Experience Portuguese Heritage  on a Plate with Chef Balaji at Maai, Goa


June 17, Goa: Take a step away from the sand as you get lost in the goodness of Portuguese inspired cuisine where the artistic chefs at MAAI know the way to your heart. Under the divine roof of the 120-year-old Villa that has stood the test of time; witness something magical in every bite, each ingredient narrating a story of its own. The inspirations and the blends of unique spices and masalas brought together onto your plate will forge an unforgettable memory in your mind. Unwind into the flavours of fresh recipes that embody the soul of Goa, locally sourced and authentically made there’s more than what meets the eye at MAAI.

Without getting lost in the sea of restaurants, giving the crashing waves and the other-wordly heavenly spirit of Goa a new destination, the gastronomical palace of MAAI stands apart by narrating an ode of its own, sharing a philosophy deeply rooted in rich legacy, creating a cosy ambience that only reeks of tranquillity. If you truly want to divulge in the rich heritage of Goan cuisines, then MAAI is where your feet should take you. Being amongst the only few restaurants in the world to curate Portuguese-inspired dishes, the extensive menu serves high-quality vegetarian and vegan dishes making it the state’s most loved delicacies and dishes designed with locally sourced spices and ingredients to capture space of its own in the visitor’s heart. Chef Balaji is an artist when it comes to connecting the traditional Goan culture with food and adding a twist to the native dishes, and perfectly customising them for their precious customers. The man behind the extraordinary Portuguese inspired recipes has only one goal in mind- bringing a smile to the guest’s face. With a specialisation in Indian and Western cuisines and with an increasing awareness of intolerance towards certain ingredients amongst the new-gen and tourists, Chef Balaji doesn’t leave any stone unturned when it comes to concocting the perfect dish that caters to the specific needs of the guests; delivering pure excellence and satisfaction to everyone coming to their doorstep. Keeping in touch with the theme of the place MAAI meaning motherland, the menu has been specially designed to replicate the magic of a mother’s cooking and give the patrons a feeling of home.

Although each dish is beloved to its creator, made with love and attention to detail, Chef Balaji can be found guilty of loving some dishes more than others and recommends some of his personal favourites that you must try to get your hands on. A firm believer in living a simple yet flavorful life, coming up first in the Chef’s list of favourites is the Edamame Hummus made with pods of soybeans, this creamy delight is served with poi topped with extra virgin olives and smoked paprika perfectly weaved together with some unique flavours always earning compliments for its taste and texture. Contrary to the vegan version the hummus is also served in non-vegetarian style with a minor effect of change adding smoked Goan pork sausages with the hummus. Next up is the Pepper Spiced Mutton whichstands out from the rest for its subtle flavours and rich aroma taking the taste to new levels, the black pepper is the key factor as the spice is home grown and the fresh curry leaves give the meat a soft and smooth texture, served along with scrumptious veggies, the dish is elegant and enticing to relish in. If you don’t have much of an appetite then the small plates might be the right pick for you, starting from Beetroot Galettes, Raw Banana Cutlets to Chicken Skewers, Pan Seared Prawns and Pepper Spiced mutton – there’s something for everyone. For the health-conscious in you, the vegan couscous, Quinoa and Kenya bean salads will fill your heart with clean joy. Some of the mains like the Suya Marinated Chicken and the in-house special Maai Chorizo Lasagne will aptly help you to savour the rich taste of the Goan cuisine. The steamed corn and ginger curry, a vegetarian take on the fish curry with the use of locally sourced Amaranth and the inspired Goan fish curry prepared with the traditional spices and method are sure to leave an everlasting impression on your tastebuds.

“Maai is a canvas and I got a lot of freedom to showcase what Maai meant to me,” says Chef Balaji. “I have to allow the food to tell the story and speak for itself. Today apart from the travellers our local guests travel from the outskirts of goa and even from the deep parts of south goa and old goa come to Maai because of the food and warm service.”

There is intelligence than there is liquid intelligence, at MAAI everything has a perfect pair to fit with, serving you the best the restaurant serves the most fascinating cocktails to suit your
Brunch, lunch and most certainly romantic dinners. Starting with the “Whole lotta soul” which is an inspiration from Goan cuisine and with the use of kokum through this cocktail, Maai brings the soul of Goa into a glass of Gin.  The “Maai Sage” will bring in the nostalgic moments of our childhood of eating guava sprinkled with red pepper and salt, Maai’s personal take on a sage-infused tequila-based cocktail with homemade guava, & home-grown pepper liqueur.

Standing tall in the bylanes of Assagao, MAAI promises to wow you with its Portuguese minimalism yet enigmatic and enticing décor, the food and beverage, and overall ambience which will leave you wanting more. MAAI believes in constantly innovating and reinventing itself to keep the Goan spirit alive, becoming an unstoppable force, the dynamic team of Ranbir Nagpal, Atul Chopra, Gurmeet Singh Arora (of Yazu fame) and Columbus Marquis, Goan hotelier & restauranteur, aim to continue their endeavours with a calendar full of fun events and activities, that are healthy and of course, inspired!

Address – H.No 491 Baunta, Gumal Vaddo, Assagao, Goa 403507

Number – 9699772306