By Joe Mascarenhas
With the stock markets on a roller coaster ride, spiralling inflation and the global turmoil, one has to be wise and get street smart. You may be wondering what am I getting at, but let me take you back in a time warp to when you were kids...what was it that really caught your fancy then?
It certainly was the ‘chatpata’ type of fast food available on the streets and what is now termed ‘street’ food. One now has the freedom to choose a variety of fare like chaats, pav bhaji, butta, kathi rolls, dosas, shawarmas and mithais from attractive stalls in the sophisticated ambience of the Café Azul at the Cidade de Goa.
One just wonders if a starred hotel can give you the true flavour of street food. So the chefs were put to the test. To get all perked up, start off with the aam ka panna that is served chilled and made of raw mango and jaggery - refreshingly different.
Just pace yourself to take this journey one step at a time - one can savour the fine flavours and the blend of spices artistically done by culinary wizards.
Moving on to a brief stop at the chaat stall where you can have a ‘gupshup’ while you have gol guppa or pani puri. It’s all in the pani. It has the right blend of spices served in crispy puries filled with lentils. The samosa chole is worthy of mention, as it has spiced chickpea and samosas drizzled with yoghurt and a sprinkling of pomegranate that give it an appetising look and great taste. The dahi batata chaat made with spiced potatoes topped with yoghurt, tamarind and mint chutney is not to be missed. Control yourselves for the gastronomic journey is just beginning.
One of the favourite stalls is the pav and more where it is the ‘more’ that is interesting. Besides the regular bhaji one gets to experience the prawn balchao - shrimps pickled in red chilli, jaggery and toddy vinegar served with mini pavs liberally buttered. Don’t forget to add the chopped onions and a twist of lime...and forget the calories, it is awesome.
In the monsoons with the wind blowing and the coconut palms swaying one cannot miss the butta corner where corn on the cob is cooked at a live station over charcoal and spiced to your choice with chilly garlic, kothmir, chaat masala and black pepper - just divine!
Can one resist the Dosa Hut? The chilly cheese dosa has oodles of grated cheddar cheese and chopped chillies in savoury crepes made of fermented rice and lentil batter and served with sambhar, coconut chutney and mulagapadi commonly called gunpowder. There are also variations like prawn masala dosa or the kheema dosa. The combos are really mind blowing.
For those who have a healthy appetite there are the kathi rolls and the gosht dum biryanis. The spiced chicken kebabs wrapped in the roomali roti and served with mint chutney is to be recommended.
Please keep room for the Mithai Mart that serves the famous malai kulfi with falooda (chilled rice noodles), and the exotic malpua with rabdi and a variety of ice creams.
So while the coconut palms sway in the torrential rains, let caution go to wind, be street smart and treat yourselves to some delicious ‘chatpata food’ at the Café Azul.