Regional Indian cuisine is having its moment in the sun. A beacon in this movement is Goan chef Avinash Martins, who has built a name for himself with his restaurant Cavatina in Benaulim Goa. His food as he calls it is ‘Reimagined Goan’ is served in a contemporary tasting menu style.
Martins’ aim is clear; he wants people to know that there is no one style of generic Goan food. It is an amalgamation of Indo Portuguese, Saraswat Hindu and tribal cuisine. “It’s so diverse and yet comforting. I would want the people to experience the richness of Goa’s culinary tradition,” he adds.
“I would say the food in Goa changes from taluka to taluka! For example, Xacuti from the South of Goa becomes Shaghodi in Pernem (North),” Martins continues, and therein lies the difference. It is the smallest of differentiators such as the ratios in spices and the use of local chilis. These are also the exactly the differences that wants to showcase via the limited-edition menu at JW Marriott Sahar.
Executive chef Dane Fernandes convinced Martins to come to Mumbai and give a taste of his modern Goan food to the locals as part of the first edition of Gourmet Travelogues at JW Café, JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai. “Chef Avinash’s use of local ingredients brings to life the essences of Indian farm-to-table cooking making it the best restaurant in Goa. Collaborating with him has given me an in-depth insight of all the possibilities and hidden secrets the Goan cuisine has to offer,” Fernandes explains of The Goan chapter.
The limited-edition menu uses local ingredients such as kokum, Goan vinegar, black jaggery, Goan chorizo, xacuti masala, recheado masala, jackfruit, cashew, and more. The menu itself features dishes such as mutton mit miren, mackerel beetroot cutlets, tambdi bhaji spanakopita, rassa jackfruit cafreal, gaunta sansav, chouriço pulao, pork feijoada, lamb paya tonnak amongst an array of other delicacies.
Both chefs are Goan so synergies were obvious. Fernandes has roots in north Goa and Martins in the south. “Combining the expertise of chef Avinash with mine to bring together the distinct flavour profiles of the region is what formed the basis of the limited-edition menu,” says Fernandes. “Even though our dishes vary basis on the North Goan and South Goan style of cooking the aim of this culinary series is to showcase the best signature dishes to the people of Mumbai.” adds Martins.
Talking about Gourmet Travelogues, Fernandes says, “The idea of Gourmet Travelogues came about to explore the hyper regional cuisines of India and showcase them for our guests. It is our small initiative to bring to light the highly ignored parts of India's culinary history. To move beyond the anglicized ideas of 'butter chicken' and 'curry' and transcend beyond the boundaries of what is summarised as Indian cuisine.” For the executive chef it is about discovering the fascinating backstories behind some of the most beloved dishes and food cultures. “This knowledge binds together culture, heritage and history to the food and drink of its people. Starting off in Goa from where I belong and where I have grown up, I want to showcase my culture and heritage,” he adds.
For the next edition of Gourmet Travelogues, Fernandes is looking east: “We discover the local flavours of the North Eastern part of India and transverse into the land of the seven sisters and one brother.”
Gourmet Travelogues: The Goa Chapter is on till July 3, 2022 at JW Café, JW Marriott Sahar, Mumbai for dinner. The buffet is priced at INR 2,600 plus taxes.