Finding pleasure in the simpler things in life, Goa is an interesting mix of quaint, laidback lifestyle and the posh party atmosphere that it is famous for. Once you move past this cultural mash-up, the true nature of Goan cuisine is revealed. And while it is influenced heavily by the Portuguese, it has assumed its own identity.
Before the arrival of the Portuguese, Goan food was restricted to the flavors introduced by the ancient and medieval rulers. However, once the Portuguese entered into the fray, the Goan gastronomy transformed into something utterly exotic. New ingredients like potatoes and tomatoes, beef and pork were introduced to the cuisine.
The Bread of Goa
Goans swear by their pao. In today’s scenario, it is customary in Goa to have food with pao. This deliciously soft form of bread is not like the ones you get in supermarkets, wrapped in plastic. These come from wood-fired mud ovens, with the aroma of freshly baked bread. In a country where the majority feasts on rotis with boiled vegetables, Goans often prefer to have their meals with pao. This is perhaps the reason why they are often known as the ‘Pao-wallahs’ or ‘the ones with bread’.
The Succulent Seafood
Chicken XacutiOne of the best aspects of Goan cuisine is the delicious seafood. One can have either the Ambot Tik, a form of fish curry made of kokum fruit and mango or the fish recheado, a fish with a highly spiced up red paste. If you’re feeling particularly fancy, you can have the prawn balchao, a Portuguese dish where the prawn is cooked in a fiery red sauce.
The Spicy Pork
Aside from the seafood, the other non-vegetarian food items are not to be missed. There are some renowned pork dishes that one must have – the pork vindaloo, the pork balchao and the sorpotel. These spicy dishes with hot red gravy and are best eaten with steamed rice.
The Salty Sausages
Yet another culinary gift from the Portuguese, the Goan sausages are a must try. Made of spiced pork cubes and sprinkled with salt, this delicacy is prized all over the world. Did you know sausages were called bangers during the Second World War because they exploded when fried?
The Zesty Chicken
Chicken is quite prominent in Goan cuisine. Mesmerize your taste buds with the exotic Chicken Cafreal, named after the old African soldiers who were brought to Goa as slaves. Also, there is the Chicken Xacuti, prepared with the infusion of many spices like nutmeg, coriander, and tamarind – a dish that spice-lovers wouldn’t leave behind.
The Sugary Bebinca
One of the sweetest dishes in the otherwise spicy Goan cuisine is Bebinca. It is a popular sixteen-layered pudding made of flour, butter, sugar and coconut milk. It’s rich, soft, and sinfully pleasurable.
The Fruity Feni
It would be a sacrilege to leave out alcohol from this assortment. They say when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Similarly, when in Goa, drink what the Goans drink. One can have two types of Feni – the cashew feni or the coconut feni.
Did You Know: Goa, India’s smallest state, is home to over 7000 licensed bars!
Goan cuisine today is a delightful mix of Portuguese and Konkani cuisines. This combination makes it unique, not only in India but also all over the world.