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Habanero: a mini-Texas in Goa

Story: Karan Sehgal | 17th July 2017, 04:21 Hrs

There are not many bars and restaurants in Goa offering authentic cuisine and freshly brewed beer at the same time. If you ever craved for this, visit Habanero Goa at Baga, where your wait for the perfect cuisine will end, writes Karan Sehgal

It’s been a while that Mexican food made significant inroads in the cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, but, until recently, there wasn’t really a full-fledged restaurant in Goa serving this cuisine. \rThat wait came to an end after Habanero Goa started in December 2016 in Baga. Ever since then, tourists and locals are thronging the place to savor the best of Tex-Mex cuisine like nachos, quesadillas, fajitas, burritos and enchiladas. \rAs if that wasn’t enough, in May, this year, Master Brewer Aditya Challa and his team set up a microbrewery at Habanero Goa. Thanks to this, people can now have freshly brewed beer along with the food at the restaurant. \rHabanero is a brand of restaurants owned by a couple in Bangalore. Prior to coming to Goa, restaurants owned by this brand had already been a huge success in Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. \rHabanero Goa is a franchise restaurant, which is owned by brother-sister duo of Rohan and Pooja Ghotage. Explaining the concept behind the restaurant, Rohan said, “We are a Tex-Mex restaurant, which serves the most authentic Mexican food in the whole of Goa. We use fresh produce and make a lot of ingredients on our own, like chips and sauces.” \rRohan continued, “The premises of the restaurant boasts of design based on Hacienda architecture to keep the look and feel very Mexican. We have an open-sitting area, but if guests prefer AC, then we have that as well.” \r Rohan added further, “The Habanero Goa menu includes everything we, in India, have come to love about Tex-Mex cuisine like nachos, quesadillas, fajitas, burritos and enchiladas. You get the best of seafood, meats and vegetarian options. Habanero also has a kids section with smaller bites like burger sliders and an IndiaMex section for those who prefer tastes from closer to home.” \rTex-Mex cuisine has a lot of meat, vegetables and sauces and therefore it’s a great idea to pair it with a beer. That’s where Aditya and his team came into picture to set up a microbrewery inside Habanero Goa. \rAditya said, “We brew three variants of beer called Susegado Dorado (India Pale Ale), Susegado Patrao (Vanilla Porter) and Susegado Trigo (Mango Wheat Beer).” \rExplaining the idea behind these beers, Aditya said, “These are ales, which are top-fermented beers, while lagers are bottom-fermented. Ales have more flavour, ranging from fruity and citrus to caramel and chocolate. There are more opportunities to build a character in an ale than in a lager.” \rWithout the right ingredients, it is impossible to get the right brew. Aditya is in no mood to compromise on this front, as he said, “We import a strain of yeast from Nottingham in the UK to make Susegado Dorado; even the malt and hops for this beer are imported from the UK.” \rBeing in Baga and serving freshly brewed beer with Tex-Mex cuisine, one would imagine that the focus of Habanero Goa is predominantly tourists. But, Rohan said, “We are targeting both – tourists as well as locals. We started in December, which was season time, and therefore we had a lot of foreign tourists coming in. But, we have also done outdoor catering for a lot of events in Panaji like Great Escapade.” \rAnd, when it comes to catering to a wide variety of palates, it helps that Habanero has a very diversified menu, as Rohan explained, “One can also choose from a variety of light bites like the Holy Guacamole, which is made fresh at your table with avocados and served with homemade 100% corn chips. The handmade ‘Jalapeno Poppers,’ \ror the ‘Macho Nachos’ that come in mini or macho sizes, are other light \rfavourites.” \rBased on this, it can be said that Habanero has made a good start and it appears that it will be a long and interesting journey for this restaurant in Goa.
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