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Early Lessons- PETER FERNANDES

Early Lessons- PETER FERNANDES
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Visitors to Goa tend to think that food and drink in Goa means only fish curry, rice and feni. And for many Goans these are indeed the three basic necessities of life.

A Goan values his food as much as he does his daily siesta. And seafood in some form or the other always takes pride of place. But apart from ambotik and other fish curries, Goan cuisine embraces a wide range of foods ranging from prawns to sausages, chicken to beef, and numerous vegetarian dishes. Goan cuisine is able to satisfy even the most finicky appetites and its prawn balchão and vindaloos have become famous round the world.

I learnt to cook in my mother’s kitchen. She used to say that when you follow a recipe you must put your heart and soul into it and even try to modify it. I still rememeber her helpful tips which have come in handy on many ocassions. It was she who once advised me not to put in the salt first while preparing a dish but to add it in later. It was under her expert guidance that I sharpened my skills in Goan and Goan Portuguese cuisine.

I got into the line naturally and began cooking at 13 for friends. They always appreciated whatever I cooked. After I completing my education, I remember my first job as a kitchen helper at O’Coqueiro Pub and Restaurant in April 1986. Strangely, the infamous Charles Sobhraj, who created a sensation by escaping from Tihar jail was caught at O’Coqueiro on the very same day that I cut my first onions in its kitchen.

It’s been no looking back since then and I have gone on to conduct a Goan food festival at the renowned five star Sun-n-Sand hotel in Pune in September 2006. I have had the honour of preparing a meal for Mr Keith Vaz, the MP from UK and many other dignitaries.

‘Best Chef’

Currently Peter is the Master Chef who takes care of the Goan kitchen at Bay 15. He regularly brings to the table his ‘special menus’ designed to tickle the palates of his customers who include a host of Bollywood and other celebrities. His homemade Goan pickles and masalas are also sold at the restaurant and picked up regularly by his customers.

Being recognized today as the Best Chef of India under the non-hotels category by the Department of Tourism, Government of India, has truly been a feather in the cap for Peter Fernandes. He is the first Goan restaurant chef to have received this honour.

Recipes

Stuffed Crab

(Serves 4)
Ingredients
River crab 1 kg
Sunflower oil 100 ml
Onions 350 gms
Tomatoes 150 gms
Garlic 10 gms
Cloves 3 gms
Kashmiri chillies 20 gms
Black peppercorn 3 gms
Cumin seeds 3 gms
Turmeric powder 3 gms
Tomato Sauce 100ml
Cinnamon 2 gms
Vinegar 50 ml
Salt to taste

METHOD

Wash and clean the crabs and boil them for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain and cool.
Remove the flesh and retain four equal size crab shells for filling. Chop onions and tomatoes very fine and fry on slow flame till they become soft. Grind with vinegar, Kashmiri chillies, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, chilly, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper corn, cumin seeds and turmeric powder. Add chopped onions and tomatoes to the ground paste Then add the crab flesh, mix and fry well. Add salt.
Fill the mixture in the four shells and serve hot with salad. You can also add grated cheese on top.

Stuffed Squid

(Serves 4)
Ingredients
Squid 1 kg
Onions ¼ kg
Prawns or squid entrails and cartilage ¼ kg
Tomatoes 100 gms
Green chillies 5 gms
Oil 100 ml
Salt to taste

For grinding
Ingredients
Kashmiri chillies 25 gms
Ginger 20 gms
Garlic 20 gms
Cumin Seeds 2 gms
Vinegar 100 ml
Turmeric powder 5 gms

Method

Clean and wash the squids well, apply salt and keep aside. Grind Kashmiri chillies, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, turmeric powder together in vinegar. Chop finely prawns or squid entrails, onion. tomatoes and green chillies. Heat oil in a pan and fry onion till light brown. Add tomatoes and green chillies and fry well. Add prawns or entrails and half ground masala. Cook till dry. Fill the stuffing in the squids and close with the help of toothpick. Heat oil in another frying pan and add stuffed squids and the half ground masala. Cover and cook on stove fire till done. Serve hot as snacks.

This article first appeared in Timeline Goa Magazine Vol. 1 Issue 2.

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