Mustard, Penha de Franca, Goa

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Our meal at Mustard not only made us fall in love with Bengali food but also gave us insight to the concept that is unique and very much needed in a melting pot such as Goa. Mustard specializes in Bengali and French cuisine. Although Goa has it’s fair share of French restaurants, combining it with a regional cuisine is a brilliant idea. Mustard introduces some really authentic flavours and the rich culture that is not fully explored in Goa.

It was a pleasure meeting Poonam Singh, the co-owner of Mustard, during our meal. She shared with us her vision and how the restaurant came into being. Mustard has always been associated with Bengali as well as French cuisine and that common factor binds both worlds. And this has been beautifully translated in their menu. With two separate kitchens functioning seamlessly, the variety of flavours and dishes that are churned out speak volumes of the contribution made by the chefs who handle each kitchen.

We also had the opportunity to meet Chef Pritha Sen, who is a renowned chef, and the mastermind behind the elaborate Bengali menu. Her experience as a food historian is vast and she’s got a deep rooted knowledge of Bengali cuisine. She sort of took us back in time narrating the history of Bengali cuisine and how different eras and circumstances have influenced it. And the food revealed her passion to serve this interesting cuisine in an innovative and creative way touching the hems of pure fine dine experience effortlessly.

Chef Gregory Bazire runs the French kitchen. He brings his expertise channeling innovation and simplicity to let you experience fresh and classic European cuisine at it’s best. We tried a few French dishes that were truly exceptional. It be unfair to pick our favourite between both the menus.

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We loved the décor; it is perfect for a romantic date. They share their space with Freedom Tree (The home décor store), hence a lot of installations and pieces are from them. It adds to the warmth and cozyness. The colors are light aquamarine and white with hints of pink. They have an outdoor garden space that looks like a picture taken out of a fairytale. Very dreamy! They also have a community table which is ideal for those who are not shy of making new friends. Interestingly, the micro-greens that are used as garnish, are grown in the same garden. They’ve also got live music every Wednesday; we love their choice of artists. Vamsee Krishna played the day we dined there and he did an amazing job with his primarily acoustic set.

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The Food. We started off with Tentul Joler Sherbet, an in-house mock-tail shot made out of tamarind, flavoured with honey and mint. It’s best for a hot sunny day and helps digestion. Do not miss trying the Mustard Specials, their in-house concoctions.
Pritha ensured we had the best of both the menus so we started off with Smoked Fish. We loved how every dish has a story behind it, she explained how it came into being, and how it is made. The fish is marinated in mustard powder and mustard oil, and smoked in a traditional way with puffed rice, jaggery and husk. We were in awe of how simple ingredients used in a certain way could do so much to a dish. Served on banana leaf, the fish looked absolutely stunning. It was cooked to perfection. Smokey, tender and delicious! Loved how the presentation is minimal yet striking. This was just a start to an amazing evening at Mustard.

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We were then served the Prawn Cutlet. A crumb fried, butterflied and lightly marinated prawn, served with Kashundi or fermented mustard sauce. It is mentioned in the menu that this dish was made in the Bengali households during the British Raj and the fermented mustard sauce was used as a substitute for Tartare Sauce. We loved how the prawn cutlet was crunchy and fresh. The mustard sauce added the perfect zing; it was perfect.

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Then we had the Dimer Chop; a new entrant in the Jalkhabhar section of the menu. This famous Bengali street food, also called Dimer Devil, is made with hard boiled egg halves covered with potato mixture and crumb fried; again, served with mustard sauce. We liked the fact that the eggs were not over cooked; the yolk didn’t have a grey lining, so thumbs up for that. It tasted yum. Next, we had the Shammi Kebab. Made with ground mutton and flavoured with fragrant spices, this kebab just melted in our mouths. Served with mint chutney and onion rings, it was beautifully made and tasted really great. It was interesting to learn how Bengali cuisine has evolved with its influences from the British Raj, the Europeans and the Nawabs.

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After the appetizers from the Bengali menu, we sampled a few from the French menu. We started off with some warm crusty multigrain bread served with butter and two delicious mustards that were made in-house. It was brilliant and well made; the pungent characteristic in the mustard was well balanced and it didn’t have an unpleasant hit. The grainy mustard was sweet and we enjoyed it with a couple of slices of bread and a little butter.

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We tried BBQ Prawns on Fritters; grilled prawns beautifully flavoured with Thyme and Rosemary, served on a sweet corn fritters finished with a spicy, sweet and sour pineapple chutney garnished with toasted sesame seeds. The flavours were well balanced, loved how light the corn fritters were, and they added body to the whole dish, giving you a feel of a proper BBQ night with every bite. Next was Chicken Scaloppini, thin slices of chicken marinated in Dijon mustard pan-fried and served with long zucchini strips, finished with a mustard pesto dressing. It was nice. 🙂

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Our main course was an authentic Bengali Thaal served with a modern twist. The square white plate with just a strip of banana leaf and all the dishes served one after the other did more than just add vibrance to the table. The platter looked beautiful and every dish was made with such unquestionable finesse that only a true perfectionist could get what the chef accomplished that night. We were awestruck. Pritha passionately described the courses and how and in which order an item on the platter is meant to be eaten. The order of how the food is served is very important in Bengali cuisine and each dish is to be eaten separately with a little rice. The first item is the rice, which traditionally is served with ghee and salt. Then comes Shukto, which is a semi dry preparation. We were served Red Shards with peanuts. Then comes the lentil preparation, we were served a thick Cholar Dal garnished with desiccated coconut, it was so fragrant and soulful. Followed by Doi Begun and Aloo Jhinga Poshto, the most loved and relished part of every Bengali meal before the meats. We were served light fluffy Lucchis and Karaisutir Kochuri or Peas Puris that went extremely well with all the dishes that were served. Bengalis relish proteins like fish, chicken and lamb after this. We were served Chingri Maachher Malaikari, a golden yellow curry with King Prawns simmered in coconut milk and fragrant spices. We also had Kosha Mangsho, Bengal’s best known mutton curry and the star of any Bengali feast. Kosha Mangsho means “cooked in its own juices”, and it was cooked in mustard oil with onions, cardamom, cinnamon and clove. It was magical. We had an awesome time savouring these delectable flavours of Bengal.

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Dessert was Bhapa Doi and Crème Brûlée. It was the first time that we tried Bhapa Doi, we love Mishti Doi, but this steamed version stole our hearts with it’s luscious texture. The Crème Brûlée was good too, we were left stuffed and smiling as it had been a wonderful experience all along. We truly enjoyed our time at Mustard and recommend this place to all those who want great food, lovely ambience and excellent service. Would like to mention that the staff are trained immaculately to ensure that every guest is attended to, loved how they were positioned perfectly to ensure that every guest is at their line of sight to ensure prompt service. Mustard have great music on Wednesdays, so don’t miss it. We loved this place and recommend every food lover to visit Mustard when they are in Goa.

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