Tamarin, A Mediterranean Oasis In Calangute
On the busy Calangute-Candolim road, near the prominent Snip Salon and Spa, one walks into an oasis of calm at Tamarin. Set in an urban garden atmosphere, with an extensive menu of unusual dishes from all around the Mediterranean, and an impressive wine list, visiting travelers are awed here. Everything is just perfect, from the Moroccan Prawns to the Lebanese Beef Kibbeh Kebabs and Tunisian Briouats… they never go wrong.
Part-year residents of Goa from Europe who live in the area mingle with local domestic tourists, enjoying the live music here in the evenings. Bilal is responsible for the impeccable flavours and is almost always hands on in the kitchen, whereas his wife Jennifer is out front interacting with guests and making sure their experience is memorable. Bilal and Jennifer fell in love many years ago, when Bilal cooked his first meal for her… Gadh Ghushtaba, a recipe from his home in Kashmir.
After moving to England and getting married, Bilal began working in hospitality, where Jennifer had already carved out a reputation as a chef and later a manager. After completing his training, Bilal worked as a chef at London’s top restaurants such as Quaglino’s, Carluccio’s Cafe and the famed Digby Trout restaurants at the British Museum and Barbican Centre. Inspired by their travels, they decided to fulfill a long-held ambition and opened Tamarin in 2012, serving Mediterranean cuisine. The Kashmiri Wazwaan menu was developed in the second season and has gone from strength to strength with its authentic flavours and impeccable quality… The mutton is to die for.
Bilal was a passionate home cook, having been inspired by his mother from an early age. When he started travelling, his passion and love of Mediterranean food evolved. Having received much praise and encouragement from friends and family who had dined with them, he decided to train professionally whilst living in Central London. His wife has always worked in the industry so it seemed like a natural step for to start up on their own.
The dual menus make Tamarin unique. They researched regional differences in the Mediterranean extensively, such as the ‘Kefalonian Greek Salad’, which has the inclusion of a little bit of chilli. This subtlety suits Goa, the people and the climate. The flavours are bold, un-compromised and authentic, whether you are eating Mediterranean or Kashmiri. The Kashmiri cuisine features a lot of vegetarian options, which people often overlook, assuming it’s mutton all the way. Bom Chount and Nadir Kebabs are unlikely to be found on any other menu in Goa and they bring in the indigenous ingredients direct from the valley. Bilal think it takes a lot of hard work and stamina, as well as courage, to bring something new to the food scene whilst staying true to your goals and vision.