Tie a Yellow Ribbon

The Navhind Times/Zest 3 / July 7,2007
Gourmet’s Delight by Odette & Joe Mascarenhas
‘I’m coming home, i’ve done my time....’ a favourite song during the 70’s, but i could not stop humming it as we approached the little yellow bungalow in Taleigao, with red roof-tiles and a sign above its doorway simply stating ‘ Branco’s ‘.
Branco’s was started by Francisco and Veronica Branco. Today their youngest son Orlando runs the place. Built on a 150-year-old Portuguese armoury godown (one building still stands there) it was originally supposed to be a farmhouse. ‘but one day, my grandmother saw a snake on the premises,’ smiles Orlando, and so Dad converted it into a restaurant in 1918.
The cosy ambience strikes you immediately. The centre focus is the bar. The menu is also very well designed with wooden slats with the Branco seal. ‘My parents loved this restaurant,’ says Orlando, ‘and we have still retained the cooks who had been with them.’
A mural on the wall depicts the culinary tools used by our grandmother’s in the yester years. The adoli, gurguret, chul, dovlo, fatre, koyte.... I am not talking Inca Mexicana......it was a history lesson for me too, as Orlando explained each and every item stating that the food was made in the kitchen using the very same equipment.
Yes siree.......no electric mixer, the rogdo, the round grinding stone was used to make the curry and reichade masala. And looking at the prawn masala put in front of us as starters, the spices coarsely ground to a paste, I can well believe him. No electric mixer would be able to get this consistency.
And then there was the gabodie...the fish roe fingers..... uummm...its been ages since i had eaten this delicacy – crisp on the outside, crumby on the inside....just heaven.
Orlando has retained the traditional Goan touch. Recommended on the menu is the chonak (Snapper), gobro (Rock fish), Tomso (Red snapper). ‘During the months of October-November, we make a delicious stuffed crab,’ he smiles. But it’s not only the sea food. One can have a wide variety of meats.... chicken, red meat cooked in mouth watering gravies that leaves you craving for more
The waiter brings in fresh plates with the traditional Goan prawn curry/rice...one could also have it with the crusty Goan bread. The traditional Goan sausages also appear. ‘Another strong favourite is our Portuguese dishes, ‘ he states, ‘we make a good fish Escabesh and a Guizado.’ The quality of the food is good , the prices very economical.
Another surprise.... his desserts. Listed on the menu are lemon crumble, chocolate chip surprise, cappuccino mousse, plus the usual local favourites, Definitely a sweet finale.
Orlando continues not only the legacy of his parents, but a legacy of Goan food made in the days gone by . a yellow ribbon can fly away in the breeze, but that little yellow house in Taleigao is here to stay.