Today I choose to write about Goan Cuisine, because of my long association with Goan culture since 2003. When I was posted at Vasco da Gama Goa as bank manger and travelled interiors of Goa meeting people & making friends. Close observation of Goan village life thrilled me with their “Mehaman Nawazi”(act of receiving host or cherishing, hospitable reception) which has given me insight about their Cuisine culture and traditions. I was call several times by my Goan customers/Friends on their festivals and marriages which clearly depicted warmth of Goan culture and I decided to write about them and share it with you……
Diffusion: A Short History
Goa is well-known throughout the world for its sun-kissed beaches, its hospitality and susegado lifestyle. Goa was invaded by the Portuguese and was under their dominium for 450 years and earned his freedom in 1961, India made many requisitions to the Salazar regime of Portugal to grant their Indian colonies independence, but when that failed, on 18 December 1961, Indian troops crossed the border into Goa and “liberated” it. Operation Vijay involved sustained land, sea and air strikes for more than thirty-six hours; it resulted in the unconditional surrender of Portuguese forces on 19 December, Where it was annexed back to India. Thus Portuguese influence is clear in its food – from cured sausages, Chouricos, dried meats, cashew hooch, feni, Coconut, hot red chilies, spices and Toddy vinegar is at the heart of the flavours. But the Goans took these Portuguese influences and molded a cuisine entirely their own and end result of same is delicacies like Pork Vandaloo and Sorpotel, Chicken Xacuti and Cafreal, Prawan Balchao, Caldeirada and Racheido, Rssois De Camarao, Sopa Grossa and many more.
Every Goan dish has four important elements: sweetness, sourness, spice and salt.
Despite the two schools of cuisine traditions influenced by the respective religions of Hinduism and Christianity; there are some meeting points that present an interesting harmony. This blend of various cooking styles and influences is what makes Goan food so unique among the cuisines of India. Goan cuisine is able to satisfy even the most finicky gourmet appetites. A Goan values his food as much as he does his daily siesta (break). And in his daily meal, seafood always has a pride of place is some form or the other. Goans prepare different foods for different occasions – daily consumption, festive (religious and non-religious) occasions, food for the gods, rituals, ancestors, and according to the season. Food for daily consumption consists of rice, curry, fish/vegetables and pickles depending on the economic status. Goans are basically non-vegetarian. Fish is an important item of their diet. Goans take pleasure not only in what they eat, but also how they cook it.
Take a siesta : If you are tourist and new to Goa and late for your Lunch, I am sorry you will not get your Lunch after 2 pm in Goan restaurants, Goans still follow the Portuguese practice of afternoon siestas, and many businesses close between lunch and tea-time (about 1 pm to 4 pm) every day. Goa’s relaxed, contented way of life is expressed as “susegad,” from the Portuguese word “sossegado,” meaning quiet.
Goa’s beaches, nightlife and adventure are the major crowd-pullers, but one more thing that attracts swarms of tourists to Goa every year is Goan cuisine. Goa has tropical climate, which means that spices and flavours are intense. Use of kokum is another distinct feature and at its heart is those hot, spicy and tangy flavours we have come to associate with this cuisine. Goan cuisine is mostly seafood-based and considered incomplete without fish. The staple foods are rice and fish. Kingfish (vison or visvan) is the most common delicacy. Other seafood delicacies include pomfret, shark, tuna, and mackerel. Among the shellfish are crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid, and mussels.
Sol Kadi is a refreshing Konkani drink usually eaten with rice or sometimes served as a drink after meals in Goa. Also known as Aamsol, Sol Kadi is made from coconut milk and kokum. This drink cools down the digestive system after eating spicy food and is a real saver during hot Indian summers.
Chilies play an important role in Goan cuisine which was a stranger to this continent until the Portuguese introduced them from the Americas. Chilies, particularly the dried red variety, are used widely to add pungency, flavour and texture, marinate meats and fish. Button chili also known as ‘bootaon’ in the local dialect. They are small, red, rounded at the end and very spicy with a thick skin. These chilies are used in grinding masalas for curries in both cuisines Hindu and Christian. Extensively used in Bardez taluka in Christian Goan homes and in Hindu Goan curries especially the Sattari, Bicholim talukas of North Goa. Also for the preparation of Assads in Christian Goan homes.
Pão is Portuguese word for bread, and the Goan bread maker is known locally as Poder. Bakers regularly do the rounds of each village in Goa, pushing bicycles laden with fresh bread and either rings a bell or hooting a horn on the handlebars to let the villagers know they’ve arrived. You’ll see that Goans often swap their regular bowl of steamed rice with soft and warm bread. Traditionally toddy fenni was used to ferment the bread dough. The art of bread making is a legacy which is granted by the Portuguese to Goa.
Goan households still make use of traditional cooking methods, like cooking in a clay pot on a wood fire, using a varn (grinding stone) to grind spices, a dantem (hand-mill) for grinding cereals, and brass utensils for cooking desserts, Doules (Coconut spoons), Moltulem for serving the prepared dishes also helps to retain the flavour and aroma of the food. Vantleo and confro: Vantleo means the uniform moulds made out of Stainless steel. Confro is an air – tight steaming chamber. Traditional cooking methods provide unique tastes and aromas. Regardless of the cooking method used, the freshness of spices is fundamental, and is achieved by pounding the spices with muscle power and patience.
17 Slobbering Mirthful Mood Goan Non-Vegetarian Dishes
- Goan Fish Curry rice: Humann is fish curry most Common Goan Food, Fish Curry rice is known as xittcoddi in Konkani
- Goan Prawn Curry: Prawns cooked in a spicy and sour coconut based gravy. Goan Prawn curry is quite popular in Goa. It goes very well with steamed white rice.
- Fish Recheado: Prepared by slicing a cross section of the fish. It is stuffed with red hot chili masala called reacheado that is made from red chilies, spices, ginger, garlic and ground with malt vinegar. The fish is them pan fried.
- Prok Vandaloo: Derived from the Portuguese words for garlic (alho) and wine (vinho), combined in a marinade, this spicy Goan curry originated from a Portuguese sailor’s dish made with – yes, that’s right – pork, garlic and wine.
- Rava Fish Fried: The coat is prepared from rava and garlic, red chilies, turmeric, and salt are added to it for flavoured. The fillets are covered in the paste and fried to get the scrumptious Goan starters.
- Chicken Xacuti: “Shakuti” which is also known as Chicken Xacuti is made from Goan spices and its one of the most famous Goan chicken foods and it’s available mostly in all restaurants in Goa.
- Chicken Cafreal : A Goan dish of tribal origin is cafreal. It was named after the African soldiers or Kaffirs who brought it to Goa centuries ago.
- Pork Sorpotel: A Rich Stew Made from Pork
- Ros Omelette: It is a simple Goan snack made from Omelettes, chicken and mutton gravy drizzles. The stuffing will be a true treat for your soul. it’s common to eat ros omelette with goan pao (Bread).
- Mussel Rava Fry: All-time favorite snacks of the people of Goa. Deep fried in rawa batter, it serves several functions, from the crunchy appetizer to the side snacks served with alcohol.
- Prawn Balchao: This is a spice-infused prawn pickle comprised of a fiery tomato and chili sauce, made with caramelised onions and coconut toddy vinegar.
- Shark Ambot Tik: ‘Ambot’ means sour and ‘tik’ means spicy. This sour and spicy curry is very common in almost every Goan restaurant. It is made from shark fish and traditional Indian spices with a dash of sourness.
- Caldeirada: Another dish which has its roots in the Portuguese cuisine. Essentially, it’s a fish stew which consists of several varieties of fish in it. This dish is, usually, made with white wine and with a combination of potatoes and chopped salsa. The spices used are mostly paprika, salt and garlic.
- Feijoada: This dish is a stew of red beans and pork. Goan feijoada is a Portuguese influenced recipe. Salted pork, masala and red beans are combined and fried to prepare this dish. Coconut milk may be added instead of water for the gravy as coconut milk will add a unique flavour and give a thicker consistency. Goan feijoada is served with rice or pois.
- Samarachi Kodi: Dish prepared during the monsoons. It is a dry prawn curry. Dry prawns, onion, coconut, tamarind and tomatoes are the main ingredients which a friend with a spicy, tangy masala. Coconut milk is added to give it the typical flavour and texture.
- Kismur: A type of side dish normally consisting of dried fish (mostly mackerel or shrimp), onions, and coconut
- Chouricos: Spicy pork sausages, which owe more than a passing debt to Portuguese culinary traditions. Made from pork meat and fat and loosely diced. The twines of sausages are immersed in pickling spices and then sun dried. Sausages are served with Pulao rice or in bread.
10 Drooling Conventional Goan Vegetarian Dishes
- Vatanyachi Paatal Bhaji/ Peas Curry: A Favorite Breakfast Food of Goa with puris or Pao(Bread)
- Khatkhatem: A specialty among the Goan Hindu Community served at weddings, pujas, festivals and other occasions. A curry dish prepared from seasonal vegetables, yellow pigeon pea, and triphala (fruit), along with coconut gravy.
- Mulyachi Bhaji/Radish Vegetable: Mulyachi bhaji is a dry sabzi(vegetable) prepared using mooli(Radish), popular in Maharashtra and Goa served for lunch or dinner
- Sannas: White, fluffy bread prepared of coconut and excellently ground rice flour is mixed with toddy. Later it is inflamed and steamed. Eating with most curries, especially sorpotel or simply a cup of Indian tea would be amazing taste.
- Vadyancho Ross / Ash Gourd Chips Curry: Vadyancho ross is a simple gravy made without onions and garlic. Vadi or Ash gourd chips are fried added to the coconut gravy and simmered well to get this flavourful curry.
- Karatyachyo Fodi/ Pan Fried Bitter Gourd: Pan Fried Bitter Gourd is one of the easy and healthy sides for any vegetarian meal, especially Indian vegetarian Thali.
- Chanya Ros/ Yello Dry Peas Curry: Chanya ross is a very healthy choice among vegetarian recipes. This is one of the authentic goan recipes which go well with rice.
- Goan Sangacho Ross / Drum Stick Curry: Sangacho ross or drumstick curry is a Goan Vegetarian curry served with rice.
- Val Papdi Bhaji: Flat Beans are known as Val Papdi in the Maharashtra- Goa region, The Val papdi is first cooked in simple tadka of curry leaves and mustard, later finished with a coconut, garlic, tamarind mixture which adds a wonderful flavour to the dish.
- The Goan-style Cabbage Foogath Bhaji – A favorite and a staple vegetable of every Goan is the Cabbage Foogath or also known as fugad de repolho. Simply steamed cabbage with minimal spices, usually paired in Goa with the fish curry-rice staple is also perfect as a side dish
10 Dribbling Goan Sweet Dishes
- Bebinca: A multilayered coconut cake truly unique to Goa. Few ingredients coconut milk, eggs, butter and jaggery, the dish is tedious to make. Legend says sweet was invented by Bibiona, a nun at the Convent of Santa Monica in Old Goa.
- Bolo De Rulao: Coconut and semolina (sooji) cake which is also called Bolo De Batica. ‘Bolo’ is a Portugese word that translates to cake.
- Perad: A well-loved delicacy in Goa, Perad is nothing but traditionally made guava cheese. A gorgeous reddish brown in colour, this delectably soft sweet has a heady aroma and is totally yum.
- Channa Doce: Goan sweet that requires quite a few ingredients that include Bengal gram dal or channa dal, scraped coconut, sugar and cardamom. However, it requires a lot of patience and tremendous amount of stirring.
- Kidiyo or Kulkul: A popular golden brown sweet made of plain flour, flavoured with coconut cream, and cardamom. Mostly prepared during Christmas, its worm-like appearance has earned it the name “kidiyo” in Konkani.
- Goan Nevri: Also known as Karanji, Nevri is a popular dish prepared in Goa, especially during Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi. These are sweet dumplings made of maida and further stuffed with coconut, sugar, poppy seeds, cardamom and almonds.
- Alle Belle: A Lip-Smacking Goan Appetizer. One of the best Goan sweet dishes made of flour, eggs, cashew nuts and loads of butter, garnished with chocolate sauce and grated coconut.
- Dodol: A sticky, sweet and thick pudding made from coconut, jaggery and rice flour, Dodol is another popular Christmas dessert in Goa. With preparation time running into days, this is one sweet dish that is totally worth the effort.It is usually cooled in a flat pan and served in slices, and is very sweet.
- Patolea: Pronounced as pathayo, Patolea is a sweet dish that may also be consumed along with tea. For the dish, Goan red rice is used with tamarind leaves (Haldi ka patta).A filling of coconut, Goan jaggery, and cardamom is made and stuffed inside the leaves (that have been lined with rice paste) and the leaves are then folded or wrapped and steamed for 20 minutes.
- Bolinha: Easy to do, the procedure is not time consuming but would be better if you can leave part mixture overnight. The end result is a soft, tasty Bolinha that crumbles in your mouth and as always leaving you with the desire to have one more
River of Cool Alcohol – Goa
A calm night, the beach, cool breeze and some Goan music, make it a magical land. But that’s not all, Goa is fine like wine, and it has something for everyone. Religion also influenced the introduction of wine since it enjoyed religious sanction due to its association with Christianity. Considered the blood of Christ, it played an important role in the liturgy. Furthermore, it was believed that wine, if drunk moderately, gave strength to the body. The consumption of wine was not approved by religion and customs of the Hindus and Muslims. Christian views on alcohol are varied. Christians generally consumed alcoholic beverages as a common part of everyday life and used “the fruit of the vine” in their central rite—the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper. Christian tradition taught that alcohol is a gift from God that makes life more joyous, but that over-indulgence leading to drunkenness is sinful or at least a vice. Transubstantiation is according to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the change of substance or essence by which the bread and wine offered in the sacrifice of the sacrament of the Eucharist during the Mass, become, in reality, the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Whether you’re in search of a refreshing drink to stave off dehydration or you’re heading out to party, Goa has a wonderful variety of drinks to tempt you.
7 Idiosyncratic Local Drinks of Goan Culture
The Portuguese colonists brought with them a love of wine and they set about growing grapes despite the unpromising climate. They specialized in port-like fortified wines and such production still continues in Goa. Lower taxes and an alcohol-friendly environment have created the perfect space for Goans to produce their own specialties and experiment in other areas like with wines, beer and Tequila.
- Feni: Favorite local drink in Goa and has been a part of Goan food tradition for over 400 years. Feni is made either from cashew or coconut palm sap, which is then fermented and distilled. This local spirit has an intense smell and a strong aftertaste but is worth a try during your Goa Trip. Cazulo Feni Perhaps the only premium brand of feni in the state, Cazulo stands out on the shelves thanks to its tasteful packaging. This one’s a product of years of research by Vaz Enterprises, a family-run business that’s reviving the traditional pot-still distillation method of preparing feni. The result is a crisp drink, which belies the popular belief that feni is a noxious, unsophisticated tipple. Cazulo Feni has none of the horrific side effects of mass-produced, industrial stuff. It is available in two versions–cashew and coconut
- King’s Beer: King’s Black Label Premium pilsner is well worth trying in Goa. Brewed from maize, this is a very light tasting, pale colored beer that is known for its smoky malt aroma with an alcohol content of 4.85%. A clean & crisp drink, this beer has achieved legendary status as it is brewed and sold only in Goa.
- Urrak: One of Goa’s tastiest drinks made from distilled and fermented extracts of cashew fruit. This seasonal drink looks similar to coconut milk and is available only in summer. Urrak is made of the first distillation of the cashew fruits and has a characteristic sweet, fruity taste while Feni is made with the second or third distillation of the cashew fruit and is available throughout the year. Goans have been drinking Urrak since the late 1700s.
- Port Wine: Also known as Vinho do Porto, was first brought to Goa by the Portuguese in the 16th century AD. This is typically the sweet, red wine, and is often served as a dessert wine. Goan Port Wine is strictly speaking not a Port at all as it does not follow the strict regulations set out for the original Vinho do Porto. Goan port-style wines were the first wines produced in modern India. Vinicola is the first unit which was set up just outside Margao town in 1965 by Ivo da Costa. Enjoy Goan Port Wine during a romantic dinner with your loved one at the beach will make the moment even more special.
- DesmondJi Tequila: Producing a range of sprits, liqueurs and cocktail blends, the DesmondJi line of drinks made in Goa. The ridiculously strong, DesmondJi 100% Agave is a smooth drink that should be sipped and savored. Both of these spirits are of course made from the Agave plant, as is Tequila.
- Licor Armada: Often referred as the legendary liqueur of the Portuguese Empire, Armada is a dark amber spirit and really has a unique taste all of its own. Armada is prepared by using Brazilian sugar, Indian spices and Portuguese fruit. The liqueur has extremely long legs and it seems to stay forever on the palate. It opens with top notes of cardamom, cinnamon and orange, and you slowly get hints of turmeric, cloves and other spices. Made without artificial colors and flavours, it has around 30% alcohol content and is supposed to make unique cocktails. It goes really well in many sweets from profiteroles to ice-cream, chocolate brownies to Christmas cake.
- Wine: Goa is definitely the perfect place for wine lovers. Although Goa doesn’t have any large scale commercial wineries as such, most Goan homes make their own wine. From port wine to tomato wine and apple wine, Goa has it all. Some brands worth sipping are Sula, Big Banyan, Vinicola, etc. If you visit Goa during the summer, don’t miss the Great Goan Grape Escapade that happens in Panjim. It is an annual extravaganza where you can sip on wines from across the world while indulging in delicious Goan cuisine and great music.
I am sure after reading you must have made mind to visit this vivid place and enhance your taste buds, please share your openion and experiences.