Gleðileg jól !

This shot was taken from the area between Goðaland and Þórsmörk. Seen in the foreground is the glacial plain of Krossá, among Iceland‘s most dangerous glacial rivers, and in the distance, Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

Goðaland and Þórsmörk, looking towards Mýrdalsjökull

Goðaland and Þórsmörk, looking towards Mýrdalsjökull
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 100 f/2 MP

 
 
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  • sanjeev - December 28, 2011 - 1:15 pm

    Amazing ! looks like a collage !ReplyCancel

  • Thomas Pindelski - December 26, 2011 - 2:43 pm

    The superb rendering here, with the wonderful foreground detail, is the sort of thing that cries out for a large print, even if we largely live in a world of LCD-this and plasma-that.ReplyCancel

  • Jon - December 26, 2011 - 9:28 am

Merry Christmas to all!

These are images from Dec 24, 2007.

Midnight mass on Christmas Eve at Saligao

Midnight mass at Mãe de Deus church in Saligao
5D, 35L

 
Midnight mass celebration at Aldona

Midnight mass celebration at Aldona
5D, 35L

 
Three sheets to the wind - in Aldona

Christmas spirits
5D, 35L

 
 
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  • Dev Bhowmick - December 16, 2013 - 8:38 pm

    Hello Sir

    We have contacted many organisations such as: friendsofeducatorstrust.india@gmail.com

    My name is Devashis (Dev) Bhowmick from Montreal, Quebec, Canada and I would like to seek your kindest permission to reprint content from your website and organisation from time to time (1-2 pieces). We are a monthly publication.

    You will receive photo and article credit alone (source and author). and I will perhaps (if it suits you and us) put a small logo graphic with your published content (print media).

    Ours – newspaper – has been serving the community since 1985.
    I would like to include ideally Photographs/Articles found on your website.

    Our deadline for the December 2013 issue is over. It is the 7th of each month with all materials finalised by the 15th.

    Thanking you in advance and appreciating your kind cooperation.
    You will receive an electronic copy of the newspaper when it features your content. If I forget, please do remind me. If I am in the area or you are in Montreal, we can arrange a meeting.

    I am a chap of good character and and upstanding citizen.

    You may telephone me at 1 (514) 481-7445 /leave a message/ to respond or reply by email.

    I will attach a sample issue when you respond.

    Thank you from my family to yours.

     

    [Mr. Bhowmick – Thank you for your interest. I do not work for free and my photographs are not available for free. You are welcome to buy prints or license them. Regards.

     

    Rajan Parrikar]ReplyCancel

  • jc - December 24, 2011 - 1:58 pm

    Pic 1 speaks for itself.

    Pic 2: The ‘outstanding’ Catholics

    Pic 3: also could be ‘Lack of Spirit’ in the boring and unnecessarily long sermao.ReplyCancel

This is Part 2 of the conspectus on the cafés of Panjim. The first installment outlined the city’s café culture and covered the iconic Café Central. Here we survey the pioneering houses of the genre that are still active and thriving.

The menu at all these cafés has much in common. They distinguish themselves by their house specialties and through variations on familiar dishes. Panjimites are deadly serious about their cafés and brand loyalty is fierce, with affiliations carrying seamlessly over generations within families.

A few of the older cafés have now adopted a two-tier seating (and pricing) arrangement by adding an air-conditioned annexe. The comfort it provides in the summer months is welcome, but to those of us weaned on the originals, the new upgrades have diminished some of the spirit and character of an earlier era.

As mentioned in the earlier post, Café Central no longer supports a sit-down setting. Café Tato is today the top dog, located only a few steps away from the old Café Central site. It was founded in 1913 by Keshav Govind Dhuri from the village of Nerul, and is the oldest of the surviving cafés. It began as Hindu Upahar Griha, which was later dropped in favour of “Tato,” the founder’s cognomen. Today the enterprise is run by the grandson, Pradip Govind Dhuri.

Café Tato is internationally known for its bhaji-puri. See this and drool. (Note: the t’s in Tato are soft, the ‘a’ is long, and the second syllable ‘to’ is phonetically similar to the Engish ‘raw’.)

Breakfast of the Gods - at Café Tato

Breakfast of the Gods - Café Tato
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Pradip Dhuri, proprietor of Café Tato

Pradip Dhuri, proprietor
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
 

Café Aram – earlier known as Café Remanso – came online c. 1945. It is the birthplace of the world’s greatest batata-vada. I’m sorry to say that, all the hoopla notwithstanding, the vada-pão from Bombay is a thundering flop. The ability to tell a good batata-vada from a great batata-vada is what separates the men from the boys. The key to the batata-vada is encrypted not in the filling (as is commonly and mistakenly imagined) but in its shell. The herbs & spices, thickness, consistency, coefficient of porosity, and the overall softness of the coat taken together are vital to the success of a batata-vada. My research has shown that only Café Aram meets the highest parametric standards in this regard. The Bombay batata-vada with its thin, wimpy shell stands no chance against the genuine Goan article.

Café Remanso (Aram)

Café Remanso (Aram)
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
Café Aram

Café Aram
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
List of Goodness

All the Goodness
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
Mother of all Batata-vadas

Mother of all batata-vadas - Café Aram
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
 

Café Prakash was founded in 1955 by Vasudev B. Sakhalkar, and named after his son Prakash who is now in charge. This is the watering hole of Goan journalists (known locally as patracars) who divide their time between the café and work (95% café, 5% work).

Prakash Sakhalkar, proprietor of Café Prakash

Prakash Sakhalkar, proprietor of Café Prakash
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
 

Café Bhonsle was established in 1920 by Rama Bhonsle. The family legacy is today handled by his grandsons. Specialties here include mix-bhaji with chapati, and the piquant mirsang (batter fried hot chili pepper).

Mix-bhaji - Café Bhonsle

Mix-bhaji - Café Bhonsle
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
Café Bhonsle

Café Bhonsle
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 
Chao (tea)

Chao (tea)
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
 

The final pick is Café Real (the Portuguese ‘Real,’ meaning royal), founded in 1946 by Gajanan Shirodkar, and celebrated for its exceptional bhaji-puri.

Café Real

Café Real
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

 
 
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  • william rebello - January 1, 2015 - 6:03 pm

    we first met at café real via a vis matrimony which finally culminated to our marriage hence the place is sancrosanct to usReplyCancel

  • Premanand - September 14, 2013 - 1:58 am

    Rajan,

    This is probably the tenth time I am (re)reading this post. And every time I do so, my stomach growls and the mouth it drools. Thanks for this “delicious” post!ReplyCancel

  • Abhijeet - June 21, 2012 - 5:05 pm

    Immensely proud to be a part of this heritage but I think you havent done justice by writting enough on these guys. These individuals deserve their ups and downs in this business to be well documented.ReplyCancel

  • Veena Parrikar - December 24, 2011 - 1:42 pm

    Truth be told, Mr. Pindelski, engineers of the Indian provenance cannot even properly boil a potato, let alone make soul-satisfying batata-vada.ReplyCancel

  • GdeF - December 23, 2011 - 10:37 pm

    My visits to Goa are incomplete if I don’t visit at least one of these places of culinary pilgrimage. Thank you for bringing the lesser known but better places of culinary delights into the limelight.ReplyCancel

  • Thomas Pindelski - December 23, 2011 - 8:39 pm

    An immensely enjoyable piece, thank you.

    ‘Encryption’, ‘coefficients of porosity’ and ‘paramteric standards’ could only come from an engineer and, truth be told, great cooking is more technology than art.

    It’s especially striking how long the provenenace of these places is. There’s a reason for that.

    And a deep curse on the Coca Cola corporation, leaving its mark everywhere like a urinating dog.ReplyCancel

  • jc - December 23, 2011 - 7:11 pm

    Enjoyed the mixed bhaji and the ‘patracars who divide their time between the café and work (95% café, 5% work)’.ReplyCancel

This is the first installment of a 2-part series.

The cafés of Panjim are part of its living heritage and inspire deep affection from its residents. Although called cafés, they are nothing like their counterparts in Europe. These are modest eating houses that serve breakfast and small meals throughout the day, and where the beverage of choice is chao (tea). The mains consist of bhaji-puri and curries of legumes accompanied by Goan pão. Rounding off the menu are waist-expanding, soul-enriching sides such as samosa, batata-vada (potato fritter), and mirsang (batter-fried hot chili pepper), all distinctively Goan in flavour. The food prepared at the cafés is vegetarian.

Our cafés have been good social levelers. Here, one’s position on the socio-economic totem pole is of no consequence. The menial worker, the doctor, the fisherwoman, and the mining robber baron frequent the same cafés, and share – sometimes jostle for – a table at peak hours. These establishments are owned by Goan Hindus, and the Catholics count among their most fervent patrons.

The earliest cafés of Panjim – Shivramachi Brahmani, Café Puna – no longer exist. For the past several decades, Café Central has been considered the primus inter pares of the city cafés, and is the subject of this post. In Part 2, we will survey the best of the rest. [Update: Part 2.]

Atmaram S. Gaitonde opened Café Central in 1932 on the ground floor of Residênçia Fátima, the (now-demolished-and-replaced-with-third-world-concrete-rubbish) building near the Municipal Garden, across the lane from another city institution, Clube Vasco da Gama. Today the space is occupied by Mr. Baker and the Jesuit House. A word on pronunciation: “Central” is intoned Portuguese style, with a long ‘a’ and trilled ‘r.’

The bhaji-puri was not invented at Café Central but it was perfected there, and in time came to be regarded as the gold standard, pronounced so by Goans as well as the resident Portuguese gentry of the day. Accounts of the zeitgeist of that period invariably figure Café Central, the attendant bonhomie, and the bhaji-puri. Several other traditional delights emerged from the café’s kitchen bearing a unique interpretation, and the secret formulae at the heart of these delicacies have survived to this day.

In 1971, Café Central shifted to the premises it occupies today, less than a kilometre away. With this move came a major change in business model, one that dealt a blow to its devotees: both the bhaji-puri and the café’s sit-down operation were retired. From then on, Café Central would recast itself as a conventional store, stocking in-house bakery goods and signature treats. The sublime bhaji-puri is gone but many of the old classics still line the shelves – such as the world’s finest samosa, the bread toast (‘fatio’ in Konkani, from the Portuguese ‘fatias’), and the award-winning batata-vada, all made fresh every day, year-round. (Batata is the Portuguese word for potato, a crop first introduced in India by the Portuguese.)

The popularity of Café Central remains undiminished. It is now run by Ravindra Gayatonde (founder’s grand-nephew) and his partner Kedar Bandekar. A few jewels from the icon’s culinary collection are displayed below. I was given unfettered access to the cavernous interiors of the very busy kitchen attached to the store. In an environment thick with flour particulate and sputtering oil, wielding the camera was a bit of a challenge.

This is the Panjim of my childhood – elegant and uncrowded, a far cry from the swamp it has now turned into. The arrow points to the original location of Café Central. The structure on the left of the frame has given way to today’s hideous Velhos & Filhos building.

Original location of Café Central in Panjim

Original location of Café Central in Panjim
Photo credit: Snapshots of Indo-Portuguese History by Vasco Pinho

 
Atmaram S. Gayatonde

Atmaram S. Gaitonde, Founder of Café Central
Photo courtesy: Ravindra Gayatonde

 
Café Central - current location

Café Central today
5D, 24-105L

 
World's #1 samosa

World's #1 samosa
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Bread toast

Fatio - bread toast
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake

Melt-in-the-mouth chocolate cake
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
World's second-best batatavada

World's second-best batata-vada
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Jagdish Pednekar, member of the culinary staff

Jagdish Pednekar, member of the culinary team
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Brisk business

Open for business
5D Mark II, 24-105L

 

All the posts in my ongoing series on Panjim‘s heritage are consolidated here.

 
 
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  • Godwin Correya - May 26, 2015 - 1:14 am

    This brings back my nostalgic memories samosas cakes, soft milk bread not to forget hotReplyCancel

  • Gautam Mukerjea - May 25, 2015 - 11:02 pm

    Rajanbab, this is such a lovely story….can we publish it in the Planet Goa magazine…I do think it’ll look lovely in print…..do let me know at my mail id pls….ReplyCancel

  • Krishnakant Kamat - May 25, 2015 - 9:38 pm

    Its so nicely been put up by you Rajanbab. These old heritage refreshes you and feels so nice to read the past. Please continue the same and you may also write about the other business establishments which are still continuing. Great!!!ReplyCancel

  • Aysha Sheikh, c/o Htl Neptune - May 25, 2015 - 1:54 pm

    lovely write up Mr Rajan Parrikar! It took me down memory lane! Very informative for our future generation! We grew up snacking here for school and b’dy partys!ReplyCancel

  • KulaSekhar - May 25, 2015 - 3:29 am

    Thank You Mr Rajan Parrikar for such a Wonderful write up on Cafes of Panjim. We are all Lovers of these Cafes and consider them as our Heritage.
    Thank You Once again.
    Regards
    Sekhar.ReplyCancel

  • […] a chosen shop that its members patronized (similar loyalty obtained in matters of tailors, grocers, cafés, and so on). Barbearias were also the chat rooms of that era, an important community router […]ReplyCancel

  • Karuna Ganguli - June 25, 2012 - 3:34 am

    Hi, I am new to Goa and I love reading all about this place, a heavenly creation of God.
    Thanks indeed for sharing tit bits of Goa’s interesting past and the present.
    I came to know of your blog when I was going ga ga about all the products of Cafe Central.ReplyCancel

  • Abhijit Gayatonde - January 12, 2012 - 1:34 pm

    Thank you Rajanbab for clicking such amazing photographs of cafe central and writing such a nice review abt cafe central.
    It feels great to know that people have such good memories and love cafe central so much…ReplyCancel

  • Orlando de Melo - December 29, 2011 - 11:21 am

    My dad owned Olimpex near the church steps and after finishing home work my Dad used to buy the fresh baked bread when Cafe Central was in the Jesuit House. What a treat!!! Thanks for the memories.ReplyCancel

  • B. Colaco - December 24, 2011 - 1:19 am

    Congratulations for taking the reader through the Goan origins. In the golden days Cafe Central was also famous for its BUN PAO. Sweetened bread with butter. Bun pao e cha com leite were the afternoon delights. The owners were family friends. They owned a white VW driven by ‘Bitush’ a mechanic from ex Robert Happ mostly in the evenings.ReplyCancel

  • Jayme Ferrer - December 22, 2011 - 3:32 pm

    mian mian!ReplyCancel

  • Naguesh Bhatcar - December 22, 2011 - 10:41 am

    Growing up in Panjim, I remember having visited Cafe Central often, in its old/original location. We were regular visitors, buying their fresh loaf of bread in the evenings — the large one for 50 paisa and the smaller one for 25 paisa!

    The old setup was designed on the lines of the Irani restaurants of Bombay. There used to hang a sign in the premises, that said in Marathi, “Piyush tayar ahey”.

    I also remember having seen/met Mam Gaitonde, Shankarbab and Sadabab – who have all passed away. They were all good friends of my father.

    We were all disappointed, when Cafe Central was moved to its current location in the early 70s. Thankfully, the quality and taste of their products has not changed over the years. Ravi has definitely maintained the high standards that his predecessors have set.ReplyCancel

  • VM - December 22, 2011 - 4:28 am

    The first cafe of this specific type that opened in Panjim was actually Tato, around 1910.ReplyCancel

    • Rajan P. Parrikar - December 22, 2011 - 12:34 pm

      VM, Café Tato opened in 1913, and will be covered in Part 2. But even earlier than that there was Shivramachi Brahmani.ReplyCancel

  • jc - December 22, 2011 - 12:40 am

    Rajanbab ….Make it the World’s third-best batata-wada. I claim second spot (:-)

    Am glad you too have called out the concrete massacre of that once quaint Panjim Garden quadrangle – by the Velho’s, the Jesuits and Tony D’Souza …et al.

    What a travesty!

    Thanks for that delightful journey to the days of my childhood too.ReplyCancel

  • Vijay Kamat - December 22, 2011 - 12:34 am

    Kudos Rajanbab for starting a series on eateries of Panjim.
    I fondly remember eating mouthwatering Mutton Xacuti at a small eatery near Post Office, during my college days.ReplyCancel

The crater lake Ljótipollur (“Ugly Puddle”) in the central Highlands of Iceland was formed in an explosion in the 15th C along the Torfajökull Volcanic System.

“The name in Icelandic has the contradictory meaning of “Ugly Pool” and could be explained by geothermal activity and murky water shortly after the eruption, of which there is no indication now.” [Ari Trausti Guðmundsson in Focus on Iceland, SALKA Publisher, 2008]

 
Ljótipollur, Iceland

Ljótipollur, Highlands of Iceland
5D Mark II, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 Makro Planar

 
Ljótipollur

Ljótipollur
5D Mark II, TS-E 24L II

 
 
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  • sanjeev - December 19, 2011 - 12:54 pm

    Looks like the creator’s cauldron.

    surreal !!ReplyCancel