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The story of Souza Lobo hotel

Noted Goan restaurateur Jude Lobo tells what it took to run a restaurant at the age of sixteen and turn it into a huge success.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2012 01:45 IST
Shara Ashraf

Jude Lobo was only 16 when he took over the famous Souza Lobo hotel, set on the picturesque Calangute beach in Goa, after his father passed away. The third generation Lobo couldn’t help feeling unnerved as a huge responsibility stared at his face.

“I was quite baffled in the beginning, but my passion for food, my mother’s recipes and the belief in my instincts made us sail through the rough patch,” he says. The eatery that his grandfather had started as a stay-eat-drink weekend place in 1932, was soon a hit among Goan food fanatics. No wonder, when Lobo opened the Delhi extension of his restaurant, it got the same heady response.

The kitchen continues to follow traditional home recipes, passed on over generations. Lobo has ensured the chefs working in his Delhi extension are all home-flown, and there’s no ‘unnecessary creativity’ infused in the dishes.

“My mother preserved the age old recipes, gave them a personal touch and handed them over to our chefs. She’s often in the kitchen herself to make a correction, if required. That’s how we have made sure what we serve is home-cooked khana, and there are no commercial add ons,” says Jude.

Talking about his initial days Jude recalls, “When I took over our hotel in Goa, I realised that we had already started getting a lot of foreign guests. There were long queues of people waiting outside, and just 15 tables. So we turned the hotel into a sprawling restaurant that could sit 360 people at a time,” he shares. The decision of knocking off the hotel rooms worked fabulously and things started falling in place quickly for him.

Jude, who’s often in the kitchen, cooking a lobster thermidor or improvising over a baked crab, may be a seafood fanatic himself, but he has made sure that the green half of the city doesn’t leave unhappy from his restaurant. “People often think that Goan food can only please the non-vegetarians, as it’s primarily about seafood and meat. But we have made an effort to put together vegetarian options too, such as mushroom xacuti or the vegetables xacuti ,” says Jude.

Jude Lobo’s Chili Butter Garlic Crab

Ingredients
1 Dungeness Crab (about 2 lb size)
1 sprig of coriander (chopped for garnishing only)
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp tamarind juice
Salt to taste
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 cup of water

For the spice paste:
8 dried red chilies (soaked in hot water and deseeded)
1 tbsp soy bean paste
3 cloves of garlic
1 inch of fresh ginger
5 seeds of tamarind (to make the tamarind Juice)

Method
1. Clean the crab and chop it into pieces. Save the green and juicy stuff inside the shell and set aside.
2. Pound the spice paste with a mortar and pestle or grind using a food processor. Make sure that the spice paste is finely blended.
3. Soak the tamarind seeds in warm water for 15 minutes. Extract the juice.
4. Heat up the wok and add cooking oil.
5. Stir-fry the spice paste until fragrant and spicy.
6. Add the crab and 1/4 cup of water and do a quick stir. Cover the wok for about three minutes.
7. Add the green and juicy portions and stir well.
8. Add some sugar, tamarind juice, a little salt to taste and continue stirring for about two minutes or until all the crab pieces turn red.
9. Dish up, garnish with chopped scallions and serve hot.