Goa welcomes visitors not only to its picturesque beaches and traditional food but it also takes good care of the taste palette of people from across the globe offering a wide range of continental or western cuisines like steak, pastas, risotto and cafreal, which are getting popular with tourists.
“Continental or western food is quite popular among the local as well as foreign tourists. Goa being a local melting pot for everyone it’s the best platform to showcase international cuisine,” says chef Avinash Martins, who runs his ‘Cavatina’ cuchina grill and bar at Benaulim in South Goa.
With tourists pouring over from all over to the world to Goa, not all appreciate the traditional Goan cuisine, and that’s where the 36-year-old chef, a native of the small state, decided to innovate his cooking styles and serve a menu which appeals the taste buds of visitors from the West.
“The appeal for continental food has definitely been on the increase,” Martins told PTI. The entrepreneur, who not only cooks for his customers but has also done up the place in his own style, says over a period of time, he has seen new cooking techniques being developed to attract food lovers.
“I have seen various cooking techniques being implemented, new flavours from unheard regions for the world, and also guests wanting to try something different,” he said.
The chef, who terms his cuisine as “progressive”, says he designs his dishes for both foreign and domestic visitors.
“My cuisine and menu is very progressive.I have designed the menu keeping in mind tourists as well as local guests,” says Martins, who started his career with the Oberoi Group. He then went on to gain experience for 12 years on international platform in hotels, Michelin starred restaurants, cruise ships, airlines, etc.
“So there are takes on dishes such as pulled chicken cafreal on potato crisps, which is a traditional Goan main course, but I have introduced it as a starter. There is a local chorizo in a barbecue glaze starter. And the response has been fabulous,” he said while describing how he incorporates indigenous elements into his food.
His signature dishes include seafood mousse stuffed chicken breast “so guests get to taste the best of both worlds seafood and meat, served with a delicate beurre blanc”.
“Another of my signatures is ‘A la Mexicana prawns’. It’s a dish where the prawns are stuffed with avocados, chilli and cheese. It’s served with a salsa. So basically it was my take on Mexico where avocados are creamy and abundant and seafood at its best,” he said.
Martins says as per his experience, the tourists want to try both Goan as well as global food while vacationing in
the coastal state.
“It is really a mix and match. For long staying tourists they first go with the local cuisine and then want to try international dishes over their period of stay,” said the chef whose restaurant has won the Times award for best European food.
To keep his customers happy, Martins keeps innovating and puts up new ideas into his gourmet.
“I always try and evolve my cuisine, the menu changes every six months. I like to travel and pick cuisines from my travels,” he said.
He said that contrary to the general perception, he has found Indian tourists being more experimental when it comes to food.
“I see no difference amongst the younger generation of Indian tourists as opposed to the foreigners. As a matter of fact, our Indian tourists are far more experimental and more adventurous than foreign counterparts,” he said.
Sometimes, the chef has to customise the food, as recently while he was serving continental food from the menu, a couple of guests sprang up with a surprise demand for the traditional ‘Awadhi biryani’. Martins had to roll up his sleeves and get back to the kitchen to cook it up fast to satisfy his clients.
On his unique experiences over the world while exploring food, he said, “Well the most unique one in the Haitian islands, where we had a barbecue at an island where the locals were diving in for fresh lobsters and snappers in exchange for a few beers.”