Perhaps ‘dinner on your doorstep’ is, for most of us, a bit of an exaggeration, but if you live in Putney it’s a fact and you will likely be grateful for that Ma Goa proximity. It has that comfy and cosy neighbourhood ambiance that is missing in some Central London restaurants, which have a local catchment only of office workers and tourists. This restaurant is full of local residents and those in the know. Ma Goa is conveniently located just 2 minutes away from Putney British Rail and 5 minutes away from East Putney Tube.
Ma Goa might be a neighbourhood restaurant but it’s celebrated by Indian food aficionados across the city. It has a host of culinary accolades and they are deserved. This small restaurant doesn’t drip glitz but it contrives to offer diners a relaxing and home-like environment in which to unwind and enjoy superb food with friends and family. Yes, even children are welcome!
This isn’t a restaurant dynasty conjured from the imagination of an enthusiastic PR company. This isn’t an Indian restaurant marketing equivalent of Mother’s Pride. Ma Goa does, surprisingly, have a real Ma as the figurehead and inspiration. She is the elegant Mrs Kapoor who, with her son Deepak, continue this family business which has been an icon in Putney since 1993.
The Ma Goa team prepare favourite family dishes using recipes that truly have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the menu items celebrates that lineage with Aunty Bella’s Lamb Kodi, which is diced boneless lamb slow cooked with tomato, whole garam masala and Goan red masala. If you have any doubt about the verity of that family member then staff will take the picture off the wall and show you the originator of the recipe – the real Aunty Bella!
All dishes here are freshly made. I overheard a diner on an adjoining table explaining to her guests that the food here is exceptional and that so many diners are regulars. That’s a fine recommendation, and an unbiased and honest one. I must state that I do have a bias. Ma Goa was included in my book, Capital Spice. It has its own chapter, along with better known establishments and Michelin-starred restaurants. I think the food here can hold its own with the best. Yes, it’s all down to personal taste, but Ma Goa ticks all my epicurean boxes.
Stuffed Papard is a Ma Goa Classic as it states on the menu. It’s a simple starter of lentil-flour parcels filled with spiced potato then pan-fried. These are moreish and an aromatic start to a meal here. But I have a favourite dish on this menu and it’s one I am reluctant to share with even my most loved ones. The portion of Balchao, as with all other dishes here, is substantial but these shrimps in tomato and a spicy ‘balchao’ pickling masala is positively addictive. It does have a belt of heat but great flavour and richness. It’s a must-try at Ma Goa.
Seafood Biryani is another Ma Goa classic and it has great impact. They don’t skimp at Ma Goa. Saffron-laced Basmati rice is topped with flaked salmon, prawns, squid and mussels. Those prawns are split and grilled and take on flavour from the delicate char. The mussels are the largest I have ever seen and presented a delicious and substantial addition to the dish rather than a mere garnish. This is a luxurious and mildly spiced seafood showcase, but at a surprisingly reasonable price.
Perhaps that’s the key to the success of Ma Goa. They have consistently presented the best of ingredients, cooked with dedication and offered at prices that don’t demand a mortgage. The dishes are flavourful and hearty and even those who are regular Indian restaurant-goers will find new temptation on this unique menu. Don’t be surprised if Putney estate agents advertise property with the amenities listed: Handy for schools, good transport links, convenient for Ma Goa.
Closed for week-day lunches in August
Sun: 1.00pm – 2.45pm – (Monday Closed)
Tues – Thurs: 6.30pm – 10.30pm
Fri – Sat: 6.30pm – 11.00pm
Sun: 6.00pm – 10.00pm – (Monday Closed)
242 – 244 Upper Richmond Road
London SW15 6TG
Phone: 020 8780 1767
Visit Ma Goa here
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018