It’s a fair question to ask any “fine dine” restaurant in Goa, capsule given the plethora of establishments claiming the label: I know I can dine but are you really fine? So that’s the question I had when I first learned about a restaurant for “fine dine” Goan cuisine – something which is, somewhat inexplicably, not particularly common in Goa. Who really associates Goan cuisine with a fancy restaurant anyway? Isn’t it meant to be savoured under a whirring fan, alongside office workers chowing down with their hands, or, for those lucky enough to have access to one, a Goan mother’s kitchen?
Enter Mum’s Kitchen, a fine-dining restaurant serving up real Goan food that, at the end of the day, really is fine. Don’t come to this highly appropriately named establishment on the Miramar river road if you’re not willing to dish out a pretty paisa or two. A single “fine” curry can set you back Rs 500 or more. But the portions are generous and the fare is worth its price.
Is the fish curry rice hugely superior to what you get at the beloved hangouts in Panjim that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Probably not. But the big portions, the quality of the produce, the care that goes into the recipes and preparation, and the heart-warming, nostalgia-provoking selection of food make Mum’s Kitchen a not-to-be missed culinary experience for anyone seeking to experience local cuisine sans chipping wall paint, a less-than-ideal carb-to-protein ratio, or the occasional fly.
Owners Suzette and Rony Martins started out their venture as a multi-cuisine restaurant only to realise they were underestimating the desires of locals and visitors alike – that the market could indeed support a high-end restaurant serving up Goan specialties prepared using tradition methods (another rarity in Goa). It was then that they decided to start a full-fledged Goan cuisine restaurant in its pure form.
The ambience at Mum’s is infused with Goan tradition, like the earthen pot used traditionally to store cool water. Soft Konkani music and not very bright lights help complete the picture, along with a pleasant garden outside replete with a fish pond.
The well-categorised menu features prominent Goan dishes including xit-koddi (rice and curry), hooman (prawn curry), caldean (light coconut based curry), crab xec-xec (spicy cury) and prawns butter garlic. For starters, a stuffed crab is a good choice. It is prepared in mild spicy brown masala and goes on well with a glass of beer. For the main course try the xit-koddi with prawn xec xec and if you are a pork lover then go for the pork vindalo.
Other non–vegegtarian items worth trying are Chicken cafrael prepared in green masala; and deep fried pork rib chops served with spicy sauce.
In the veg. section one can try the bimbli uddamethi, a nice yellow curry with pieces of bimbli (a sour fruit) and chillies, which gives it a fine tangy flavour. For dessert, the bebinca is a must.
One issue with Mum’s Kitchen – unfortunately an affliction shared by many establishments – is consistency. You can’t rely on the food to be fantastic every visit, as it suffers from ups and downs. Overall, however, I give Mum’s Kitchen a high rating. And judging from their lunch and dinner crowds, so do a lot of people.
The Big Draw: Traditional Goan food without grunge
Price: Dinner for two likely to set you back Rs 2,000 or more