After a highly successful trip earlier this year, acclaimed chef, restaurateur, cooking celebrity and philanthropist Floyd Cardoz joins us in February 2020 to dive right back into the gastronomic wonders of Mumbai and Goa.
Floyd’s birthplace is Bombay and his family hails from Goa. His love for food was born directly out of his formative years growing up in each place, cooking with his grandparents and parents and learning the secrets of the family masala. And, now, this celebrated chef and mastermind of the legendary Tabla in New York, who boasts wildly popular restaurants in Mumbai (Bombay Canteen, O Pedro), will be our guide on this cultural and culinary adventure.
Highly personal, expertly informed, this trip will bring a small group of gastronauts to some of Chef Cardoz’s favorite spots for eating, cooking, market shopping, sightseeing and just plain fun. Floyd lends incomparable insight into Indian culture through cuisine, and we are thrilled to be able to create this special Kilachand + Karp culinary tour with him and for you.
India’s most cosmopolitan, energetic and fashionable city is not only the financial capital of India and the home of Bollywood, but it is also the center for innovation in the culinary arts. Occupied by the “food obsessed”, Mumbai has been referred to as a “melting pot on full boil”. Multicultural and multiethnic, home to more than 20 million people, this fascinating, pulsing commercial center, once a grouping of seven different islands, also boasts a remarkable mix of heritage, Art Deco and contemporary architecture.
India’s smallest state, in both land and population, has captured the imagination of many for centuries. Goa has been at the crossroads of different cultures, East and West, long before European colonization. Its lush, varied topography, coastline of white sand beaches and rich tropical biodiversity provide an alluring backdrop to what has attracted tourists since the “hippie trail” of the 1970s. Despite increasing commercialization and development throughout the state, there remains a multitude of experiences that promise to dazzle and charm even the most sophisticated traveler. With its welcoming, laid back “Goan state of mind”, there is something for everyone. And the food, well, that’s the story and the reason to come along on this trip.
Accommodations in Goa
The pace of life in Goa will be markedly different from Mumbai. With that in mind, the setting for our accommodations will evoke this warm and laid back sensibility. Maravilha, in the charming village of Assagao, is a contemporary boutique hotel that offers luxury and an authentic Goan vibe. (4 nights)
Day 1: Welcome to Mumbai and All That Tajness
Guests arrive in Mumbai from various destinations. For those who have arrived early enough for a “welcome” nightcap, we hope you will join us at a favorite watering hole in the hotel.
Day 2: Diving Right Into This “Maximum City”
After arriving the night before from our various embarkation points, we gather for breakfast at the poolside verandah in the Taj’s heritage wing. At the start of his career, special guest chef Floyd Cardoz worked at this hotel. In fact, the Taj has a long history of cultivating culinary talent and embracing food and beverage as central to the customer experience. During this first gathering, Chef Floyd will provide an overview of how to eat in India and what to expect.
We set out on foot for a landmarks walking tour of South Mumbai or what some fondly refer to as “SoBo”. Mumbai’s heritage architecture is a fusion of foreign and Indian aesthetic references that have created an idiom completely unique to this city. Starting with the Indo-Saracenic grandeur of The Gateway to India and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, we will pass by the Royal Mumbai Yacht Club, the Police Headquarters building, Horniman Circle, St. Thomas Cathedral and end up in Kala Ghoda.
After a short ride to the Victoria Terminus/Churchgate area, we will be in the midst of a flurry of lunch deliveries by the dabbawalas, also referred to as tiffin walas. This high performance, low cost, eco-friendly lunchbox delivery and return system prompted The Harvard Business Review to accord Mumbai’s dabbawala community with a full case study highlighting it as a model of service excellence. For a less academic and more entertaining view of this phenomenon, we recommend the movie The Lunchbox (2013).
By now we will have worked up quite the appetite observing the tiffin distribution as well as lunchtime crowds surrounding street snack vendors. Ask any Mumbaiker about their favorite street food and you will launch them into a swoon-filled monologue of memory. What they ate after school, where their grandparents lived and how they can never replicate these immensely gratifying foods anywhere else but in Bombay. In fact, this is one of Floyd’s favorite topics of conversation. Once you get him started, you’ll be hanging onto every bite! Fittingly, lunch is at Swati Snacks, considered the best street food restaurant in the city – a modern diner serving up popular local fare. Pani puri. Vada pav. Pav bhaji. Bhel puri. And many others. Discover the perfect “chutney-to-crunch ratio” in these delicious bites of flavor and texture.
Several years ago, Floyd and his business partners dreamed of creating a dining experience in Mumbai that would reimagine Indian food in all its regional glory with bold flavors and seasonal ingredients – all within a fun and festive environment. Since the opening of Bombay Canteen in 2015, these aspirations have been translated into rousing success while also elevating interest in innovative regional Indian cuisine across the country. Often cited on every “best of” list, Bombay Canteen is our venue for a special dinner hosted by Floyd and CIA-trained Executive Chef and partner, Thomas Zacharias. For the last two years, the restaurant was crowned Number 1 in all of India at the Conde Nast Traveller Top Restaurant Awards.
Day 3: Floyd’s Roots in Bandra and Goa
On this third day in Mumbai, we will take a walk down memory lane with Floyd in the neighborhood where he grew up – Bandra – his “minha casa”. Following breakfast at the hotel, we head north to this charming “suburb” with a village feel and a cosmopolitan overlay.
Easily one of the most popular areas of the city to live, Bandra was once a collection of villages inhabited by the indigenous Kolis, a fishing-centric people and the original residents of Bombay. With the arrival of the Portuguese in the 16th and 17th centuries, many inhabitants of the area, in particular the Kolis, were converted to Catholicism. These converts were christened as East Indian by the British and together, they formed the backbone of Bandra’s cultural essence.
Today, Bandra is home to Bollywood stars, entrepreneurs, writers, hipsters, families, expats, organic farmers markets, coffee shops, gluten-free bakeries and much more. The vibe is relaxed and low key, hip and cool. Our walking tour will lead us to historic sights, important churches, heritage neighborhoods and street vendors. Along the way, Floyd will punctuate the historical narrative with personal recollections of the people, food and milestones that marked his early years and influenced who he is today.
While Bandra is Floyd’s childhood home, Goa is where his family roots lie and the inspiration for his second restaurant in Mumbai, O Pedro. The menu at O Pedro is “Goan-inspired” with authentic regional dishes that are updated in a playful, creative way. The interior is designed to evoke the warmth, light and hygge of a Goan roadside tavern but with enough variation in seating to accommodate business meals, family gatherings and bar frolicking. We know you will agree that O Pedro is the perfect venue for launching our food adventures in Goa.
Over lunch we will be exposed to poee, cafreal, xacuti, sorpotel, serradura, bebinca. We will learn that vindaloo does not resemble the one we have grown up eating. We will taste how vinegar and heat from chilis live in symbiosis. The culinary legacy of Goa is a result of over 400 years of Portuguese rule colliding with indigenous ingredients and a regional Indian flavor profile.
Following our Goan repast, we continue on the heritage tour of the city. First up is the Mani Bhavan where Gandhi would stay between the years of 1917 and 1934 when he visited Bombay. Nearby is the Royal Opera House, reopened a few years ago after an extensive restoration.
Afternoon and early evening at leisure.
Mumbai attracts top culinary talent from across India, Asia and the rest of the world. No visit to the city would be complete without sampling the fare at one of these innovative restaurants with their inspired menus drawing on European and Asian influences and local, seasonal ingredients. We will dine with new and old friends at one of the critically-acclaimed gathering spots.
Day 4: Multicultural Mumbai and Our Big Fun Parsi Wedding
Today, we continue to dive into Mumbai’s history and focus on some of the diverse cultures that have migrated from other parts of the world to become pillars of the community.
We return to the area near Victoria Terminus for a proper tour of this outstanding architectural and sociological phenomenon. From there we will take a short ride to Horniman Circle for a walking tour of St. Thomas Cathedral and the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in Kala Ghoda, also known as the “blue synagogue” and recently restored to magnificence by the World Monuments Fund.
In between these two historic houses of worship, we will stop for tea at Yazdani Bakery for an introduction to the Parsi community. The Kolkata-born novelist Amitav Ghosh has argued that the Parsis in their role as entrepreneurs, real estate investors and captains of industry “essentially created modern India.” But modern may not be the word you will use to describe your experience upon entering into this time warp. Since 1951, Yazdani has attracted a loyal following that embraces the old-fashioned comfort of its mava cake, pavs, snacks and famous Irani chai. Beyond the food and drink, what really draws customers is the warmth emanating from this family of bakers from Iran who found new roots in India and continue to honor tradition even as contemporary life presses up against its walls.
Lunch and the afternoon will be free for shopping and other activities.
An optional excursion to The Dr. Bhau Daji Lhad Mumbai City Museum can be arranged for those who are interested. Originally built as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Bombay, this landmark 1872 building showcases the city’s cultural heritage and history in its permanent collection and features changing exhibitions of contemporary art and culture.
At last, the moment has arrived for our big fun Parsi wedding. Tanaz Godiwalla, whose reputation as “the caterer” in Mumbai’s Parsi community is sine qua non, has invited us to be her guests at a wedding. A Parsi wedding is the ultimate expression of this joyous, charitable, yet dwindling community, that traces its presence in India to the arrival of Persian Zoroastrians 1,300 years ago. The Parsi embrace of culinary traditions and food-centric events is key to the preservation of cultural identity. And weddings are perhaps the epitome of this expression.
We will join Tanaz at a Parsi “baug”, a large open space where these weddings are held from November to March, day after day. It’s been said that the whole point of a Parsi wedding is to eat, and indulge we will while also mingling with the guests. Largely inaccessible to those outside the community, this will be an extraordinary opportunity to sample a panoply of dishes redolent of ancient Persian roots enhanced by the flavors of a millennium of Indian influences.
Day 5: Someone’s in the Kitchen with Floyd
A wake-up call might be necessary today. Well worth the early start at 6:30AM, our expert leader Harshvardhan Tanwar (“Harsh”) leads us on a custom version of his famous “Mumbai by Dawn” tour of the city’s trading markets.
We start at Sassoon Docks – the first wet dock and the only one open to the public. Here, we encounter a bustling fish and seafood market that is commandeered by feisty Koli women, the original inhabitants of the area. We will become well acquainted with the favorite local fish, Bombay Duck, and learn about the origins of its name. Most importantly, we will attend the fish auction with Ganesh who, along with Floyd, will choose the fish that we will cook later in the day. Ganesh is responsible for selecting the best catch for Floyd’s restaurants in Mumbai.
Since many of us did not have a chance to eat breakfast and all that bidding action has generated an appetite, Floyd leads us to the legendary Hotel Olympia for a morning snack of kheema (minced goat meat curry) with pav (soft bread buns) and some hot milky chai on the side. Plus a little roast mutton if you’re still hungry!
Sated and ready for the next adventure, we go shopping in some of the city’s rich produce and spice markets to gather all the ingredients that we will need for today’s special cooking session with Chef Floyd at his new state-of-the-art culinary laboratory and test kitchen. Donning aprons and toques, we are in for a treat all afternoon. Our efforts culminate with a group lunch.
By late afternoon, we return to the hotel and the rest of the day will be at the discretion of each guest.
Day 6: Bombay’s Best and Off We Go(a)!
We have saved a few of our favorite activities for our final day in Mumbai. First, however, we pack, check out and enjoy a leisurely breakfast at the hotel.
The Art Deco home of Hema Shroff Patel in swanky Malabar Hill is the first stop. Founder of Amba Textiles, a female collective of weavers in Maheshwar in central India, Hema will talk to us about what inspired her to create a socially-conscious company that supports female artisans and traditional weaving techniques. Her textile designs have a modern sensibility drawing on ancient sources as well as artists such as Agnes Martin. Amba’s ultimate mission is to provide economic independence and a sustainable income to poor rural communities in India. As such, a percentage of Amba’s profits are designated for specific projects to help sustain the skills of the artisans that the organization employs.
For lunch today we will be treated to the most delicious vegetarian Gujarati thali at Shree Thaker Bhojanalay. Up a set of stairs in a nondescript building in the middle of a bustling working neighborhood, we ascend to gustatory heights of pleasure at this “working man’s canteen” established in 1945. STB is also one of the most popular spots for chefs to eat when they get a break from their own establishments.
Travel by air from Mumbai to Goa.
Goa is a short one hour plane ride from Mumbai. After arriving at the hotel in the early evening, we will spend time to settle in and enjoy our new surroundings, perhaps take a dip in the pool, relax on our porches or retreat into the cool of our rooms.
Day 7: Easing Into That Goan State of Mind
Our indoctrination to Goa and its celebrated cuisine will be over poee and other local fare at breakfast. Acclaimed writer, culinary expert and television host, Odette Mascarenhas joins Chef Floyd for this special overview of Goan cuisine and its historical evolution.
As we have been on the go in Mumbai and are currently amidst a tropical paradise, we thought it would be prudent to take some time to relax and enjoy the surroundings before we head out to explore Goa’s treasures.
By late morning, we will board our bus for a journey to the past in Old Goa and Fontainhas. In between these two walking tours, we plan to stop for lunch at a restaurant known for authentic Goan dishes inspired by family recipes.
Our expert guide takes us on a walking tour of Old Goa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, we encounter the heyday of the Portuguese empire, the 16th and 17th centuries, when the population of Old Goa was larger than either Lisbon or London and the churches were grander. In fact, this settlement has been referred to as the “Rome of the East”. Outbreaks of cholera and malaria ended the glory days in Old Goa, and in 1759, the capital was reestablished in Panaji/Panjim.
There is probably no better path into the Portuguese legacy on Goa’s daily life than to walk through Panjim’s historic Fontainhas district. The availability of fresh water at the Fountain of Phoenix (or Fonte da Fénix in Portuguese) attracted the original settlers to this location, now the state capital of Goa. In various stages of restoration and decay, the 18th and 19th century structures in this area lend a charm and authenticity reminiscent of Old Havana and other Latin quarters of colonial conquest. As we wander through the narrow streets with balconies nodding out of each building, you will be dazzled by the brightly colored houses, elaborate tilework, mother of pearl shutters, terracotta roofs and other examples of Portuguese influence. We pass churches, temples, homes, art galleries, cafes, historic inns and stop at a 70-year-old bakery for some Goan sweets.
The day closes with a sunset boat ride on the Mandovi River where we will toast our good fortune to have arrived at Floyd’s special place.
Day 8: Friday Stands for Mapusa Market, Dr. Fish and a Beach BBQ
Markets in India buzz with unbounded kinetic energy and a kaleidoscope of vendors, produce and products. There is really nothing like being at Mapusa Market on a Friday morning when this activity supersizes with traders coming from all over the state. Floyd promises to help make sense of this sprawling display of commerce as he leads us to some of his favorite spots. For sure, we will soon locate the strings of homemade Goan chouriço along with displays of fresh bread stacked on wooden poles, resembling Jerusalem bagels without the sesame seeds. We will have ample time to wander through the endless stalls of food, textiles, home goods, spices and pretty much anything else one might need.
Our lunch venue is in Mapusa, a quick ride from the market madness. Owner Atuh Shah greets us at Spice Goa, an unassuming storefront eatery in a strip mall just off the Goa-Mumbai highway. Once inside and under Atul’s stewardship, we start to understand why this restaurant has secured its reputation as serving the best seafood in Goa. Spice Goa is a family affair. While Atul, also known as “Dr. Fish” for his uncanny ability to procure the best ingredients, even during the monsoon season, is the driving force behind the business, it is his wife Aparna who makes the food sing with her personal masalas, ground fresh every day.
The Shahs have designed a meal for our group that will highlight the local, seasonal fish and seafood, vegetables and other specialties of the house. By now we will be familiar with Goan preparations such as xacuti, recheado and peri peri, but it is highly unlikely that we have encountered crabs like the ones Atul will present to us before he sets them ablaze with chili and love. A sweet note from the house serradura promises to eliminate the sting from our mouths and send us off looking forward to the next “appointment” with Dr. Fish.
Free time in the afternoon.
It is commonly known that proximity to the ocean can generate ravenous appetites. So, this evening we will head to Anjuna beach to dine seaside at Cantando where friends and chefs, Kenny and Floyd, will collaborate on a special dinner. We are in for a delicious spread of BBQ, Goan Catholic and East Indian dishes whose recipes come straight from the chefs’ family kitchens. A nightcap of feni, the local spirit, follows dinner. Find out if you prefer the one made from cashews or palm toddy!
Day 9: Spiritual Goa, Sarawsat Brahmins and Stories in Saligao
After breakfast we head to Central Goa to Ponda, the cultural heart and center of numerous Hindu celebrations and festivals. With a stunning array of temples amidst a smattering of spice plantations and rice paddies, you will encounter a very different Goa than the one filled with beach revelers. There, we will visit the grounds of Shri Shantadurga Temple, a private complex belonging to the Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) community, participate in a puja and learn about the history of this more than 450-year-old spiritual center. The Goddess Shantadurga is worshipped as the one who settles conflicts and moves us toward peace.
The Saraswat Brahmin theme continues over lunch at Cidade de Goa, where we will learn about this lesser-known and highly nuanced pesco-vegetarian cuisine. It differs from Catholic Goan cuisine in several ways. While the Saraswat Brahmins use tamarind and kokum as souring agents, the Goan Catholics use vinegar instead. They also employ jaggery to add a dash of sweetness to every meal. Lastly, coconut oil is used as the primary fat for cooking. While Goan Catholic cuisine is all about heat, meat and spices, GSB cuisine is earthy and tastes both sweet and sour. This curated and informative meal will also be accompanied by expert commentary and cooking demonstrations.
The complex at Cidade de Goa was designed in the 1980s by Charles Correa, the most important architect of post-Independence India. At this particular site, he wanted to establish a new kind of vacation destination while evoking the sensibility of old world village life. Though better known for his master plans for urban developments such as Navi Mumbai and other significant modern buildings and monuments in India and across the world, Correa, a Roman Catholic of Goan descent, adopted an ironic, whimsical approach at Cidade. Smatterings of tromp l’oeil, nods to popular culture and mythology and references to history reflect different aspects of Hindu, Muslim and Portuguese heritage.
Afternoon at leisure.
We regroup in the early evening and step back in time with owner/chef Anisha Hassan of Saligao Stories whose 150-year-old ancestral home in this charming town is the setting for dinner. Raised in Delhi, Anisha’s roots lie in Goa and Hyderabad, and her menu, deftly adapted from recipes handed down over several generations, highlights these cuisines. History embraces us amidst the heirlooms, photographs and stories that we will hear from our gracious host who has rightly secured her place in a family long revered for their hospitality.
Day 10: Last But Not Least
A very special treat awaits us after we have packed up, checked out and had breakfast at our hotel. Off we go to visit the newly opened Moda Goa Museum and Research Centre in the town of Colvale. The brainchild of Goa’s native son and Indian fashion pioneer, Wendell Rodricks, the museum is the result of decades of documentation of the cultural and historical influences on Goan sartorial sensibility. The setting is a 400-year-old Portuguese house that has been transformed for the last quarter of a century by Rodricks and his partner Jérôme Marrel. The museum’s first temporary exhibition is expected to be “Modern Brides of Bollywood.”
On our way to the airport, we will stop for a farewell lunch at Gunpowder. This charming al fresco restaurant in the quiet village of Assagao specializes in coastal cuisine with a South Indian twist. It will be a fitting way to capture all of the flavors of our trip and send us off with a bang. The airport is our final destination where we bid adieu to Floyd and our friends.
As in life, many things are unpredictable. Therefore, please note that all final details for these tours are subject to change.
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