Tales of Kerala
September 18, 2019
Restaurateur, cookbook author, TV star and lecturer… Most people would collapse under the weight of so many hats but Sapna Anand, 46, looks like she just stepped out from between the pages of a fashion magazine. She is speaking at a Press Conference at Goa by Sapna Anand (previously Goa by Hubba); the restaurant is located on a wide strip of balcony above Tujo at The Ascott Kuala Lumpur and the laughter floating up is almost infectious. As she talks about her new menu, Sapna sends tendrils of anticipation sneaking into the seated audience and we couldn’t wait to taste it.
We start with a vegetarian dish, 3 Bean Salad With Puffed Rice (RM22). This is a wholesome salad which combines regular chickpea, brown chickpea and green lentils with puffed rice and a sprinkle of pomegranate, sliced turnip, lettuce, tomato and rocket leaves. The dressing is tamarind green chutney. Sapna says this is similar to the Tamil Sundal or Northern Indian Chana, street food which comprises a variety of stirfried beans sold in a newspaper cone.
|Three Bean Salad With Puffed Rice, inspired by Indian street food|
It’s not just her childhood that inspires Sapna. Borrowing a trick from China, she makes slow-cooked spicy mutton and sandwiches this in Chinese steamed buns with fried shallots and coriander for Shredded Mutton Mantao (RM25). Easy to eat and satisfying.
|Shredded Mutton in mantao|
One can have happy tummies with just snacks, with items such as fried ladyfinger, pakora and skewers. Goan Masala Chicken (RM18) is deepfried chicken strips marinated in a Goan red spice paste and served with a dip of Goan mayonnaise. Sapna says: “Recheado or Goan red spice paste is the quintessential base for seafood or meat sauces, made by blending chillies with 8 spices and is the staple ingredient for most dishes in Goa. It is used to cook meat or seafood together with Goan coconut vinegar.
Chicken Cutlet (RM18) is minced chicken marinated in a special blend of spices, rolled and coated with panko, a dish inspired by the Portuguese dish, Fofos de Bacalhau or fried cod cakes, but the fish is substituted with chicken instead.
|Goan Chilli Prawn in minced garlic butter|
But don’t stop there. The main courses await. I couldn’t get enough of Goan Chilli Prawn (RM35), scented with minced garlic butter and coriander leaves. Would have liked it with more chilli flakes but it really is yummilicious as it is. Order this with plenty of garlic bread or naan to mop up the gravy. Sapna says this is a Goan beach shack specialty, a snack she and her college friends binged on at the beach.
|Fillet of seabass in a gorgeous saffron sauce|
If you prefer fish, go for Fish in Saffron Sauce (RM45) is a thick fillet of seabass, grilled. Served with onion rings and bokchoy with generous amounts of golden saffron sauce. The fish is sweet and cooked to flake just right. The delicate flavour is a perfect foil for the mild, scented and creamy saffron sauce.
|Malabar Mutton Curry with plantain fritters|
Malabar Mutton Curry (RM28) is just as luscious, with chunks of mutton and spices slow cooked to tenderness. Served with plantain fritters that adds a sweet, fruity edge to the dish.
|Keema with Baked Egg served with toasted baguette|
Keema with Baked Egg (RM28) is a Parsi-style slow cooked lamb in spices and baked with runny egg on top. Meanwhile My Best Friend gives the thumbs-up to tender Goan Beef Vindalho (RM28), a Goan favourite made with brisket.
|Vegetarian Paneer Pea Cutlet|
Vegetarians won’t go home hungry at Goa. Vegetarian Paneer Pea Cutlet (RM18) is balls of paneer and mashed pea coated with crumbs and deepfried to a golden crisp. Inspired by Kolkata street food and served with hung yoghurt spiced dip. Hung yoghurt is yoghurt that has been strained to remove the water.
Other vegetarian choices include Eggplant Curry (RM22), a mild coconut spiced curry with tamarind brined caramelised baby eggplant, Paneer Tikka (RM22) and Mushroom Xacuti (RM22)
The mains are perfect with ghee rice, cranberry rice or a variety of naan (from RM6). For dessert, it’s house-made ice cream (RM16).
GOA by Sapna Anand (pork-free)
The Ascott Kuala Lumpur
9 Jalan Pinang, KL
Daily, 5pm to 1am