A Vegetarian's Guide To Goa
Condé Nast Traveller India|February - March - April 2021
There’s more to experimenting with vegetarian fare than butter paneer and chilli potato, as is clear at these 25 hotspots in our sunshine state.
Krutika Behrawala

With its choris sausages and beef curries, Goa is a carnivore’s paradise. The flipside of this is the notion that the state has little to offer vegetarians. But Goa’s food landscape is getting greener, with a growing tribe of mindful eaters and vegans flocking to its shores. There’s something for every vegetarian traveller, from regional Indian cuisines to international fare.

North

MOJIGAO

For a feast in the forest

Set apart from the crowded beach-shack scene of north Goa, Mojigao is an oasis of solitude with groves of pink ginger flowers and prime conditions for a digital detox (the network’s sketchy). The 1.5-acre eco-village—with six cottages and a yoga shala—is managed by Israeli owner Moshe Inbar and his wife Anastasia, who run two Artjuna cafés, here and in Anjuna. Inbar grew up eating a lot of vegetarian food, and this is what gets preference on a menu full of salads, juices and raw foods. You’ll find Artjuna favourites like the signature boreka (cheese, mushroom and spinach puff pastry), a Mediterranean thali of hummus, tahini, and baba ganoush with homemade pita, and excellent coffee. Stay back for tapas evenings in the wilderness: these mindful eating experiences include dishes like blue cheese arancini and mashed yam with tomato sauce. mojigao.com

KEFI CAFÉ & BISTRO

For Lebanese fare with an international touch

Kefiis a Greek word describing a state of bliss, and it’s an apt name for this oasis of calm in Assagao, with comfy indoor and outdoor sections. Kefi Café & Bistro offers a friendly vibe in an idyllic setting, and a Mediterranean menu that’s pure joy for vegetarians. Except for a tuna melt, every dish is plant-based, and many reflect owner Tony D Dewan’s childhood in Beirut. You’ll find an armchair escape to Lebanon via sesame-flecked falafel, fire-roasted aubergine rolls, a Levantine platter, maghmoura (slow-cooked chickpea, tomato, and aubergine stew), and the lentil-andrice dish mujadara. A section of international menu offerings includes Hawaiian pineapple rice, vegan meatballs xacuti, and Mexican chipotle. A wellstocked bookshelf and a stack of board games are further sources of kefi. kefigoa.com

SAPPADU—THE WEEKEND POP-UP

For a traditional Tamil meal

Sappadu, the eight-month-old lockdown baby of Anjuna-based couple Anuj and Priya Shah, brings the rare taste of a traditional, vegetarian Tamil meal to the Anjuna-Vagator party belt. The Shahs started Sappadu because Anuj, who used to live in Matunga, Mumbai, craved south Indian food. Their kitchen is run by Gauri, a cook from Nagercoil. Wholesome meals are served in an open-air setting adorned with kolam art and marigold garlands (Priya is an interior designer from Ahmedabad). Carnatic music fills the air as a dozen items appear on your banana leaf, from rasam (with pineapple, pomegranate, and plum versions) and sambar, to a spiced potato roast, okra poriyal, karamani kuzhambu (black-eyed peas in tamarind curry), medu vada and homemade pickles. The menu changes every weekend and sometimes includes Keralite dishes. Ask nicely and you’ll get a parcel of Sappadu’s oh-so-good homemade puli milagai (green chilli pickle). @sappadugoa

SUZIE’S

For an eclectic, five-course dinner

Suzie’s by chef Suchint Dhillon and entrepreneur Kanak Seth is hidden away and reservations-only (part of its allure and efforts towards zero wastage). If you do make a date to visit, you’ll find yourself in a charming garden with soft jazz and pretty lights. Specify your vegetarian preferences at the time of booking for a carefully curated five-course meal that showcases local produce, sometimes in unusual ways. The menu keeps changing, but you may find dishes like eggplant gazpacho, a seasonal veg terrine (served with a charred hemp roti), and mushroom and banana blossom salad with peanut-tamarind sambal. While Seth slings flavourful and potent cocktails at the bar, Suzie is an expert at converting established tastes and overturning prejudices. Seth claims that she once turned a bitter gourd-hating filmmaker into such a fan with her karela wontons, that they returned for the dish three times. suzi.es

BATE-PAPO

For appetising renditions of paneer and beetroot

Some vegetarians may find paneer boring, but even carnivores cannot resist Bate-Papo’s sesame-crusted version, paired with orange reduction, and served with buttery mashed potatoes. Baneen Karachiwala runs this new, cosy, boutique bed-and-breakfast with her husband Rohit D’cruz, a trained pilot-turnedpassionate chef. D’cruz took on various culinary internships in Goa after the couple moved from Bengaluru three years ago, and the menu’s select vegetarian fare reflects his experience through familiar and global flavours. Try a delicate marinated baked brie with balsamic glaze, crostini three ways topped with wild mushrooms, and a hearty beetroot burger— the chef’s ode to his school-day memories of eating beetroot cutlets in Asansol. The space also hosts film screenings and other events that foster a community of creatives and “bate papo”, which in Portuguese means endless conversations. 9243434318

BEAN ME UP

For tasty vegan food

Founded in 1996, Bean Me Up became a vegan hotspot after animal rights activist Shawn Rodrigues came onboard in 2009. His aim: to propagate plant-based fare without sounding preachy. Over a decade later, Rodrigues has done just that, turning the cafe, B&B and yoga space into a destination for kombucha-loving nomads and mindful eaters. Soak in the rustic vibes and mantra music while relishing dishes like the wild burrito loaded with guacamole and a hemp falafel sandwich. There’s also a gluten-free BBQ tempeh pizza and the house special, a tofu burger. Rodrigues, who learnt to make tempeh in Indonesia, supplies it to other restaurants too. He’s curated a similar menu for the plant-based Gratitude Café in Anjuna, which has become a popularly bookmarked spot within a short span of time. beanmeup.in

PRANA CAFÉ

For jackfruit tacos and smoothie bowls

At this second, stand-alone outpost of a cafe attached to an eco-friendly guesthouse, the focus is on food that’s fresh and healthy. Still, Chef Varoon Nair (also an artist and musician) prefers making dishes that appeal to both vegetarian and non-vegetarian palates. The jackfruit tacos are popular, he explains, “because it’s a novelty for vegetarians and its meaty texture appeals to non-vegetarians too.” If you’re dropping in for breakfast, relish a croissant French toast with cashew cream or a mango banana goji smoothie bowl. Or watch the sun set over Anjuna’s lush paddy fields while enjoying a dinner of warm quinoa salad with pea puree, walnut ravioli with beetroot ricotta, mushroom parmesan croquettes or portobello mushrooms with crispy leeks. vaayuvision.com

EDIBLE ARCHIVES

Discover local roots and indigenous rice

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