Ankita Fernandes Who Loves Her Catch Absolutely Fresh
Image Credit: Ankita Fernandes

Having grown up around a family that loves to talk about food and later shadowing her father who ran Mumbai’s most iconic seafood restaurant, Ankita, 30, was introduced to cooking since her early middle school days. When the time came to choose a career vocation, Ankita decided to study medicine on her grandmother’s suggestion. Soon enough, she realised food was her passion. 

How did your background of coming from a culinary family shape up your journey?

Growing up, I was always surrounded by professionals from the hospitality industry working in 5-star hotels, be it my father or my uncles. The stories they told me from the industry fascinated me so much that I knew this was the path for me. Right through my schooling days, my dad would lock himself and me in the kitchen and cook a dish together. Learning the importance of ingredients in a certain delicacy to creating new dishes, I enjoyed being in the kitchen with my father. It wasn't surprising to my family when I wanted to take up hotel management. I knew my father would teach me all that he knew from his experience in hotels and restaurants but I still wanted to learn about hospitality from the other parts of the world too to make my journey whole.

Fresh Catch sees a menu that’s pretty innovative depending on the catch that you get. How do regular customers respond to this style of menu?

Just as our name, we focus on only serving the best produce of the day caught fresh in the wee hours of the morning, especially for us. However, to avoid being ambiguous, we offer base curries and masalas where you choose the fish and decide which Goan or Mangalorean preparation you want it to be cooked in. The guests love it as it's bespoke and they also appreciate the staff explaining the catch to them while offering which dish they should opt for, depending on their liking.

For someone who is new to Karwari cuisine, how would you like to introduce it to them?

Honavar, to be particular, is a very small close-knit town that shares its border with Karnataka and Goa. Our cuisine is influenced by both states which means we are a blend of Goan and Mangalorean cuisine. Knowing both types of food, they are stalwarts of seafood; Which makes our cuisine very exotic and tasty.

Does the place see Karwari family heirloom recipes? Do you keep those as trade secrets?

Yes, we most certainly do. Every household has a way of preparing a certain dish. Even though the fish and the ingredients are the same, the way each family member follows the process makes all the difference. My grandmother taught my father to grind masalas and do the perfect fish fries. My father perfected those recipes even more and passed that knowledge onto me which makes it my most prized possession and now they are definitely trade secrets.

You have travelled a lot, how has that enhanced you culinary skills?

I've always wanted to travel and see the world. During my boarding school in Ooty, I learned how simple yet diverse south Indian food can be. Post which it was Switzerland where I studied in one of the best hotel schools of the world, Cèsar Ritz. I was blown away by the exposure I received from different cultures of the world through my professors and fellow batchmates and how food can be synonymous with joy you can share with anyone. Post which, I moved for my management training to the States where I learned that "the bigger and messier the better" type of food. Burgers, huge desserts, the best meatloafs, and roast/grills opened my eyes to another universe of food.

What is your idea of innovation when it comes to food?

I'd like to talk about the cuisine we serve at Fresh Catch. We try to stick to our roots of making traditional curries, sukkas and grilled fish while making it gourmet. We procure local ingredients from our hometowns in Honavar, Karwar, Goa, and Mangalore to ensure the food is authentic and the quality is of the highest order.

What are your favourite ingredients to cook with?

Coconuts!! (The South Indian in me speaks up) Even a sprinkle of it in a sautéed dish or a Sukka brings out a nutty flavour that is unmatched.

What has been your idea of comfort food? What’s your fondest food memory?

Comfort food for me is Goan Red rice with a mild coconut curry, fish fry, baby mango pickle, and papad on the side. Yum! I remember having this meal along the riverside of our native place during vacations and it brings back nostalgic memories every time.

What’s that dish that you love to cook for your family? Share a recipe too

Fresh Catch - Mixed Seafood Soup

- 200 ml of Whole white Prawns (along with head) stock made from scratch

- 20 gms Clams / Sippy de-shelled

- 20 gms Crab meat deshelled

- 20 gms Calamari rings

- 2 teaspoon Cornflour slurry

- Salt to taste

- Black Pepper

- 1 Cilantro stem finely chopped

- 2/3 celery leaves finely chopped

- 1 green Chilli slit


    Bring the stock to a boil and add the crustaceans till cooked. Usually takes about 3 mins.

    Add the remaining ingredients except the celery and cook for another 2-3 mins. 

    Take out the chilly to avoid getting the soup extra spicy.

    Turn the heat off and add the celery leaves and let them sit for a minute for the celery flavour to be absorbed in the soup.

Serve piping hot.