Living up to the Portuguese taste
Published on: February 4, 2013 – 09:25
By Michael Fisher | B&C
Ms Jacqueline Coutinho of Borda is a self-made success story who learned the secrets of her grandmother’s recipes from an early age of 9.
She is now a major supplier of authentic Portuguese dishes to five-star hotels, top class caterers, and has a catering order nearly everyday.
She had no idea at that time that the love for Portuguese cooking instilled by her mother and mother-in-law would lead to a life-long career.
“To begin with, my mother and father are great cooks of my grandmother’s recipes and Portuguese cuisine,” says the self-made chef. “But I owe my trade to my mother-in-law Maria do Ceu Coutinho, who is the best when it comes to Portuguese cuisine. So the reason for where I am today begins with her. Many a times, the late Mario Miranda would ask my ma-in-law to write a book, but never got down to it, because she could not explain the recipes and masalas which she would prepare.”
All the same Ms Coutinho was brought up surrounded by plenty of food from making masalas, jams and syrups. Cooking trials were an everyday affair at her home. At an early age of 11, she baked her first cake for her three-year-old brother’s birthday. “It was a topsy-turvy pink cake and the friends who came criticised the cake saying the circle is crooked, but I argued by saying it is the tastiest cake,” she mentions.
Not having to wonder how she was going to earn her living after the B.Ed course, instead of applying for a teacher’s job, she took up a job in a co-operative bank. But her attention was more towards cooking. “I began feeling depressed in this monotonous bank,” she adds.
With no professional certificate, being married to famous musician Ravi and with two grown up children, Ms Coutinho packed up her bank job in 1996 and started cooking her own home-made products, which are also sold at her retail shop Jacqueline Sweet Secrets in Borda.
She makes traditional Portuguese delicacies not heard of anymore at regular tables. Her very selective clientele are from Mapusa, Panaji, Vasco and Dubai. They include five-star hotels, well-known caterers and corporates. Some of her dishes are rissois de camarao, apa de camarao, empardinhas (meat pie), pasties de banana, pasties de santa clara, bolo sous rival, angel wings, coconut tarts and bebinca.
“I have five women helpers, and we work from 9 to 5 everyday. During the festive seasons, we cook and bake until the wee hours to create mouthwatering dishes,” she explains. Her rissois are the talk of the five- star guests. The ready to fry rissois are made with prawns, spinach, and mushrooms.
“Cooking for me is an art which I am passionate about. I am open to discussion and criticism, which helps in the long run. Actually, the secret of cooking is trying out a recipe as many times till it is perfected. My dream is to expand to all the cities of Goa and start frozen products such as curry, pork vindalo, salted tongue, sorportal and xacuti,” she says, while also habouring a dream of starting a dedicated Portuguese restaurant.