‘Nosto’ – Honest, authentic and Goan

When you visit Goa, I strongly urge you to support family run eateries. This is not some sentimental appeal. These families run food joints churn out the most delicious local food and put their heart and soul into the business. These mom-and-pop eateries do not have fancy carpeting (why would you want that in a place like Goa?) nor fancy crockery but they are mostly clean, authentic in flavours and super cool on your wallet.

You could come to Goa to have a fancy thirteen course French classical menu but that sounds like a meal better eaten in the city and still better in France. If you are in Goa, dig into the food like the Goans would, with your fingers and eat just about anywhere you see food.

While Goa has some super fancy and very good restaurants, I get the feeling you end up paying more for their overheads than the food and especially if the food is really not up to the mark. Take for example Folga at Seraulim. The restaurant which means ‘take a break’ in Portuguese is beautifully set up, just off the main road, by the edge of a paddy fields. The interiors are very tastefully done. Our steward surprisingly spoke Konkani, a rarity considering most of the locals choose to work abroad. The drinks were interesting though extremely light (I had the lavender twist) but the food was disappointing. Just about every Goan dish we ordered (and we ordered about seven dishes) was undercooked. Sadly, both the partners who were in the restaurant at the time, never asked us once, if we enjoyed the food and I did not care to offer unsolicited advice. Was it ‘the break’ that Folga promised? I would say yes to the ambience, certainly no to the food.

Then, just on a whim, I was whisked away after Sunday mass to this family run place in Benaulim. ‘Nosto’ translates very strictly as breakfast but can also be loosely used to mean a snack. This family run place by Thomas and Shoba Fernandes and their daughter Tinkle and her husband Rohan Borges is down to earth, finger licking and authentic.

We had to call in on a Sunday before we arrived, not because we needed a reservation but because we anticipated that the counter would be cleaned out and we were right. We also wanted to eat just the meats that are usually stuffed into the bread and we were happily obliged. Being a Sunday, people prefer to sit rather than just leave with a quick take away. We went through an array of interestingly well adapted snacks and many traditional ones too.

The Prawn Rissois de Camarao (Goan shrimp patties) also had a crab version and so did the croquettes. You will also get the usual favourites; the Goan beef or prawn croquettes, potato chops with an array of fillings, samosas and crispy patties but sit down to their sorpotel and sannas. These steamed rice cake seemed at first heavy to the touch but bite into it and you get this sweet coco-nutty taste which blends so well with spicy sorpotel. This sorpotel had liver too, for those who may not like their sorpotel with liver.

Then there was the potato bhaji and puri (served only on Sundays) which is a traditional Goan favourite along with the beef roast and tongue roast. The family takes food orders and while they are closed on Tuesday, Rohan told me that since they are just four months into the business, they smile and sacrifice their off day to oblige.

The entire family is at it. When they ran out of bread, Thomas sped off to the local bakery, in his short pants and on his scooter just to make sure we were not disappointed. Shoba who does the cooking will tell you just about everything you want to know except here recipes. Tinkle and Rohan have taken their vows seriously and wow you with their charm and service. The word “no”, is hard to pass their lips. At times, patrons get up and walk to the counter to pick up their food; such is the informality of the place. Nope, it’s not over the top, it’s not like you will say this is the ‘beeessstttt’ food ever; but it is honest, it is authentic and it is Goan.

Nosto is situated off the Colva road in Benaulim and next to the CCBI Centre. It is primarily a snack joint that is opened 7.30 am to 1 pm and 4.30 pm to 8 pm. They are closed on Tuesdays. You can call them on 9552424178

NB – The writer pays for his food

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