The chai is piping hot, the local bhajis are healthy and great place on a budget.
More than your daily fix, chai, is a feeling of home. The moment you take a sip, your senses immediately melt into a calmness and sets you off in a happy mood. But, there’s more to your chai than the ingredients in the cup, sometimes the place adds that secret sauce to the perfect chai experience.
For decades, Anita Tea House in Fontainhas has been a fond memory to the faithful patrons who have called this little space their second home. Like me, countless others have shared a chai over exciting conversations, laughed at tit-bits, anecdotes shared, met old and new friends and been inspired by fresh ideas.
It’s not difficult to find it in Fontainhas. It’s bright orange exteriors stand out in contrast amongst the purple and blues of the surrounding structures. While the area has it’s share of modern AC cafes with their contemporary, sleek, bright interiors, Anita Tea House transports you back to the old world charm of eating at a local tea shop.
Walking in, you can’t miss greeting Didi. Her counter surrounded by posters and calendars of Hindu Gods, the tall, chatty sibling of the seven, has been tending to her customers for years. Her real name, Hema, may not be known to most, but her friendly approach makes her a sister, or Didi to everyone. She recognises a familiar regular as they walk in and you can always catch her for a quick conversation, even on busy days.
She tells you of her times spent as a child, where, “I would come in the morning with my father, change into my uniform and go to school from here,” she recalls vividly of those times when she was in the fifth standard.
Anita Tea House, if you’re wondering, gets it’s name from her fourth sister. Her late father started it as a grocery store during the Portuguese. But around liberation, the items were stolen leading to severe losses to the family. They subsequently moved to serving chai and snacks.
These days you can eat a hearty Goan bhajji, dry (sukhi) like a potato bhajji, patal (usal), and mixed with pao or paratha. Healthy and good for a budget meal, the menu changes every day. You can have a refreshing cup of chai for Rs 10, while the snacks are Rs 10 each and the bhaji-pao vary from Rs 40 on wards. Made in typical home cooked style, this authentic local snack is a perfect companion to your cup of chai. There are quick bites like samosas, bhajiyas and makan peda to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Anita isn’t merely a little, old tea house but a home to many, smile to the lonely and a place you can find yourself and inspiration.