Goan Cuisine is unique in its own way as no other cuisine can claim such contrasting influences. The cuisine is mainly originated from its Hindu origin and Konkan roots. Moreover, the impact of Portuguese colonialism for 400 years plays a major role in their food choices. Goan Cuisine highlights a mix of many cultures like Hindu, Christian, and Muslim. The food here is a delicious reflection of its History and Heritage. Goa being a state of tropical climate, the use of spices and flavors are also intense here.
Being located on the west coast of India at the shore of the Arabain Sea, Goan Cuisine is mainly dominated by seafood. Pomfret, Kingfish, Mackerel, Tuna, Crab are some of the most common seafood consumed in Goa.
Staple Food of Goans
Fish curry and Rice are their staple food, so any food served without fish is considered to be incomplete. However, the cuisine also includes other main ingredients like coconut, raw mango, and also other spices and herbs. Kokum and Vinegar are also their unique ingredients that lend a distinctive sourness to the dishes.
Influence of Portuguese
The Portuguese had a major influence on Goan Cuisine and also introduced many items in Goa. Cashews were introduced which are now famous Nuts in Goa and are widely available here. Also, potatoes, pineapple, guavas, tomatoes, and chili pepper were introduced and were majorly used in the cuisine.
Goan Cuisine is divided into Goan Hindu Cuisine and Goan Catholic Cuisine.
Goan Hindu Cusine
Goan Hindi Cuisine is mainly vegetarian and similar to Saraswat cuisine from where it originates. Though coastal flavors have had an unmistakable bearing on the food, vegetable dishes form the mainstay of the cuisine however, fish is also eaten widely. Ingredients like kokum, tamarind, and jaggery form the basis of their preparation. Also, curry leaves, onion, garlic, fenugreek coupled with other ingredients like pumpkin., cucumbers, lentils, roots form a part of their cuisine. Each dish boasts a unique and bold flavor.
Few of the dishes that are prominent in this cuisine are,
Sol kadhi, one of the most popular curries in goa made with Kokum and coconut. This is one of the most authentic dishes of Goa and one must not miss having this.
Beetroot Sukke, a dry sabzi prepared using beetroot chunks that are cooked along with spices. Tastes best with roti and rice.
Doddak, savory buttermilk pancakes that are cooked to perfection.
Varan, basically a humble and delicious lentil preparation tempered with mustard, cumin, and curry leaves. This is always served with steamed rice along with a dollop of ghee.
Coconut Rice, sweet rice prepared using fresh coconut with dry fruits like raisins, cashew nuts, and almonds.
Tendli and Kajubi Upkari, a dry sabzi prepares with cashew nuts and tendli, pairs well with rice and roti.
Stews, a thin healthy, and wholesome curry mainly made using lots of vegetables like sweet potato, bell peppers, zucchini, broccoli, along with lentils and spices.
Sorak, a simple vegetarian curry made especially during the monsoon season in Goa. Curry consists of spicy masala with onions and tomatoes. Sorak is best enjoyed with hot steaming rice.
Goan Catholic Cuisine
Goan Catholic cuisine is a fusion of Goan Hindu and Portuguese cooking methods. Meats are included like beef and pork, along with seafood. The use of Vinegar made from the toddy of the local coconut tree is mainly used in the preparation of the food to give a distinct and sour taste to all the meat dishes.
Goan Sweets / Desserts
When we talk about Goan Cuisine, we cannot miss the fact that Goan sweets are unique and oh so sinful. These sweet dishes are mainly prepared in Goan Homes during festivals and Christmas. Their key ingredients for preparing any sweet dishes are coconut, jaggery, coconut milk, and also red rice. So let us get into the details of these sweet dishes that are not just delicious but also flavorful.
Patolea, is mainly a sweet dish that is soft and aromatic. It is usually consumed along with tea. For preparing this dish, Goan red rice is used along with tamarind leaves, also known as Haldi ka patta. A filling of freshly grated coconut, Goan jaggery, and cardamom is made and stuffed inside the leaves. These are further folded or wrapped and steamed for 20 minutes and served.
Bebinca is mainly known as the queen of Goan desserts. It is basically a very slow process cake where the batter is made with flour, ghee, sugar, coconut milk, and egg yolk with the hint of nutmeg and almond slivers. The process involves baking one layer at a time and that may take a lot of time to bake. This is a traditional layer cake mainly made during Christmas in Goa.
Also popularly known as Neureos or Karanji, this dish is prepared mainly during festivals. These are basically sweet dumplings prepared using All-purpose flour (maida), stuffed with grated coconut, sugar, cardamom, poppy seeds, and almond powder. Nevris taste really delicious and is surely a delight for all the foodie souls.
Dodol is a sweet pudding made using coarsely ground raw paddy rice flour, coconut milk, black jaggery, and cashew nuts. The dark brown color of this sweet comes from Goan Jaggery and is cooked on firewood. This melt-in-mouth dessert is mainly prepared during Christmas.
Perad is also known as Guava cheese that is very soft and chewy. It is made from guavas and takes a long time to cook, however, it is very unique, delicious, and eaten as a dessert.
This particular sweet is made using fresh coconut and vanilla essence. The texture of Cocada is something between a cookie and a barfi and tastes very good when dipped in hot chocolate.
Apart from these, sweets made from Rice and Lentils like Kheer and Payasam are also traditionally prepared and eaten as sweet dishes during festivals.
The most popular Goan drink is Feni, an alcoholic beverage made from fermented cashew apple juice or coconut palm sap. This exotic drink Feni is considered the pride of Goans. This is because Feni is the only beverage in Asia that has won the GI, Geographical Indicatio status placing it in the same class as Scotch Whisky ( GI for whisky-producing in Scotland) or Tequila located in the state of Mexico.
Mainly the Portuguese brought the cashew crop to Goa in the 16th century and so along with it came the fine art of brewing feni, from “fen” meaning froth in the local language.
Well, one needs to acquire the taste of Feni just like how we all love cheese and wine. You can either mix Feni with Soda or a dash of lime or in a cocktail. In whichever way you like this drink, be sure to raise the toast to this Heritage liquor of Goa.
Sol Kadhi is also a famous drink in Goa that is consumed along with rice or drunk as it is. This is mainly popular in the coastal region of Goa. SolKadhi is made from kokum and coconut milk and it is well known for its cooling and cleansing properties.
Port Wine, also known as “Vinho do Porto”. This was the first wine introduced by the Portuguese and produced in India. It is a sweet wine usually served as a dessert.
Goa is a favorite beach paradise for all the tourists who come here in every season for its food, drinks, and beaches. However, Apart from the local Goan Cuisine, you will also find Thai, Italian, Asian, Mediterranean, Greek, and many more cuisines here. Since it is a favorite place among foreigners you also find a lot of Vegan food.