Healthy Hot Spots in Goa
So I know this post is a little bit niche, for which I apologise in advance! I thought I should take a moment to share some healthy hot spots that I discovered when staying in Agonda as I know there are a few of you out there who have trips planned over the next few months!
The best thing about being somewhere like India is the availability of fresh coconuts. You can wander along the street, pick up a coconut for about 30p, drink it with a straw then have it cut open and enjoy the flesh. This was such a great way to rehydrate from a day in the sun or a seriously sweaty yoga class as they are full of natural electrolytes. Despite being away for so long, I didn't actually have a lot of exploring time but of course I took every opportunity to find fresh, healthy food and I definitely wasn't disappointed.
When I arrived in Goa, there was building work everywhere and you could count on one hand the number of restaurants or guest houses that were open for business. Agonda, the little 'town' that I stayed in, is knocked down at the end of each 6-month season in order to protect the buildings from the monsoons and extreme weather. Then, in just a few weeks, the whole place is rebuilt again, almost from scratch, to cater for the new tourists arriving from October. So during my stay I saw the place almost entirely transform as more and more people started to arrive, with some business more ready than others!
Nature Organic only opened for my last week in India. It is in Agonda itself and serves avocado toast, delicious smoothies (I recommend the coconut cardamom one) and even millet chapattis with cashew butter. I also had a delicious stirfry there too, but do check with the waiter as not everything is dairy or gluten free.
Lots of the restaurants in Agonda have a really broad menu with local dishes and some more western inspired food too. Salads are on most menus but I would recommend approaching them with caution, as any raw food must be washed with mineral water, which is hard to guarantee. Jardim al Mar does wonderful Indian and Nepalese food, as well as an avocado salad that I managed to eat safely a few times! Then next door you will find Simrose whose curries I would definitely recommend. H2O is a lovely breakfast spot looking out onto the beach and I had a good salad there too. Then for local food, my two favourite restaurants were Dunhill and Fatima. Both were so accommodating with ensuring my dietary requirements were met. Dunhill even made me a naan using corn flour which is one of the best gluten free breads I have ever tried! I absolutely loved some of the amazing vegetarian curries in the restaurants in Agonda. The one word of warning is that a lot of dishes contain dairy – milk, cream, curd or ghee – so it is worth making sure that they understand to use oil instead if you don’t eat dairy. This also applies for ‘paneer’, a type of soft cheese, which they include in some vegetable curries.
The standard of food in almost every restaurant I tried was really amazing and I felt totally inspired to recreate some of the dishes at home. The only thing was that I did feel a little sick of all the oil from time to time and craved something fresh (ie more vegetables). Hopping in a rickshaw (or jumping on a moped if you are braver than I am) and heading down the road towards Palolem, you will find an awesome health food haven called Space Goa. Space is a restaurant and deli with a really vast menu serving juices, smoothies, breakfasts, salads and the most delicious raw deserts. It is such a lovely spot to hang out with friends, or to sit with your laptop if you are looking for a spot of slightly more reliable wifi than elsewhere in the area! I ate here twice – the first time for lunch where I had the salad with falafel and the second time where I had porridge with a side of falafel. I honestly dreamt of the falafel from the moment I first tasted it and I just had to have it again, even if the waiter was a little bewildered by my request! They were amazingly accommodating though and the combination of the familiar food and the friendly staff there really make you feel so at home! You can also wander into the little deli and pick up some snacks, nut butter, natural beauty products, organic herbs and spices or pink Himalayan salt to help keep you hydrated if you’re sweating in the heat! According to their Facebook Page, they run meditation sessions daily as well as other events although I think I was there too early in the season for those.
Also close by you will find a wonderful health food café called Zest in a place called Patnem. If you are looking for big bowls of vegetables or vegan ice cream, this is definitely a perfect spot. The breakfast menu also looks amazing but I discovered this one too late in my trip to get the chance to go back again. The vegan ice cream was so interesting and totally delicious. I tried a mango sorbet and a chai icecream. It seemed like a slightly odd concept, especially for someone that isn’t really the biggest ice cream fan, but I am now totally obsessed and considering where I could keep an ice cream maker at home just to recreate it! I also totally missed the chocolate cake until I spotted it as I left which looked incredible so if you get a chance for two deserts then those would be my recommendations!
I was also recommended Blue Planet but didn’t get a chance to go there so if you have more time on your hands to explore then that would be the next on my list.
So for anyone planning a trip to South Goa any time soon, I hope these recommendations come in handy! And if you could bring me back some chana masala from Fatima, a palak chickpea curry and a corn naan from Dunhill and some Space Goa falafel I will love you unconditionally!