You know those word association games people play where someone says one word and the other person immediately replies with the image that associates with that word in their mind? What comes to your mind if I say “Mustard” to you? My mind has always thrown up fields brimming with little golden yellow flowers in fields that stretch out as far as the eye goes. While I’ve never seen a mustard field for real, I’ve seen plenty of them in television programmes and photographs with articles about the mustard fields in Punjab, and of course Hindi films in the past that just love featuring them in the background for romantic scenes!
From now on though, the word “Mustard” will also bring up images of a lovely little restaurant of the same name here in Goa. Last week, my husband and I were at Mustard, a restaurant in the lovely village of Sangolda in Goa. If you’re not familiar with Goa, Sangolda is just outside Panaji/ Panjim, Goa’s capital, beyond Porvorim on the CHOGM Road.
A fine dining restaurant, Mustard serves classic Bengali and French cuisines, two seemingly very different styles of food. However, it is mustard that is the common thread that runs through both cuisines and features in almost all their dishes either as an ingredient or as a garnish. This makes it seem right to find the two cuisines co-existing amicably under the same roof, but cooked in separate dedicated kitchens.
The Bengali menu has been curated by Pritha Sen, a chef and food historian while the French side of the menu has been conceptualized by Chef Gregory Bazire.
The restaurant is housed in the backside of beautiful Indo-Portuguese house, the front of which is boutique home store called Freedom Tree. This means you walk right through the many rooms of the store and suddenly you’re right at the back in a charming and cosy restaurant which opens outdoors into an al fresco dining area and a small garden where they grow their herbs and other greens.
So we found ourselves seated in a corner of the restaurant with a view of the service desk and the rest of the room. We’re teetotallers so I ordered myself a fruit punch while my husband asked for his staple – a sweet lime soda while we waited for our appetizers. As usual, we decided to let the staff decide what to serve us from their vegetarian menu.
The menu at Mustard has quite a large selection of vegetarian dishes, both Bengali and French. We started with their Cocktail Luchi Aloo Dum served with Kashundi which is a spicy and tangy Bengali mustard sauce/relish.
Luchis are Bengali puris/ puffed fried bread made from flour. At Mustard, they’ve turned it into a bite-sized cocktail snack by wrapping it around another Bengali classic, the Aloo Dum which are soft cooked spiced potatoes. I think I could have lunched on these alone!
Then we had the Smoked Chhanna which was slices of soft and moist marinated cottage cheese smoked traditional style in a mixture of puffed rice, jaggery, and husk. While the texture of the Channa was delightful, I must say my untrained taste buds couldn’t quite appreciate the “smoky” flavour.
We were also served toasts of their in-house multigrain bread that’s made with wheat flour, bajri/ pearl millet, flax seed, sunflower seed, oats, barley, and molasses. I can rarely say no to bread and was more than happy with the bread which came with butter, yellow mustard and whole grain mustard pastes on the side.
Next we were served what was described to us the Jacket Potato Duo from their French menu. These turned out to be soft baked melt-in-the-mouth jacket potatoes with creamy potato and vegetable filling topped with melted Cheddar cheese on the top. It came with a white sauce which tasted like Béchamel sauce.
This was followed by some delicious Baked Aubergines with a basil-mustard dressing topped with feta crumble and a chunky tomato concasse̒
For the mains we had a mini Thali style serving of Rice with Aloo Jhinga Posto, Chholar Dhal, seasonal greens salad and a Bengali style sweet Tomato Chutney.
Aloo Jhinga Posto (Aloo = Potatoes, Jhinga = Ridge Gourd and Posto = Poppy Seeds) is another Bengali classic and favourite where the potatoes and ridge gourd are cooked with green chillies, poppy seed paste, spices and mustard oil.
Chholar Dhal is a Bengali festive lentil preparation of yellow gram lentils cooked spices till thick and garnished with toasted coconut.
I have always been a bit hesitant (call it unadventurous if you must) about Bengali cuisine because of its heavy use of mustard as a spice and mustard oil. It can be a bit of an acquired taste for a palate not used to it but I do believe I have finally acquired a taste for it.
We were quite full by now but a meal is not quite over until dessert has been had, so my husband and I decided to share the desserts.
The French kitchen produced a really creamy and delightful Crème Brulee and I was very pleasantly surprised by how I couldn’t find a hint of “egginess” in it.
The Bengali kitchen offering was Bhapa Doi which is creamy steam cooked (sometimes baked) sweetened yogurt dish. It was a good way to end a most enjoyable meal.
So if you’re in and around Panaji/ Panjim or anywhere in Goa for that matter and have some time to spare, do drop by Mustard for an authentic Bengali food experience or a French one. They’re open for lunch and dinner.
I would of course suggest that it might be a good idea to stick to one cuisine or the other to enjoy it to the best but feel free to order as you please because you’re not likely to be disappointed.
Address : House no. 78 Mae de Deus Vaddo, Chogm Road, Sangolda, Bardez 403511, Goa.
Please note : The information in this post was current at the time of writing it, and may have changed since.
Disclaimer : This review was done on an invitation from Mustard. Due judgement has been applied and I have done my best to remain objective and unbiased while writing this review. This review is my personal opini
on so please exercise your own discretion.