alone at such occasions. My Goan and Manglorean friends are my best buddies.

Recently, there was a fish festival organised by the Maharashtrian fisher folks. Of course, I went to the festival. It happens every year, but this was my first time. I started getting crazy looking at the amount of mouth-watering deliciously cooked seafood. There was not one, or two, or three counters. There were over 40! I was getting seduced by this delicious fish. Again, I stuffed myself and didn’t care about who was staring at me. Despite enjoying the food, my friends and I continuously debated on whether this food was better than Goan recipes.

There’s no doubt that we get to taste a lot of cuisines here in Mumbai. But the moment someone talks about seafood, no one can curb the nostalgia. And when such situations arise, we just hail an auto rickshaw and head straight to a Goan restaurant in Mumbai. I know what you’re thinking. Yes, there are a lot of Goan restaurants in this city. Let me keep that for next time. I will write about the different food they make. Not forgetting the Choris Pao. Some generous soul really feels sorry for us — Goans in Mumbai.

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