Today I’m in the Waterloo area of London sampling the delights of a new food fusion. Goan and Portuguese at Assado. First a bit of history.
Portuguese explorers sailed the world in the 15th and 16th centuries, discovering and mapping the coasts of Asia, Africa and Brazil. I can remember the exotic-sounding names of Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan from early history lessons. It’s said that they were the first to experiment with spices like cinnamon, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. They shared their discoveries with other Europeans and are also believed to have influenced the local cuisines of countries they explored.
Assado means roast in Portuguese, and the restaurant is the brainchild of Indian chef Cyrus Todiwala. Cyrus was born in India and moved to the UK to open up his first restaurant, the acclaimed Cafe Spice Namaste. Assado opened just over a year ago. The menu makes for fascinating reading. Not only are there Portuguese influences, it has a touch of Britishness too.
There’s a good selection of street food to get started with. We opted for the prawn rissoles – diced prawns simmered in a rich veloute, rolled in pastry and crumbs, fried and served with goats cheese mayo, I know, not your usual Indian fare. Fresh prawns in a beautifully creamy sauce, wrapped in crispiness and served with mayo heaven. Seriously, goats cheese mayo is the way to go. Who’d have thought?
Next up, croquettes. One of my favourite morsels, I eat croquettes liberally in Spanish restaurants so was interested to try this Indian take. They were filled with curried beef mince and served with garlic mayonnaise. A beautiful balance of spices and the most perfectly crunchy outside…and more delicious mayo. Assado dished up some of the best mayo I’ve tasted in a long time!
Choosing mains was difficult as there were several intriguing options. The lamb xacutti was described as being probably the most complicated of Goan curries with complex flavours from 21 ingredients. It had that lovely depth and roundness that only the exact combination of Indian spices can produce. Delightful.
I always have to sample the naan when I visit an Indian restaurant for the first time. Today’s garlic naan had the added flavours of chilli and fresh coriander. Light and spicy.
I opted for the fish recheado. Sea bass fillets infused with Goan red masala, flavoured with tamarind and rushed shrimps. Two plump fillets arrived, smothered in a delight of spiciness. It’s so hard to get the balance of spice right to avoid flavours overwhelming the fish (when I’m cooking, anyway) and this was a triumph. The sweetness of the fish came shining through, perfectly complemented by the sauce. The fish was served with spicy little potatoes and was melt-in-the-mouth soft.
Portions were generous (and good value, too) so sadly we had no room for dessert today. But I really must go back. There’s a delicious-sounding pork belly dish that must warrant a taster, Assadi fish and chips – mildly spiced – and a slow-roast rotisserie chicken to consider. I’m loving this fusion combination.
Assado is at 157 Waterloo Road. It also does takeaways at its Grab and Go counter.