Just like the people who stay closest to school are always late for classes, the holiday destinations that are closest to home are always the most overlooked. There is that attitude of ‘Oh, we can always explore it later’ which is what happened with me and Alibaug. It has been on my wishlist for ages, simply for the reason that the ease of getting to Alibaug, reminds me of Waiheke Island in New Zealand which is also just an hour’s ferry ride away. And of course, the seafood treats that any destination on the coast has to offer.
We finally made our way to Alibaug last month for a weekend getaway and gorged on some amazing local treats. It’s surprising how under developed Alibaug is in comparison to Mumbai given its proximity and most of the inner roads reminded me of Udvada with life seemingly operating a couple of decades behind. I do hope it stays this way and that the numerous building projects coming up don’t turn it into a skyscraper jungle!
While I normally take great pains to eat as many different meals as I can to take in the food a place has to offer, this time I surprised myself. Sure, we went to different places to eat and checked out Sanman, Konkan Katta as well as Prasanna – all 3 are highly recommended outside of the regular resort food – but everywhere we went, we ended up eating the same five treats. Fresh seafood has a way of doing that to you, trust me!
And, if you’re heading to Alibaug soon then I recommend you take a page out of my book and atleast have all the below delicious treats atleast once if not multiple times!
A popular coastal pickle, all seafood thalis in Alibaug will begin with Sukat. Made of a local variety of shrimp that is even smaller than the normal shrimp, karandi or jawala, Sukat is primarily a Konkan dish. It has the strong aroma that usually comes with dried fish and the crunch from the tiny shells that are impossible to remove. Eating Sukat by itself is probably not for the faint hearted as it has a strong fishy taste but pair it with your curry-rice and it takes your curry to a new level of yumminess.
Having grown up on a regular diet of raspberry and ice-cream soda, I am a sucker for trying unusual drinks instead of the usual Coke. And, while we were served the traditional Sol Kadi with our thali, I preferred the chilled Kokum Soda from this local company called Akash Soda’s. Sweet, sour and masaledar all at the same time, this fizzy drink appealed to my Parsi palate. BawaGroom on the other hand who loves his sugary sodas found it a bit too weird but you gotta have it if only for the novelty factor. And, if Kokum Soda is really not your thing then there’s always aapro Rogers’ Ice-cream Soda
I never thought that I’d refuse a plate of pomfret anything in my life. But, after having Alibaug’s deliciously fresh pomfrets for five (yes, you read it correct 5!) meals in a row that’s exactly what happened. Us city-folk are so used to our fish taking days to arrive from trawler to plate that we’ve forgotten what freshly caught fish tastes like. While there is a range of pomfret preparations available, the best way to enjoy this king of coastal treats is with a simple marination and frying it. As the crispy skin gave way to flaky soft fish and I scooped it up with my bhakri I realised that were I to move to Alibaug, I would probably want some Pomfret Fry for the rest of my days.
When you’re holidaying by the coast, it is unacceptable to have only one kind of fish which is why we also indulged in copious amounts of Prawns Sukha. Another delicious Konkani invention, the taste of your Sukha will change from one location to the other as each establishment has their own secret spice blend. We had ours at Sanman and our serving came with atleast 20 – 30 plump prawns – I’ve never before seen such a generous seafood helping at another restaurant!
Every destination has a dessert they are proud of and for Alibaug its their tender coconut jelly. We saw advertisement’s for it at every local store and I decided I must have it. Made with tender coconut water, the jelly has bits of coconut malai suspended in it and can become a refreshing end to your daily seafood sojourn. The best part is that it’s not too sweet at all which means you can justify having it for breakfast, lunch and dinner – which is exactly what I did.
Overall, Alibaug is a great destination for all seafood lovers. And, its proximity to Mumbai means that the next time I am craving an overdose of pomfret I may just skip Fort’s seafood establishments and simply catch a ferry to Alibaug. Have you had any other amazing treats during your visit to Alibaug? Do share in the comments below.