Sometimes a gal just has to get out of the city. And at just three hours away from Doha, with its European heritage, spectacular beaches and yes, tasty food Goa is the perfect quickie escape.
I gathered up the gang and headed to Goa last weekend, in search of good food, cheap spa treatments and a dust free environment. Goa is one of those destinations that can truly surprise you. It’s kind of India Lite.
This was my fourth trip to Goa and unbelievably my 12th to India. They should give me residency or a lifetime supply of dosa anyway. Fresh off a 5am flight and a sprint to Immigration to avoid a charter flight of Russian package tourists, the first thought in our minds was food. And lots of it.
Goa is unique in an already cosmopolitan country. The sole Portuguese outpost in India for 500 years, you can still see the European influence in its food and architecture. Our initial culinary stop was Mum’s Kitchen, famous amongst locals and visitors. The helpful waiter lured us into trying the firey Goan version of the Vindaloo (spelt Vindhalo in Goa).
Quite often hot and spicy dishes find their actual taste overwhelmed by the heat. But this was different. You could taste the layers of flavors including the smokey paprika.
Goan cuisine take its influences from its history and location. Unlike other areas of India, you will find beef and pork but also seafood, coconut and fruit like pineapple.
Goa is so laid back it’s almost horizontal and is one of the country’s most tourist friendly areas. The Portuguese influence is everywhere – from the food to the crumbling churches and street names.
It can be hard believe you are in India…
We missed a trick and visited on the edge of the monsoon, the weather was humid and we even saw rain. But this didn’t detract from the fecund beauty of the place.
Our hotel, Grand Hyatt Goa ensured we were well fed, watered and ferried around the city in good time. We were invited to dinner at the pan Indian restaurant Chulha on our first night. With a menu that spans the length and breadth of the country, our instructions were “bring us everything”.
And they did. Highlights of the feast included a chicken braised with cashew nuts and figs, which was moreish and creamy.
A grilled chicken dish, marinated in cream was also a favorite. Perfectly cooked and highlighting everything that is great about Indian food – fresh, clean and full of flavor.
Silenced by the food, the table also unanimously endorsed the tandoori jingha – or tandoor prawns spiced with cardomon, the selection of breads and the daahl.
And of course, there was cheese or more specifically, paneer done tandoori style with yoghurt and spices.
A table of savory fiends, we were even tempted by the selection of Indian desserts.
I haven’t traveled much this year for many reasons. I did feel myself missing home or Doha on several occasions. But I was glad to get out of the city for a couple of days with good friends. Who can ask for more than that?