Family traditions and secret recipes: The story behind Ashok Bar and Restaurant

In the heart of Fontainhas, Goan flavours weave stories of heritage. From secret family recipes to deep-rooted community spirit, Veda Raut of The Goan discovers the essence of Goa's culinary legacy at Ashok Bar & Restaurant

| MAY 18, 2024, 11:39 PM IST
Family traditions and secret recipes: The  story behind Ashok Bar and Restaurant

Tucked away within the quaint bylanes of Fontainhas, just behind the Head Post Office, lies a hidden culinary treasure that has been delighting locals and visitors alike for over five decades. Ashok Bar and Restaurant, a family-owned establishment, has stood the test of time with its rich history and authentic Goan flavours. Stepping into this warm and welcoming eatery, you're instantly embraced by a sense of nostalgia and tradition, where the tantalising aroma of their famous xacuti promises a memorable dining experience. Vallabh Narvekar, the current owner, shares the heartfelt journey of his family's legacy.

A legacy of flavour

Ashok Bar and Restaurant was established in 1969 by Vallabh’s father and his uncle, Krishna and Pandurang Narvekar. For 55 years, this establishment has been serving up its famous chicken xacuti and mutton xacuti, made from a secret family recipe.

When asked about the origin of the restaurant’s name, Vallabh shared, "I don't know exactly, but I assume it might be inspired by the patriotic Ashoka Chakra. There's no one named Ashok in our family."

A family endeavour

Vallabh officially took over the reins in 1999 after completing his hotel management studies. "I was involved even during my college days, but since 1999, I have been running the place full-fledged with my father," he recalls.

While the core essence of Ashok Bar and Restaurant has remained the same, there have been minor adjustments over the years. "Originally, we only served chicken xacuti made from the 'gauti kombe' (local chicken). When it became hard to source, we switched to regular chicken and added mutton xacuti. Occasionally, we offer chicken chilli Goan style as a special dish."

Preserving the past, embracing the future

The recipes at Ashok Bar and Restaurant are a treasured family legacy, passed down from Vallabh’s grandmother and his uncle Krishna. "My mother used to make the masala, and now my wife continues that tradition," says Vallabh.

In recent years, Fontainhas has seen a surge in tourism, and the neighbourhood has become a hotspot for new restaurants. However, Vallabh views this positively. "There’s no real competition. It’s great that more people are visiting the area. We support each other, and it benefits everyone."

A hub of authenticity and community

Despite the influx of tourists, Ashok Bar and Restaurant remains deeply rooted in its Goan heritage. "Our xacuti is our pride, and we strive for perfection in serving this traditional dish to our customers from all over Goa, Maharashtra, Bangalore, and beyond," Vallabh proudly states. The power of social media has brought in visitors from far and wide, transforming what was once a local favourite into a destination spot.

The essence of Goa is palpable here, not just through the food but also through the vibrant community spirit. "Local customers keep the Goan essence alive. They come here to chat, share a drink, and enjoy their xacuti. It's a place where people can engage in conversations, whether about politics or everyday life. It’s truly a local hub."

Staying true to its roots

While there have been some updates, such as tiling, the overall aesthetic of Ashok Bar and Restaurant has remained consistent since the 1960s. "The essence and charm are still the same," Vallabh assures us.

Whether you're a local or a tourist, you'll feel at home in this timeless establishment, where the essence of Goa is cherished and shared with every guest. Come for the food, stay for the camaraderie, and leave with memories that linger long after the last bite.

Share this