A hint of vinegar, sugar, spice and everything nice, is all that goes into making the most vibrant and tropical cuisine of the Western coasts of India, Goa. What makes the exquisite brocade of food in Goa even more special and tongue wrenching is the fact that it is a culmination of cultures that have blended together so perfectly over the days of yore. Goan food is a result of an unimaginable combination of Portuguese culture, Goan Hindu culture as well as a mixture of tastes from the surrounding states of Maharashtra and Karnataka.
Apart from the beaches, music, parties and alcohol that make Goa a hot spot on the tourist charts, Goan food also plays its role in attracting people from all over the country as well as overseas to this beautiful tropical destination. Mouthwatering dishes ranging from sweet to savory adorn the menus at restaurants, food carts, pubs, cafes and even home run bakeries. And the best part about the food in Goa is the love and affection that goes into the preparation of each and every dish that has a secret recipe which has probably been passed on from generations. If you’ve ever visited Goa, you would know that the specialties change as per the seasons and festivals, while some of the traditional dishes are available only in certain native villages that need to be scrambled for. Seafood and bread also locally known as the ‘Pao’, is the staple in Goa while meat and vegetable preparations as well as certain scrumptious desserts are to die for.
Goa is an experience quite unlike any other, and so is it’s food. If you have never visited Goa before and are planning to do so in the near future, here is a list of the top 10 foods that you definitely need to try. And if you have already visited Goa, this article will only get your taste buds tingling as it takes you down memory lane. Hope you all aren’t haunted by the aroma of these delicious dishes for too long and get the opportunity to experience this beautiful taste for yourselves.
1. Mussels Rawa Fried (Xinanio)
For all you seafood lovers, this dish is a must try along with all the other fish preparations as well, because in Goa we never go wrong with our fish. If you’re in Goa during the season, never miss out on this beautiful mouth watering preparation of mussels. Mussels can be prepared in many different ways, but the crunchy, savoury rawa fried mussels are the best form to consume them in. A hint of recheado ( a traditional Goan masala preparation) masala when added to the mussels gives them an even more delicious flavour. The best location to try this dish would be at the local shacks that are seen along the coast or at smaller pubs or bars. This dish is best enjoyed with a pint of beer or with a glass of Goan feni, but can definitely be enjoyed without the alcohol as well.
2. Chicken cafreal with poie (bread)
Goan Chicken Cafreal is a vibrant green curry made with coriander, cumin, cardamom, chillies and cinnamon. Chicken Cafreal is always made from whole chicken legs, flavoured with the spices and herbs mentioned and then shallow fried. The preparation originated from the Portuguese colonies in the African continent. It was introduced into the Goan cuisine by the Portuguese and the African soldiers serving under the Portuguese. Chicken Cafreal is usually accompanied by potato and lime wedges and is best enjoyed with the goan flat bread known as a poie. It is a popular dish in the bars and taverns of the state where it is served in its most authentic form and flavour. Do not forget to try out this flavour pack chicken gravy on your trip to Goa.
3. Pork vindaloo
Pork is loved by all Goan Catholic households. A festive occasion is never complete without pork. Certain Catholic traditions involve the slaughter of pigs just before a big feast where the cooked meat of the pig will be served in the most deliciously cooked forms. The traditional Goan pork vindaloo is flavored with chilies, garlic and vinegar. It's spicy and tangy at the same time and leaves your taste buds tingling for more. It is usually best enjoyed with brown/white rice or crusty Goan bread. Another pork dish that is also a must try in Goa is the Goan pork gravy called ‘sorpotel’.
4. The Goan fish thali
Goan is well known for its seafood all over the country. Hence, a must try for all you fish lovers visiting Goa is the Goan fish thali. The fish thali offers everything under one roof in the form of a platter. The components of a thali may vary from place to place and restaurant to restaurant, but one that remains consistent is the fish component of the thali. The usual components of a fish thali would include:
Boiled rice – That is local brown rice or white rice that goes best with the flavorful fish or prawn curry.
Kismur – A salad of freshly grated coconut with tawa fried dried prawns mixed with turmeric, chili powder, coconut oil and golden brown onions.
Curry- Goan curry is prepared with a coconut milk mix base and when served hot with steaming rice it provides a tangy taste.
Tisreos‘ a.k.a clams – It is a dry dish cooked with desiccated coconut.
Fried fish: The fried fish is the heart and soul of every fish thali. It is usually presented as a piece of rava fried kingfish or chonak fillet that comes along with all the other accompaniments.
Pickle: No authentic Goan meal is complete without pickle.
Sol Kaddi – We save the best for last. This special coconut milk and kokum juice concoction has a sour-sweet, tangy and a little pungent taste which also works as a digestive.
5. Crab Xec Xec
Crab Xec Xec is a very aromatic and scrumptious Goan crab curry. Roasted spices and the coconut paste are the highlight of this dish. The resultant dish is a finger licking good curry with sweet and delicious crabs and is best eaten with rice or Goan bread.
6. Goan veg sorak curry
For all vegetarians visiting Goa, apart from the desserts a must try would be this scrumptiously delicious sorak curry. This is a traditional Goan recipe made with kokum, red chilies, coconut and an amalgamation of spices. The sorak curry is best served with piping hot rice or pliable chapattis. It should be available at all local joints that are well-versed with traditional Goan cooking.
7. Chourico pao (Goan sausage bread)
Goan Sausages are a delicacy and if you are a meat lover, you just cannot leave without tasting them. These sausages are cooked and eaten with rice or stuffed in Goan pao (breads), or cooked as a chilly fry or used in making sausage pulao. Chouricos are prepared using an age old recipe passed down to us by the Portuguese and are further cured until they reach palatable excellence.
The most loved and adored dessert all over Goan and among Goans who have migrated far and wide. Definitely a must try if you are visiting the state of Goa as it will leave your tingling taste buds wanting more. Ideally prepared during the festival of Christmas bebinca Bebinca or bibik is a pudding like Goan dessert which is made of multiple layers one on top of the other. Traditionally a typical bebinca would have about seven to sixteen layers but you can have as many as you wish. It requires time and patience to cook this delicious dessert, but the end results are worth all of it. Since bebinca is one of the most dearly loved desserts in Goa, it is available all year round at various bakery’s all throughout the state.
9. Alle belle (Goan pancakes)
Alle Belle is a popular Goan dessert. This is a coconut and Goan palm jaggery stuffed pancake which is best enjoyed in the evenings with a cup of hot tea. This dessert is usually prepared during certain festivals and isn’t available all year round. However, you might find it in certain households as a staple if it is loved dearly.
10. Goan sanna
Sannas are a Goan version of idlis. They are sweet spongy steamed rice cakes unlike savory idlis. Ground red rice and freshly grated coconut are combined together using toddy (fermented coconut sap). The batter is then fermented and steamed. These fluffy round structures are a popular accompaniment for chicken curry, and other meat curries.