“Almost anything is edible with a dab of French mustard on it. ”
— Nigel Slater
When it comes to getting the taste of global food in India, nobody can deny, that Goa is the place. The sun, the sand & the beaches make it a favourite destination for travel lovers in India. Goa has been one of my most favourite destination when it comes to travelling within India. Having travelled for 12 times now, I can only imagine spending my retirement life in a villa by the beach (okaaaay… day dreaming..!!).
Everytime I step on the Goan plains, I get intoxicated (no, not with the alcohol) with the thoughts of trying something new on my plate. Being born bengali, my quest for finding a bengali food never ends be it’s Kashmir or Kanyakumari. So the quest remained in Goa too when I visited last year during my birthday (It’s 16th of April, incase you wanna treat me) as it coincides with Bengali New Year too. Very few names popped up as suggestions among them was Mustard. Though I couldn’t make it on that visit but it was on my must do list since then but failed in every visit afterwards due to packed schedules/invites. So when I was planning by trip to Goa on January this year, I made up mind to sneak into Mustard with two of my foodie companions.
I started my research and got in touch with Pritha Sen (I have truly admired her since I met her in Hyderabad in 2015 for the Goalondo Steamer popup with Nabanno). She was very helpful and agreed to get me hosted for a dinner. As we all know, Mustard, in all its forms, is immediately associated with both Bengali and French cuisine. Hence, Mustard Goa brings together the best of the West and the East. Thus also introducing Goa to her first ever menu of authentic Bengali delicacies. Bengali cuisine definitely has some French connection otherwise who would have imagined me to find a bengali eatery in the erstwhile French colony in Pondicherry.
On an evening of January, I finally landed in Mustard and was welcomed with warm smiles. It is nothing less than love at first sight. We settled down in a cozy corner and Chef Abhimanyu Sen came down with the menu which was set for us today. I couldn’t be more happy for the reasons you will know shortly…
As we waited, explored the history of Mustard. It is a brainchild of Shilpa Sharma and Poonam Singh. After successful careers in retail and hospitality spanning over decades, Shilpa and Poonam decided to give shape to their shared passion for food and providing unique experiences to Goa. Pritha Sen, a renowned chef and food historian, has curated the Bengali menu. French chef, Gregory Bazire, brought his expertise to create a menu of Continental food that offers the comfort of old favourites while also innovating to delight you with his creations. The food at Mustard is prepared in two different kitchens and by two different teams preparing two different cuisines (quite a double delight).
The food can always make you impatient and hence I lingered around soaking in the beautiful & clean decor which can take you back to medieval age. Lots of blue and white makes it very eyes soothing. The furnitures & crockery used is quite classy. They have been carefully curated to ensure it matches the taste of everyone who visits them.
By this time, we were served the mocktails and table snacks, Fried roots (potato chips) and Cheese biscuit with broccoli stem. It appeared like macarons filled with healthy portion of cheese and rolled on chopped broccoli stems. The biscuits had their crispness intact and so did it keep our hunger for another portion of it.
While out stomach was already on rage, Chef Abhimanyu Sen came down to spend some time with us and explain about the stringency & standards followed at Mustard. The diversity of their patrons range from locals to of travelers from India & abroad.
By this time we had the starters plated on the table. Cocktail luchi aloo dum was such such a welcome change as we were craving after some heavy continental fare in Goa for 5 days. Those who doesn’t fill up their tummy with traditional luchi aloo dum, this is quite an alternative. It comes in bite sizes and can be paired with a drink. If not more exotic, next came the Maacher Chop and it almost transported us back to Kolkata. Evenly shaped and evenly spiced stuffing, and paired with kasundi, it was a bliss.
As we were getting our adda done, we got transported back to French promenade with the Crunchy Veg Millefeuille. Though its traditionally made into desserts, this variation filled with exotic vegetables was not less delicious. The Barbecue Prawn Fritters deep fried and tossed in the tangy sauce with a dash of lime will linger in your taste buds for a long long time. However, this was not enough joy came the Til tel kathi, which by no means by its name would anyone be able to judge the dish. It is a risky take for a food joint to name a dish like that which is a must-try. The succulent morselfs of pork (Oink Oink!), marinated and soaked and roasted in til (sesame) oil along with chunks of pineapple. They were so melt in the mouth, we could barely take them till the mouth.
We were solving the ‘half empty half full’ puzzle for our tummy, when the Chef advised that we cleanse it with some Chilled cucumber latte and get ready for the mains galore. Though we came prepared but was a little petrified (well not really Harry Potterish) for a while. We hinted them to keep the portions minimal to avoid any food wastage.
The ambiance was so emancipating, I took a stroll around to get a bit lighter (how wishful of me). My fellow foodies whistled me as the food already arrived. We had Maacher Paturi (boneless fish marinated in mustard and wrapped with banana leaf before baking in oven), Mochar Ghonto (Finely chopped Banana flower cooked with grated coconut and peanuts), Prawns Malai Curry (Prawns cooked in coconut milk) all infront of us. The paturi gave us the flavour to the place instantly, Mustard. Each of these mains were served with rice, a bowl of lentil soup, a side and chutney. I couldn’t have complained more eating Bengali food in the heart of India’s party capital.
If that was not all for my bengali soul, came the all time favourite, Luchi – Kosha Mangsho combo with all its glory. Generous pieces of mutton slow cooked in a gravy in its own moisture. Giving a French connection to us was the Dijon stuffed chicken breasts, a right type for the healthy meal.
We thought we were done until the Bengalis and the French came together to say ‘au revoir’ with sweet something with Badamer bhapa sondesh & Crème brûlée. Both the desserts tasted differently from usual. The fun of breaking the hard caramel over rich custard is something, I bet, everyone enjoys.
This is one experience, I probably would cherish a long long time. It is rare that you visit a place and get a food that connects your soul. I may be missing home after this meal but definitely had to agreed, Mustard has the punch!
We were lucky to have the presence of Atul Sikand, founder of Sikandalous Cuisine also dining on a different table. I was informed that they are up soon in Mumbai too which will be quite a delish of culinary jugalbandi in the tinsel town.
*The visit was by invitation from the business owners. The food & beverages were on the house. However, the review is unbiased and based on the true experience.
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