A tryst with Tanjore

Goa welcomes the sprawling outpost of Mumbai’s iconic The Tanjore Tiffin Room
The spread at The Tanjore Tiffin Room
The spread at The Tanjore Tiffin Room

It is a susegad moment, tucking in spicy, crunchy, nethily meen fry; soft Ceylon black pork, and Madurai bheja fry, masala-rimmed, and squatting on mini kothu parottas under leafy trees, as the Arabian sea lurches noisily towards Anjuna beach. Co-founder Kishore DF’s The Tanjore Tiffin Room in Goa brings in a creative latitude that suffuses everything—from the robust red décor of the 150-year-old erstwhile Portuguese home and electric mixology at the bars to the lip-smacking menu.

The upscale restaurant carries an easy, laid back vibe by day, with nodding green genies and marigolds lining the path into the open area to the sexily lit amber pools at night as hundreds of shimmying oil lamps form frame-worthy nooks in the walls. Kishore has dipped into his family bounty in Chennai for stunning antiques and poised chandeliers.

Figurines in brass and terracotta and antique mirrors on vermilion walls, urlis cupping yellow and orange marigolds on the stone floor, potlis of podi and pickles packed away inside sturdy glass-encased cupboards, and foliage revelling in the gentle sunshine make every inch of the expansive space breathe. The design grammar sets the tone for a warm, cosy, yet swanky appeal.

There is a limpid flow to the flavours coursing through the dishes, composing the Tamilian home-style showmanship and palate-sensitivity. “The idea is to stand out in a volatile market,” shares Kishore. The offerings are unique and varied.

Clearly, this isn’t a usual Indian restaurant. The puri bonda broods in a crisp skin on the small plate in a spicy aloo-stuffed, deep-fried puri. Buff birria arrives roasted on tiny tacos. The Madurai bheja fry stroked with black pepper, street style, appears on flaky parottas.

Kishore DF
Kishore DF

The juicy baby lobster chilli fry gives fresh Goan seafood a delightful nod. Try the local fish chonak in an unbeatable piquant curry; the yummy Marina pork curry is slow-cooked, and calamari-bellied with grilled, minced prawns. This is wholesome, robust food, flavour-driven and ingredient-proud.

Chintamani chicken parades as a Chennai classic, with its searing flavours making mini bolts of pleasure surge through your palate. The best part is the choice of the dozen-odd curries that the tasting thaali offers, allowing you to make an informed choice. The curry, with different bases including coconut, tamarind, tomato…, is customised in keeping with vegetarian and non-vegetarian additions. The simple omelette curry is a silent showstopper with coriander, cumin and mint swirls.

“It’s easy to set up a beautiful restaurant, with great food, but if the overall experience isn’t enjoyable for the guests, you have failed,” says Kishore, having spun out two sibling superstars of The Tanjore Tiffin Room in Bandra and Versova respectively, earlier, in Mumbai. The mean mixology at the bar brings in cool cocktails, especially in the gin spin Garden Galata with passion fruit and citrus bitters. Popcorn infusions in tequila tip the scales in favour of an encore, while tiny coconut jaggery paniyarams make a mark—soft and podgy—in the subtle-sweet endings. Why choose Goa, and not Pune, Delhi, or Bengaluru? “Opening a restaurant in Goa puts you on the global map instantly,” smiles Kishore. We couldn’t agree more.

Uma Athai Curry

Ingredients

● Sesame oil:1/2 cup

● Fennel seeds: 5gm

● Mustard seeds: 5gm

● Curry leaves: 15-20

● Cinnamon stick:1 inch

● Onion: 3

● Tomato: 1

● Green chilli: 2

● Turmeric powder: 5gm

● Cumin powder: 5gm

● Coriander powder: 5gm

● Salt to taste

● Mutton masala: 15gm

● Red chilli powder: 5gm

● Ginger-garlic paste: 15gm

● Mint leaves: 5gm

● Boneless chicken leg: 500gm

Method

● Heat oil in a wok

● Add cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, dennel seeds, curry leaves

● Add julienned onion and sauté until transparent

● Add julienned tomato and slit green chillis

● Add ginger garlic paste

● Add chicken and fry

● Add salt and the powdered spices

● Add hot water and bring to a boil

● Simmer until cooked

● Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and mint leaves

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