It’s no secret that chef Cyrus Todiwala has harboured a deep-seated desire to cajole Britain to go Goan for a long while. Last year, the dream was realised with the opening of his London-based Goan canteen, Assado. But it wasn’t enough. Now, together with wife Pervin, Cyrus is pushing for people to actually go TO Goa.
How? Well, he’s not literally marching Brits aboard an aeroplane; rather, enticing them with his spicy new venue from afar – namely, the banks of the Baga river and the Acron Waterfront Resort: home to The River Restaurant.
Anyone who’s seen even a single episode of ‘The Incredible Spicemen’ will be familiar with Cyrus’s unique brand of coherent fusion food; his melting pot mentality evidently echoing that of Goa, where the chef spent almost a decade prior to moving to London in 1991 and, notably, holds the title of ‘Honorary Game Warden’. The tiny state has a huge European culinary influence, owing to the 400 years of Portuguese rule which brought garlic, chillies, tomatoes and potatoes to the local table.
Back in Britain, Cyrus is committed to championing local, seasonal produce and the people behind it, and he retains the same mentality at The River Restaurant. Goa grows some splendid stuff, and the somewhat sophisticated Indo-European menu Cyrus and Pervin have put in place together with new Executive Chef Mark Smith promises only to enhance the abundance of already-exemplary indigenous ingredients.
As one has come to expect from the Todiwala twosome, innovation is another essential ingredient. Although authenticity is ever-important, so too is evolution, exploration, and excitement. So is Goa going gourmet? With The River Restaurant launch coinciding with a pretty dynamic programme at the Taste of Goa festival, spearheaded by charity Goa For Giving, it certainly seems so…
Five of Cyrus’s gorgeous Goan recipes
Five more glorious Goan dishes to eat at Assado
Tiny breaded half moon-shaped, deep-fried pancakes with a creamy prawn filling
A mellow, comforting dish whose subtle gravy was invented to please the Portuguese
A meaty curry whose complex flavour comes from 21 different ingredients
Chargrilled meat in a coriander, garlic and green chilli marinade
A ‘cake’ comprising multiple stacked crepe layers, rich in coconut and egg yolks
Toast to the Todiwala’s new venture…
Raise a glass to The River Restaurant with this totally tropical cocktail created especially for the purpose of this post by Cyrus and Pervin’s eldest son Jamsheed. Cheers, Jam… and bottoms up, C&P!
Jam says, ‘This cocktail is about balancing simple flavour with the zing of the liquor coming through lightly. I always love a cocktail where the alcohol is hinted at rather than in-your-face.’
- 3 handfuls of crushed ice
- 8-9 large fresh mint leaves
- 10g fresh ginger, chopped
- 330ml coconut water with ‘bits’
- 50ml cashew feni (Goan liquor – use 75ml Appleton rum should it elude you!)
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 stalks lemongrass, slit like when you peel a banana -leave the tips intact and open the rest in nice strands
- 20ml rose syrup (we prefer Iranian as it is the sweetest and most delicious of them all)
- 2 tumblers
Put 1 handful of crushed ice, 6 of the mint leaves, the chopped ginger, the coconut water, the alcohol and the brown sugar in the cocktail shaker.
Shake for 5 seconds, then swirl for 15 seconds. (This allows the alcohol to infuse properly with the ingredients instead of causing it to foam up as it does when shaken vigorously.)
Put 1 handful of crushed ice in each tumbler, depending on how strong you like it.
Take the lemongrass stalks, place one stub side-down in each glass, and bury them in the centre of the ice pointing upwards. Cut each stalk to match the height of the glass, making sure they are not split too much.
Strain the contents of the shaker into the glass over the ice and lemongrass.
For each serving, pour 10ml of the rose syrup over the tip of the lemongrass and let it run down into the glass.
Garnish with fresh mint leaves and a few strands of lemongrass.
Enjoy – if the lemongrass is cut properly you will be able to use it as a stirrer, further infusing the drink as you sip up!
- The River Restaurant, Acron Waterfront Resort, Seaward side of the Baga Bridge, Baga, Goa 403516
- For more information, visit acronwaterfrontresort.com
- Try more of Jamsheed’s culinary creations at the Todiwala-owned and run Park Cafe in the Hub at Victoria Park, East London
- Read more about the Portuguese influence on Indian food here
- Read more about Assado here
- Read more about Pervin Todiwala here