Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Viva Viva Panjim!

When it’s dinner time, one of the best restaurants to get the Goan experience is the heritage home of Linda Aunty. Linda D’Souza is the proprietor of Viva Panjim, behind the Mary Immaculate School, on 31st January Road. Its slightly off the road, a small lane off 31st January Road takes you to the cheery venue. A board on the main road will help you find your way. Linda Aunty is always smiling, and the waiters are always helpful. The service can sometimes be painfully slow, but if you’re in a hurry, there’s no point going there anyway. Avoid sitting in the AC room, the best place to sit is outside, under the stars. Order your drink, ask what’s the catch of the day and order it rava fried. Ask the waiter for a bowl of red chutney on the side, which is the rechado masala paste (pronounced reshaad). Rechado masala can also be smeared on your fish and then fried, which is also good, but I tend to think it ruins the taste of the fish. If you want to try rechado fry, ask for mackerels rechado. Mackerels, being oily fish, have a bit of an odour of their own which is masked quite well with the masala. If you aren’t used to eating fish, however, be wary about the mackerel because it’s a bit of an acquired taste.
When I’m at Viva Panjim, there’s nothing I like better than a vodka lime cordial and some fresh red snapper (tamuso) rava fried. You can also have the calamari (squid), white snapper (morso) and crabs. Fried crabs always seem to absorb too much oil and so I’m not a big fan. I prefer crab masala in a thick coconut-onion gravy.
This is usually enough for me, but if you want the whole hog, as a main course the Chicken Xacuti (pronounced Shakoothi) is spicy and delicious. Xacuti is the most popular of Goan gravies – roasted onion and coconut is pasted along with a generous helping of garlic, cloves, peppercorns and coriander seeds. The meat is then cooked in the paste – upon cooking, the paste becomes a darkish brown and acquires a thick, creamy texture on account of the coconut. Xacuti is made with Chicken, Mutton and in its vegetarian avatar with kabuli chana, masoor, or (my favourite) monsoon mushrooms (almi) is called Thonak. The best accompaniment to Xacuti is Unno or Pao, which are brought piping hot to your table at Viva Panjim, almost straight out of the oven. The meat doesn’t seem to have been cooked in the Xacuti paste and that’s my only grouse against it, really.
For the people with cast iron stomachs, you can try a Vindaloo. Vindaloo is traditionally made from a paste of red chilies and vinegar – the red chilies are set to soak in the vinegar overnight and are then pasted on a stone. Spicy is an understatement. Ask for less gravy because there’s no way you’re going to eat that spice paste anyway. Vindaloo is best had with rice and lots and lots of water.
There’s never any rush at Viva Panjim, it opens real early (about 6pm) for dinner and it’s a great place to chatter away with old friends or sip a beer while reading a book.

7 comments:

Nigel said...

It's not 'unno or pao' as you wrote but 'undo' for bread pronounced more like 'oondo'

Lensman said...

This is some of the best food in Goa!
I've been there several times and I just have to eat there every time I'm in Goa.

Keep up the great food!

http://www.roshancrasta.com

Ezee123 said...

I so totally second the opinion that if it is Goan food...there is no food like that of Viva Panjim.

One has eaten throughout the length of the Goan coast and I guess the magic is in the authentic and genuine spices that Linda uses to cook it in her special way.

mauvinocabral said...

I visited this restaurant(Viva Panjim-Goa) ......i ate beef streak and mutton biryani with my friends ....but i forgot to tell them that i am allergic of ajinomoto(To make the Food Item sweet but it causes cancer ).......i ate lot....next day i was in hospitalized crying for life ....they put a hell lot of aginomoto.......which is very bad for health ........if you are smart don't go there....Food is very good but very dangerous.......... u will eat now and afterward you will repent...Take this is a advice ……these people cheat the local people and outsider to make money on their health……..Praise the Lord that i am still alive to tell the story …… Praise the Lord that i am still alive to tell the story ……

mauvinocabral said...

I visited this restaurant(Viva Panjim-Goa) ......i ate beef streak and mutton biryani with my friends ....but i forgot to tell them that i am allergic of ajinomoto(To make the Food Item sweet but it causes cancer ).......i ate lot....next day i was in hospitalized crying for life ....they put a hell lot of aginomoto.......which is very bad for health ........if you are smart don't go there....Food is very good but very dangerous.......... u will eat now and afterward you will repent...Take this is a advice ……these people cheat the local people and outsider to make money on their health……..Praise the Lord that i am still alive to tell the story …… Praise the Lord that i am still alive to tell the story ……

mauvinocabral said...

I visited this restaurant(Viva Panjim-Goa) ......i ate beef streak and mutton biryani with my friends ....but i forgot to tell them that i am allergic of ajinomoto(To make the Food Item sweet but it causes cancer ).......i ate lot....next day i was in hospitalized crying for life ....they put a hell lot of aginomoto.......which is very bad for health ........if you are smart don't go there....Food is very good but very dangerous.......... u will eat now and afterward you will repent...Take this is a advice ……these people cheat the local people and outsider to make money on their health……..Praise the Lord that i am still alive to tell the story …… Praise the Lord that i am still alive to tell the story ……

CK said...

"Dogs and indians not allowed....: .The british of the olden times were stupid to put up such a sign.... The folks at Viva Panjim achieve much the same by just looking through you as if you are not there.... The waiter looks through you, the owner looks through you and even the lizard on the wall looks through you as if you are not there :)
The first time we went, we actually expected the waiter to ask us whether we wanted water. After 5 minutes we asked for it. 15 minutes later, after many implorations, they finally took the order. 30 minutes later, they finally delivered it.
The prawns and the kingfish steak was divine, and all was forgiven.... So much so that we returned the next day. After 30 minutes of no one even looking our way, we had no other option but to get up and go to niyaaz, where they treated us to great food, and spoilt us silly.... :)
I will never be able to taste the wonderful concoctions of Viva Panjim in this lifetime, because I dont want to be humiliated again.... Perhaps, in the next generation, if I am born in a fairer avatar west of the ural mountains, I may be lucky enough to enjoy the food :)