After her retirement from a government job, Smita Surendranath Blaggan started Lake View Restaurant in Siridao, Goa in a bid to pursue a long-cherished dream.

Born in Karnataka, the 62-year-old is a Maharashtrian who married into a Punjabi family. “With such a diverse family background, I have been exposed to so many cuisines and flavours,” she says.

A foodie herself, she has always been on the lookout for new cuisines to try and the food that she whipped up was the magnet.

Her house in Goa became the spot where everyone liked to assemble — whether it was her husband’s office colleagues or her children’s friends.

“I always enjoyed hosting people. Every time we hosted people at home, once they left, he [her husband] would tell me that food is my true calling. At that time, circumstances did not allow me to follow that dream,” says Smita.

Her son Rohit recalls the aroma of chicken biryani that would welcome him and his sister Karishma, after school on several occasions.

“All my friends were huge fans of ma’s cooking. Even after we left home for college, when we would return for holidays with friends, the food was a major attraction for everyone,” he says.

In 2020, when Rohit returned to India from Dubai, he helped Smita set up the Lake View restaurant with an initial investment of about Rs 25 lakh.

The restaurant has a seating capacity of 150 and is located right next to a lake. It is a rather favourable spot for families and groups of friends.

Her restaurant is famous for its authentic Goan cuisine and seafood. Some of the popular cuisines include prawn dangar, fish thali, rawa mussels, and butter chicken.

When asked to pick her favourite, Smita says, “How can I choose between my children? I love each dish that I prepare and every one of them is made with the same dedication.”

Smita ensures that all the spice mixes are made by her. “I only buy the best and freshest ingredients. That makes such a difference to the flavour of each dish,” she says.

Although starting a business post-retirement happens by chance for many, for Smita running a restaurant was always a true calling. Today, she feels accomplished watching her dream come alive.