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How Much Do You Know about Goan Cuisine

Goa, a popular holiday destination of India, is the beach paradise for travel thirsty souls. A major holiday spot for the group as well as solo travelers, the place is full of adventure and memorable events. Apart from this, the Goan cuisine is another crowd puller – undoubtedly due to its undeniable taste, texture, and aromas. The centuries-old history, colonial traditions, and cultural influences have made a huge impact on the gastronomy of the region – especially in its collection of flavors and culinary techniques.

Some of the primary ingredients of Goan cuisine include seafood, rice, local vegetables, coconut, pork, and spices. Due to its proximity to the Arabian Sea, fish is a predominant part of the meal. Also, the Goan home-style cooking is incomplete without Kokum. 

Most Goan delicacies have Hindu origins, however with time the colonial and Islamic influences have reshaped these delicacies into the existing form. It is divided into two parts - Catholic and Hindu, and most Catholic dishes are inspired by the Portuguese cuisines. 

Goan Cuisine – A Perfects Blend of Indian and European Traditions

The Goan gastronomic culture is mostly inspired by European and Asian cultures – Portuguese, Brazilian, Arab, French, Malaysian, African, Malabar, Konkan, and Chinese - that made their presence felt in the state. The major religious communities of Goa — Hindus, Christians, and Muslims – also shaped its cooking style and textures.

However, the major players in shaping Goa cuisine are the Portuguese. They brought in exotic ingredients like chilies, potatoes, cashew nuts, tomatoes, guava, pineapples and passion fruit, which enhanced the overall Indian gastronomical culture. The Portuguese also brought in bread, pork, vinegar beef, and several others. These ingredients transformed the cooking in the average household, leading to new foods, changed eating habits and lifestyle.      

With Goan food came to represent the perfect Indo-Portuguese culinary traditions, in some cases, the local Christian community of Goa, ‘Indianized’ the original Portuguese recipes by substituting original ingredients with a local counterpart. Like Goans modified the recipes by swapping wine with palm vinegar.

Different Types of Goan Cuisine

The Goan recipes are broadly divided into two categories – Hindu and Catholic. The Hindu recipes of Goa are mainly pescatarian (includes fish but avoids meat and eggs) and vegetarian diet. These recipes are less spicy and used kokum or tamarind as a souring agent. Jaggery is used as a sweetener. Since, the curry leaves, garlics, onions, asafoetida, mustard, and fenugreek, are used liberally, the Hindu Goa cuisine is mostly strong in flavor. Apart from that, local ingredients like lentils, gourds, pumpkins, and bamboo shoots are also used in cooking. Mostly coconut oil is used for cooking, however, many have switched to healthier alternatives.

In the Catholic, a recipe is heavily inspired by the Portuguese cooking and incorporates ingredients like vinegar into their dishes. Apart from Portugal, these cuisines draw their influence from Konkani, Saraswat, South Indian, and English cookery.

Although the Hindu and Catholic delicacies of Goa are distinct from each other, there are some subtle similarities between them. They have all the four important components – sourness, spice, sweetness, and salt – of Goa cuisine. Additionally, both the cooking genres use sweeteners and souring agents to enhance the flavors.  

Some Common Ingredients of Goa Cuisine

In most Goan dishes, rice, fish and coconut milk, are used along with aromatic spices. Apart from that, tamarind, kokum, cashews, and red chilies are also used. Fish is very important, and no meal in Goa is completed without it. Dishes incorporating fresh seafood like crabs, pomfret, prawns, mussels, oysters, lobsters, ladyfish, and clams are always present in the dinner tables. While fish is a staple for Hindu households, meats like beef, pork, and chicken mainly cooked in Christian homes.

Cooking is important for Goans, and they still are attached to their traditional cooking techniques. Although most households have modern cooking equipment, they still tend to prefer cooking in earthen pots over a wood fire. Due to the traditional cooking techniques, the home-style dishes have a unique taste and flavor. 

Popular Goan Specialties

Overall, the Goa cuisines are very delicious. The rice and fish curry – a Goan staple – is a cult favorite. The fishes like Kingfish, pomfret, mackerel, shark, and tuna are mainly used for such recipes.

Some popular Goan dishes:

• Fish Recheado

• Fish Calderon

• Croquettes

• Fish Caldeirada

• Ambot tik

• Pork Assad

• Humann

• Prawn Balchao

• Caldo Verda

• Puran Poli

• Bebinca

• Sorpotel

Goan cuisine is an interesting blend of Indian and Portuguese influences. The result of this beautiful mix is an aromatic and textured specialty that will leave a mark on your taste buds.

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