Ma Goa: Flavour explosion (December 2014)

Our annual Christmas gathering of university chums and partners saw us in Putney on the Saturday before Christmas with Ma Goa as the venue. Modern and trendy it may not be, but in terms of food quality, this restaurant definitely deserves to be up there, ranking among some of the tastiest Indian food recently sampled in London. Furthermore, all plaudits to the place for being able to accommodate a group of 15 of us, and with good attitude throughout proceedings. Ma Goa has been established for over 30 years and remains a family-run business. This is clearly evident based on the lack of pretention, the charming nature of the staff and – most importantly – the food, all of which is also priced reasonably. Starters are priced at around £5 and many mains can be found for £10. The food is a long way from the traditional and mundane. There are no bhajis or tikka masalas here; instead, more original and inventive cooking, primarily from the region of Goa (as one might expect) and based on homemade recipes. The overwhelming impression would be one of an explosion of flavours in each mouthful, a combination of inventive texture and a judicious use of spices from across the spectrum. I commenced with the ‘Balchao,’ a small earthenware pot of shrimps cooked in a wonderfully rich tomato sauce enhanced by a range of spices, both hot and sweet. For the mains, I selected the ‘Konkan-style’ Gallina chicken, small diced pieces of meat in a mouth-tingling piquant sauce. I also sampled my neighbour’s ‘Anardhana Raan’, an amazing dish of pot-roasted lamb shank, slow-cooked with tomato, ginger, garlic, cinnamon, pomegranate and red chilli. Vegetable sides also pleased, particularly the spinach and the aubergine, the latter cooked in a deliciously rich tamarind and coconut sauce. We all ended the evening well-pleased and certainly were I a Putney resident, then Ma Goa would make a strong case to be my local.