What’s in a name? A bread is a bread, call it by any name some would argue. Pao, unndo, katre pao, kakon and poie are varieties of bread available in Goa. Each differs from the other and has its own peculiar features.
So, when Savio George and his family chose to start a restaurant focused on serving fresh Goan dishes on the platter, a few questions came Savio’s way as they named it Unndo, which means bread in Konkani.
For the uninformed, Goan bread unndo or pao and its many variations are baked by poders (bakers) spreading the aroma far and wide. A familiar sight of a poder on his bicycle and the sound of the poder’s horn at daybreak is an intrinsic part of Goan life, which is slowly slipping into oblivion.
For Savio, giving tourists a slice of Goa on their plate at his Benaulim restaurant was on his mind and freshly-baked bread and fresh food was the priority. So, unndo was the ultimate choice to name the restaurant.
“I wanted to serve fresh food to customers who came to my restaurant. The bread, which is called unndo, is freshly baked. So, I wanted the customers to come and try the fresh and hot bread,” says Savio, who worked in the cruise industry for more than 20 years until calling it quits to start something of his own.
For Fatorda-born Savio, who has worked on cruise liners, the day starts early in the morning. “We start at 7.30 am, I come to work at 5.30 am, mix the dough and then start making bread. By 7.20 am, the bread is half ready and at 7.30 am the shutter is up and we are ready for operations.”
“When I open in the morning, I have baked around 60 pieces and then it keeps coming till evening. I bake around 300 to 350 pieces of bread daily and all of them are consumed in-house here, not sold outside,” he said.
He added, “Some people like to eat the bread very hot, out of the oven. Sometimes some people like to add butter, sugar. So, at breakfast a lot of people request me to put butter and sugar with their tea or coffee."
The freshly-baked bread is drawing a lot of customers to Unndo. “I give them fresh bread and also my Goan dishes are consumed along with the bread. A lot of people drive especially for the bread and the Goan specialties,” he added.
Unndo has everything for vegetarian and non-vegetarian lovers at breakfast time. “I ask the customers if they are veg or non-veg. If they are veg, we give them mushroom bhaji Goan style and if non-veg we offer ros omelette, which a lot of people like, chicken xacuti, sorpotel, roast beef, roast tongue or sausage bread.”
Continuing the Goan flavour, Unndo serves a thali at lunch which has local elements. “The curry is Goan which is prepared by my mother. She wakes up at 3 am and prepares the dishes and only has to warm them up here at my restaurant."
“At lunch, we serve recheado fish, whether pomfret or mackerel. The recheado masala is made by my mom at home and we only fry the fish here. For dinner, we have sorpotel and sausage bread in the evening. We don’t make rice and only offer sandwiches.”
Besides Goan cuisine, Unndo staff has reworked the menu to include some North Indian and Indian dishes in their breakfast and lunch menu.
“My motto has always been to serve Goa’s golden dishes. So, when I opened the restaurant, I had all Goan dishes. I was not serving any South Indian or North Indian food,” said Savio, who opened his restaurant in July 2022.
But he had to change his menu over time keeping in mind the customer’s demands. “Many of the guests are from outside the state and ask for butter chicken and other dishes. Then I said, okay, let me go with the flow. Then there were people who wanted South Indian dishes. So, I said, let’s do that and I started with the South Indian dishes as well."
Savio says his priority is to give his guests the experience of Goan food. “I am focused on Goan food. A lot of people, who come to my restaurant ask me the meaning of the name of my restaurant and also the tagline that says ‘As Goan As It Gets’. Our motto is to see satisfied customers,” he adds.
So, the next time you are in Benaulim, don't forget this pit stop. Add it to your to-do list in 2024.