Just off Chogm Road in Sangolda a bevy of bright Bouganvillas reach over a courtyard wall, nestling a hanging plaque. It reads:
A Flavour To Savour”
When one thinks of Goa, it is doubtful that the prospect of savouring Bengali food is the first thing to pop into anyone’s mind. At least that was before Mustard popped up in the sunshine state’s culinary scene.
At the heeding of his boss, the author of this article begrudgingly skipped a much-needed appointment with a cutlet pao, or two, to try out Goa’s new addition of Bengali and French fair - and to be honest, the idea felt a tad sacrilegious at first. It turned out the only things that happened to be sacrilegious were the strange groans and moans of gastronomic pleasure emitted by the author. Being proved wrong never felt so good.
A Dive Into The Deliciousness That Is Mustard
My deep appreciation for the restaurant see-sawed in the direction of the Bengali section of the menu. All that was had exceeded expectations tenfold, making it difficult to express my enjoyment of the food without using profanity. The French section was solid too, but paled to the culinary prowess behind the desi dishes.
The Smoked Fish was a traditional take on a Bengali dish that apparently was born on the Padma river aboard a steamer. In Mustard’s case, they used modern trends of plating to present this Bengali classic.
The filets of Chonak were smoked the traditional way with puffed rice, jaggery and husk, offering hints of mustard powder and oil. The fish was delightful right from its appearance to its taste. The array of pink filets cut away like soft butter, yet the texture was firm and far from mushy. Much to my contentment the fish flaked off with ease, and each morsel felt like it was melting in my mouth.
However, the Jholshano Mangsho, succulent chops of mutton ribs, still stole the show. The ribs were well-marinated in a nigella seed paste and then charcoal-grilled to a soft marrow-filled perfection. Mustard must have a phenomenal butcher, for these ribs were full of marrow and meat, but free of unwanted globs of fat. If a patron fails to suck the mutton bones dry, they deserve a one-way ticket down Mustard’s Portuguese-era well.
Despite catering to Bengali flavours, once again modern plating was used to convey tastes long-established for the Bengali palate.
The menu described the Crispy Fish with Ratatouille as “Mustard philosophy on a plate,” however this statement may have not been entirely accurate. Although the dish is indeed tasty, it failed to enter the lofty echelons where Mustard’s Bengali cuisine resides. The ratatouille could be served up in Provence, yet the boneless, deep fried rohu (freshwater carp) cooked in lime juice and garnished with Himalayan salt and rosemary, could not compete with the Smoked Fish.
This gap between the quality of these two particular fish dishes have nothing to do with a lack of expertise on the Chef’s part. The Crispy Fish just lacked the vision the Bengali dishes so proudly executed.
There were plenty of vegetarian options served at the restaurant, nevertheless, I thought it best to concentrate more on the fish dishes, which are popular staples in both Bengal and France. I did save room to sample the Cocktail Luchi with Aloo-Dum, served like a mini-taco platter.
The bite-sized puri holds a small scoop of tender and well-spiced potatoes as part of the Mustard touch. Thus the appetizer embodied the resounding reviews of the vegetarian food given by others who recommended I try out Mustard.
I shall leave you with the recommendation that a late afternoon lunch in the shade of Mustard’s courtyard is a real treat for those that like to spoil their taste buds.
Feature image via Mustard website.
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