The very first day I walked into “Casa Sarita”, the fine dining Indian restaurant of the Park Hyatt Goa, I knew exactly what I was gonna get. While browsing through the menu in my room, my eyes were drawn to the Goan section and magnetized by “Mergol”, an Indian style pumpkin curry simmered in coconut milk with curry leaves and fresh grated coconut.
I was already sold just by reading the description, but when the Executive Chef Franco Canzano told me they could prepare any dish in any way I wanted it, leaving out ingredients I could potentially be intolerant to, I was on a mission to go try it.
Chef Franco, who’s originally from Buenos Aires and has worked in some of the most beautiful Hyatts in the world, from Paris to Milan and Doha, has fallen in love with Indian food soon after moving to Goa, about a year ago.
And as we are chatting, I can’t help but ask him a question I like to ask every major chef I meet that has traveled the world through food.
Amazing Dishes From Around the World
“What is your favorite dish that you would take away with you from each one of the countries you’ve worked in?”
Franco’s response is immediate:
From Buenos Aires: “Asado”. Argentinian meat cooked on a grill or on an open fire. I love to see the charcoal lit and the meat grilling on it.
From Paris: “Bisque”, this seafood sauce is truly amazing, and they way they make it there is over the top.
From Milan: “Saffron Risotto with Osso Buco”, it’s such an earthy and delicious dish and they have a way to make it come out perfect every time.
From Qatar: “Shawarma and Hummus”, a type of kebab that in Turkey is called Doner. It’s so interesting to me to see how every place in the world has a different grilling or cooking technique to prepare meat.
From India: “Tikka”, which is a term that applies to all that is cooked in a tandoori oven on a skewer. I come from the charcoal tradition and “Tikka” is the Indian version of it. The best dish? “Chicken Malay Tikka with Yogurt”, so it’s not too spicy.
I am always amused when I see how the horizons of already talented Chefs are broadened by their travels around the world, that enrich their knowledge with new ingredients and techniques.
And Chef Franco never gets tired of learning: “After India I want to go to Japan, India or Korea and learn about the food in those countries – he tells me. – Then I’d either like to finish my career in Spain, where my wife is from, or in Italy. I feel at home when I go there, even more than Argentina, because my family is all Italian”.
While I talk to Chef Franco, I am sitting by the glass that looks over the open kitchen of “Casa Sarita”, where Chef de Cuisine Edridge Vaz is preparing my Indian style pumpkin curry making sure to avoid any ingredient that’s on my allergy list.
And when he brings it to my table, accompanied by some Goan unpolished rice, I can fully appreciate his talent in calibrating each flavor to perfection to create a flawless dish.
- 30 ml Coconut Oil
- 1 tsp Mustard Seeds (avoid if on the AIP)
- 10-15 Curry Leaves
- ½ tsp Turmeric Powder
- 200 gr Onion, sliced
- * Green Chili, to taste (optional) (*avoid if on the AIP)
- 600 gr Red Pumpkin, diced
- ¼ cup Fresh Coconut, grated
- ¼ cup Coconut Milk
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tsp Coconut Sugar (optional)
- ½ cup Water
- Heat up the oil in a thick bottom pan, add the mustard seeds and, once they start to splatter, add the curry leaves, onion, turmeric, chilly and sauté for two minutes.
- Toss in the diced pumpkin and sauté for two more minutes.
- Add in the grated coconut, coconut milk, salt, sugar and water.
- Cover and let cook until the pumpkin is tender.
- Serve hot.
I am sure you are going to love this recipe as much as I did, and if you are looking for a tasty side dish that could replace rice (AIP reintro), prepare some cauliflower rice seasoned with coconut oil and coconut milk.
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Ciao and I will catch you next time!!