Goan food! Yet another cuisine that I was keen to get my teeth into – this small west Indian state is known for its cuisine that’s heavily influenced by the Portuguese and a large number of Goan Catholics means that pork features heavily. Pork? Oh yes. I do love pork curry. I joined Mr Noodles, Rahul (our Goan friend!), Kay, and Wen and family one night to try the Goan food on offer at Ma Goa in Putney. While we were there first there at 7pm, the place soon became packed – bookings are essential.
While we waited for everyone to arrive, a selection of most of the starters on the menu was ordered. The Balchao & Sanna (£5.55) were shrimps in a tomato based pickling sauce (the balchao) and a Goan steamed bread (the sanna). These were made with tiny shrimps as is usual but it seemed a bit odd to be eating this as a starter and sure enough, our Goan friend told us that this is normally a side dish. Still, it wasn’t bad but more sanna would have been nice to sop it all up.
Sorpotel (£5.65) was lambs liver, kidney and pork belly cooked in a spicy sauce. It was delicious and probably the only way I’m happy to eat liver and kidney – with lots of spices!
I was very keen to try the Goa Chorizo (£6.50), a spicy pork chorizo served stir fried with potato and onion. It came in a thick curry-like paste (I’m not describing it very well) and was quite moreish. I can never turn down chorizo and certainly not a spicy Goan chorizo.
Not Goan but still tasty was the Dahi Puri (£4.95). They’re big bursting bubbles of fried gram flour filled with potato, coriander, tamarind, yoghurt and green chlli and topped with fried sev, fried gram flour threads.
Is there any way of making photos of curry look good? We ordered a lot of them (among other things) for our mains and I’m presenting them in order from ok to fantastic.
Nariyal Gosht (£9.75) was described as lamb in a dry masala and I had hopes of finding something like a Goan rendang. Instead, it was a thick generic curry with much too much dessicated coconut mixed through which was unpleasant to chew.
Sabzi Amo-tik (£8.25) was going to be our vegtable dish – mixed vegetables in a traditional Goan hot and sour sauce. Again, there was nothing to distinguish this curry dish from any other curry house dish except for the fact that it was all vegetables. A little hot, a little sour, it was alright.
I was also excited to try a Porco Vindaloo (£9.75). I have no idea what constitutes a proper vindaloo but our Goan diner wasn’t convinced by this version. Still, it was fine if a little unexciting.
A Gallina Xhacutti (£8.95) was chicken on-the-bone (though I don’t remember any bones) in a curry flavoured with ground sesame seed, fresh ground coconut and peanuts. It was tasty though still not one that stood out.
Best of the curries was the Goa Prawn Kodi (£11.95), a dish supposedly found in many beach hut restaurants in Goa. The tangy curry went well with the prawns though the prawns were a tad bit overcooked.
Surprisingly, the best two dishes were non-curries. The Seafood Biryani (£15.50) was excellent and filled with salmon, prawns, mussels, squid and crab. It was gently spiced (in a good way) and had lots of delicious fried onions.
My favourite of all the dishes we ordered was the Gallina Cafrael (£11.95), a slowed cook quarter chicken with potatoes and a fresh green masala. It didn’t look like much but the chicken was exceptionally moist (even the breast) and yes, the masala did taste freshly made.
We had a few side dishes too. When I asked what their Daal of the Day (£4.25) was, all the waiter could reply was “Yellow.” Luckily for me, this yellow daal was absolutely gorgeous and so full of flavour thanks to use of a delicious tarka.
Okra was stir-fried with mustard seeds, green peppers and onions (£4.75) and was fine, similar to what you get at northern Indian restaurants.
A selection of Naans also went down well – plain (£2.45), garlic and chilli (£2.75) and sweet with coconut and chopped nuts (£3.25). Likewise, the rices were excellent – here we had a basmati rice with saffron and cashew nuts (£3.85) and a coconut and curry leaf rice that came with the Gallina Cafrael.
We were pretty stuffed but as usual I’m never one to leave without having dessert, especially a dessert that’s particular to Goa. Their Bibique (£5.00) (also known as bebinca) was labelled on their menu as being made by their friend Mr Santos. Whoever Mr Santos is, he did a great job on this layered cake made with flour, sugar, egg yolks, ghee and coconut milk. It was fantastically delicious and fantastically rich. I wish the portion had been a bit bigger!
It was a very good introduction to Goan food and it’s whetted my appetite for more. I do recommend their nimbu pani (spiced lemonade). Thanks for the great evening, everyone!
242-244 Upper Richmond Road
London SW15 6TG