Happy New Year Guys! Hope you guys had a great 2017. So, I’m starting the new year off with a short article, shorter than usual because I just decided to make a short visit to this beautiful place and the food was quite filling. Vegetarian Food is not as easy to come across in Goa as it seems. It’s not the question of lack of places but just finding these places, Goa is always full of hidden gems and much more prominent restaurants that are the classic go-to-places for all vegetarians. However, what separates a good restaurant from an excellent one is when their food is so good that they start pulling in a large number of non-veg loving customers. Artjuna in Anjuna is one of those few places.
Pic Credits: Artjuna Website
Nestled in a beautiful, old Portuguese house. The place is filled with good vibes and a very chilled out ambience. The best part of it is everything is organic, fresh and made in-house. The perfect haven to take a break from your busy life, eat clean, breathe clean and just rejuvenate yourself. Walking into this beautiful property is such a great feeling. A cafe, a lifestyle boutique, a children’s play area, a yoga area which also has a few cycles and equipment along with an area for kickboxing with different activities on different days. The Cafe is run by an Israeli lad called Moshe who’s pretty much a Goan at heart. Moshe and his wife Anastasia moved to Goa well over 2 decades ago. Back then Moshe was one of the first few people, if not the first to start making and selling leather products at the Anjuna Flea market. The boutique slowly turned into a cafe serving up fresh juices, salads, coffees, desserts and many Israeli inspired dishes featuring age-old recipes from Moshe’s family back in Israel. The restaurant serves up pure vegetarian food, a lot of them vegan dishes.
Artjuna’s owner and founder, Moshe along with his wife and kids (Pic Credits: Artjuna Website)
One of the most interesting things at Artjuna aside from their food is that their staff is fully made up of locals. That’s right, everyone from their gardeners to the cooks, from the service staff to the shop employees. In a day and age where labor is one of the biggest problems in Goa and it is nearly impossible to attract local Goan people, Moshe deserves a giant salute for creating a family-like atmosphere and his humble and loving qualities that help in creating a very hardworking and passionate workforce made up of people from the local Anjuna village, as well as in and around Mapusa.
I started off with a Quinoa salad that featured quinoa, green beans, cherry tomato, spring onions and aubergine topped with fresh feta cheese, pomegranate, and chopped almonds. The salad also had a yogurt-tahini dressing. The salad was great and extremely filling, unlike your traditional salad. The sweetness of the pomegranate, saltiness from the cheese, the crunch from the almonds and the soft texture of the quinoa, this salad was not just a superb play on flavors but also textures.
I then had a bowl of fresh hummus with grilled mushrooms, served with spicy chutney, freshly baked pita bread and pickled vegetables. Really good quality hummus which definitely owes to Moshe’s Israeli background. Again the quantity is great, can be easily shared among two people. The quantity at Artjuna is exceptional. Also, their pita bread is baked fresh at their in-house bakery on the property. They also use top quality ingredients and import many of their items like Tahini, Extra Virgin Olive Oil. There’s no compromise on quality here.
It was a pretty hot afternoon when I visited and the idea of fresh smoothies, juices and more sounded really good. I started with a simple blend of juice called The Energizer. Almost blood red in color, the drink featured carrot, orange, beetroot, ginger, and cinnamon. Very refreshing and just as equally healthy. I then decided to go in for two smoothies, one that was strongly recommended was the Jamuna Smoothie which once again featured fresh Jamun that were frozen and stored so that they could try and serve this smoothie for as long as possible even during the off-season. It tasted as good as it looked, a vibrant purple color and very rich and velvety on the palate. Once again you can easily make out that there is absolutely no compromise on the quality and amount of Jamun used.
I also tried a coco turmeric smoothie that had banana, pineapple, coconut, turmeric, ginger, chia seeds and cinnamon. A refreshing and healthy smoothie yet again, creamy and quite tropical. The additions of chia seeds, cinnamon, turmeric and coconut milk make this one super healthy! Artjuna looks like they are pros at making healthy food and drinks taste excellent.
I ended my meal with a Homemade Pesto Pasta. My culinary experience at Artjuna has certainly been elevated thanks to the use of fresh, organic and high-quality ingredients so far and it really does show in every bite you take. The Cafe’s Manager Udi Etinger had told me on arrival that a fresh batch of pasta is made every day in the kitchen and I was lucky enough to dine at the restaurant at the same time where they were making the pasta, so I did get a chance to see the actual process. It’s just amazing that in a world filled with processed and adulterated food we still have these wonderful gems hidden in corners that serve pure food the way its meant to be served. Unlike processed and packaged pasta, fresh pasta takes 2-3 minutes to cook max, depending on the type of pasta. A Pesto sauce for those of you that don’t know is made primarily using basil and olive oil, there was also pine nuts and garlic and it was delicious. The highlight of my entire meal so far, though my meal wasn’t that big.
Unfortunately, for now, this is where my review ends. A quick stop at Artjuna was enough to fall in love with the place, so I can’t even imagine what will happen if you guys spend a few hours there. Do try out their Shakshuka which is an extremely popular dish at the cafe, you can also try their wide range of desserts and also drop by for breakfast. The cafe has also launched a special menu on certain days that features new dishes and even the addition of fish. So do drop by and try out their food, you certainly won’t be disappointed and don’t forget to drop some comments to let me know what you tried.