Friday, November 24, 2006
Goan and North Indian Specialties
175 Littleton Road (Route 110), Westford, Mass. (1-978-399-0009)
A short while ago we had an early dinner after shopping at Market Basket in Westford. Café Goa is in the shopping strip across the street.
It is a small and pleasant restaurant with an attentive staff. Although new, there were families with children there as well as others and everyone seemed to be enjoying the food.
Indian is a very special cuisine and tends to be highly spiced unless you request otherwise. We tried several dishes as well as the special garlic naan. Naan is an Indian bread that is unleavened, and in this case it was covered with small chunks of garlic. It is usually cooked in a tandoor oven, which is a vertical clay oven.
We asked about the name Goa, and were told that it was a former colony of Portugal, located on the west coast of India. It is famous for its unique coconut- based curries. Goan cuisine is a mix of Hindu, Christian and Muslim Traditions. The Christian dishes are sour, made with vinegar, but the Muslim dishes are made with Kokum, a sour fruit. The curries are eaten with rice and not naan (apparently I did this incorrectly as I enjoyed the garlic naan with my meal).
We started with the chicken soup, which was not like my mother prepared but intensely more spiced. It was quite different and quite good.
We ordered the Chicken Xacuti, which is a Goan chicken cooked with coconut and a blend of coastal spices ($13.95). Additionally we had the Ghosht (lamb) Bombay Rogan Josh ($12.95), a specialty from Kashmir. This was lean lamb pieces cooked in yogurt and a blend of spices. These were served with rice and chutney and we also had raita, which is yogurt with cucumbers, tomatoes and fresh mint. The raita is necessary particularly if you are unused to a hot dish. The yogurt cools down your palate and refreshes it for the next mouthful. It is interesting to see the contrast of taste variations from different countries with yogurt dishes. I have had yogurt in Afghani side dishes, and it tends to be quite flavorful, almost sparkling like some drinks and spiced quite differently from the yogurt in Greek side dishes which is also made with cucumbers and has dill and garlic, but firmer because the yogurt is drained first.
If you enjoy Indian cuisine I would recommend Café Goa.
The hours are: lunch, Monday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.
© 2006 The Carlisle Mosquito