Chef Rohan D’Souza On How He Brought A Taste Of Goa To Mumbai

For Mumbaikars who exist in a harried existence of a concrete jungle, Goa acts as the nearest escape to paradise. The beaches, the music, the food. All offer the enticing (and achievable) opportunity to disconnect, slow down and enjoy life for a little while before you clock in again on Monday morning. But next time you’re craving a moment of peace, you might not need to start booking tickets because a taste of Goa has now come to a verdant little spot in Khar in the form of The Coconut Boy.

This spot aims to bring more than just great Goan food, it plans to encapsulate the art of ‘susegad’ in a hub of food, drinks, music and fun. Conceptualised by Hitesh Keswani (Silver Beach Cafe, Opa, Estella), Chef Rohan D'Souza, (Pisco By The Bech, Lazy Goose, Toro Toro) and Praveena D'Souza (Lazy Goose, Blue Turtle Goa, Toro Toro), the trio who have a proven track record of success together and are on a mission to share and celebrate the wealth of Goan culture and food

The Coconut Boy has been making waves already since it opened last month and is ramping up to be a completely new experience in the world of Goan cuisine for Mumbaikars who would otherwise have to schlep 600 kilometres for the opportunity. To learn more about what’s going on behind the scenes and how The Coconut Boy is here to change the way Mumbai eats. 

When did cooking become your passion?

Acquiring the skill to cook in the hospitality industry came into interest when I did a working holiday stint at the Taj Goa. I then further went to a reputed industry professional school, further shaping my basic knowledge and skills where I cooked under some of the best chefs on cruise ships and speciality restaurants. 

What are some misconceptions you see about local cuisines, especially from those who haven’t grown up in that culture?

Like every regional cuisine only a local who has been eating this meal as a staple understands the flavours and nuances of the cuisine. Goan cuisine is traditionally rich in heritage with lots of influences from the catholic Portuguese dishes to the Saraswat Hindu dishes. There are minor differences between the food which comes from south Goa and the north. Misconceptions are plenty and real authentic goan food is found in the hole-in-the-wall local places visited by the locals and not in the commercial shacks where the cuisine is tweaked to the tourist. Secondly, every household has a different version of say a fish curry and it’s not a by-the-book recipe like in most cuisines. 

What does The Coconut Boy bring that offers a new perspective for Mumbai diners looking for Goan food?

Having lived out of Mumbai for almost a decade now I’ve never found soulful goan Cuisine in my search for it. There was a big market lag in terms of real homely style goan food and hence once we knew the experience, expertise and infrastructure to support the cuisine was in place we went ahead with the execution. When it comes to perspectives lots of good real good food cooked and served right. 

What are the highlights of the Coconut Boy Menu, and what are some of your favourites? 

All our red meat dishes pack a punch. Our curries, from the stone groundfish/ prawn curry to the Xacutis, Caldeen to the vindaloo. Lots of seafood the famous sea perch famously known as Chonak, lots of mud crabs, stuffed squids, prawn stuffed pappad to name a few and difficult for me personally as a chef and a local as everything is delicious. 

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When someone dines at Coconut Boy, what do you hope they experience?

The transition was not tough, lots of our new clients were waiting for this, Goa is an average 3 times a year visit for a lot of Mumbaikars and over the years the cuisine has become very popular. We have also got a real vibrant ambience, our warm hospitality just like the Goans are known for and our lively atmosphere with our talented live bands make it a place where you will keep coming back. 

Rapid Fire Round

  • Must-have ingredients in your kitchen: Toddy vinegar and Kashmir chilly 
  • Your go-to comfort food: A Good curry or Biryani 
  • The dishes that you most enjoy cooking: I love seafood, anything seafood 
  • One dish that encapsulates the soul of Goa for you: The Ambo Tik- soulful got its punch, flavour, spice and is an underrated gravy but the best.