A chapel leads to it…

It all started with a love story: my brother’s, not mine. He fell in love with a talented young lady from Ribandar (a little town located between Panjim and Old Goa). On subsequent visits to her home, I fell in love with the cutlet pao found near her home.

Some matches are made in heaven. This one was made in a chapel.

The Nossa Senhora da Remedios Chapel sits, pristine in white, at the Ribandar Patto. Look beyond its religious purpose and an obstructed view of the tranquil Mandovi river and to its side, is hidden a tiny fast food joint. Teixeira (pronounced te-sher) is named after its owner, Bernard J Teixeira.

Bernard started Teixeira’s two decades back. The former bodybuilder grew up cooking for himself – much of it being the meaty fare necessary to build his body. He was complimented on his cooking and so, decided to rent a small room attached to the chapel and start selling it.

Bernard is shy. He will answer questions in monosyllables, often passing the (invisible) mic to his staff. He prefers being in the kitchen; here, it’s a crowded, sectioned off area dividing the room into two parts. The high wall shields the gas stove, blackened through years of use. Every day, Bernard can be found standing near the stove, frying up slices of Teixeira’s most beloved fare: cutlet pao. His version has a finely sliced prime cut of beef, marinated in a special masala and local vinegar, coated with rava and fried. Stuffed between bread, covered with sliced cabbage and fried rava crumbs, it is best eaten hot.

The star of the cutlet pao is a thick slice of beef, coated in rava and fried till crisp.

The limited menu also offers chicken cafreal, chicken fry, beef chilli fry, beef cutlets, chicken cutlets and sausage bread.   

I enjoy eating there because Teixeira’s has what millenials call quirk. There are just four tables with plastic chairs, with walls that are yellow and grubby but not dirty. These are plastered with an assortment of old newspaper clippings about Goan news, advertisements, church announcements, and cutouts of religious figures and bodybuilders. I learn about Pope John Paul’s visit to India and the sordid lives of WWE stars. It’s like a scrapbook but put out on display.

People don’t come here to ‘chill’. They order, eat (quietly and with relish) and leave. Bernard or ‘Uncle’ will exchange an odd greeting or two with some of them. Many come to parcel the food, which becomes their contribution to the family dinner. His beef chilli and cutlet pao have been part of many of my family dinners.

If you can’t find it, the dogs will lead you to it [village folk tell me the owner loves feeding the strays who crowd its entrance waiting for him].

At Ribandar Patto (take any bus heading towards Old Goa). Open from 6pm to midnight, except on Sundays and feast days. Cost ranges from Rs 30 – Rs 90, no card payment.
Accessibility: it’s a rough gravel path and there’s a small step at entrance. Eco note: takeaways are given in plastic bags.

Note: I wrote about this place for a selection of tips for the website, Touring Bird.

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