Goan food is unusual and loaded with flavour. We make a few recommendations and eating options for your next Goa trip.
Goa is known for its beaches, its great climate and its laidback vibe. Once in Goa, you can tank up on its cheaper alcohol and gorge on a variety of food. Most recipes in Goa are inspired or heavily influenced by Portuguese cooking, though there are many that are indigenous.
The following are traditional Goan recipes that are served both at home and at the best restaurants in Goa:
* Sorpotel. This is an authentic Goan recipe rooted in the soil, and every Goan anywhere in the world will yearn for its lip-smacking taste during the festive time. It uses pork or lamb as the base ingredient, and incorporates a variety of ingredients to make a hearty gravy that is sweet and pungent by turns. It is normally eaten with freshly baked poi bread or chapatis, accompanied by fried eggs, sausages, wine or rum to complete the meal.
* Lobster meat or snapper dishes. Goa boasts of some of the freshest seafood catch in all of India, and the locals have perfected a variety of dishes comprising pomfret, mussels, lobster, prawns and snapper. Most home-style eateries in Goa serve whole fried fish in their fish plate meals, while larger restaurants in Goa serve a variety of freshwater and saltwater fish dishes. You can try lobster and snapper preparations cooked in home style spices at Susegado at The Leela Goa, a great restaurant in Goa for local delicacies.
* Shaak and Tondak. Not all Goans are non-vegetarians – the State houses a sizeable Marathi-speaking population that is largely vegetarian. Many Goan Saraswat communities living here have perfected a variety of vegetarian preparations that are unique to the land. A common vegetable preparation, the ‘Shaak’ is a sort of vegetable stew that uses seasonal produce and roots for a hearty meal, while ‘Tondak’ incorporates legumes and pulses in a thick broth or gravy. Both are cooked regularly in most vegetarian homes, with spices and sweetness adjusted as per taste.
* Feijoda. Goan cooking shows heavy Portuguese influences in terms of eating most gravies with bread, or using non-vegetarian raw ingredients even in chutneys and other accompaniments. However, some recipes, like Feijoda, have now become so commonplace that most people would think that they are original Goan preparations. Feijoda is a rich gravy made from pork, black beans, and homemade spices ground just before adding to the cooking pot. It is seasoned for a few minutes before eating with fresh black pepper. It is normally prepared during celebratory occasions like birthdays and weddings. Only the best restaurants in Goa serve this dish cooked to perfection.
* Chicken cafreal. Cafreal preparations are also derived from Portuguese cooking, but the Goan chicken cafreal incorporates a spicy, tangy twist with vinegar or lemon juice adding the required pungent flavour. Most people add a dash of rum to the gravy as it simmers in the pot, especially in the cold weather, to provide the necessary heat and body to the dish. The chicken is flash fried while the gravy simmers, and the dish is served with gravy and chicken poured over steamed rice, or with bread served on the side.
* Bebinca. Goans make a variety of delicious cakes and cookies, but they are justifiably proud of a true blue Goan dessert, Bebinca. The dish takes a long time to cook, and it is prepared in layers using eggs, refined flour, dessicated coconut, milk, sugar, nutmeg, homemade butter or ghee. Each layer is baked one at a time, so the dessert can take a long while to complete based on how many layers you pack in there. The layers are then placed perfectly atop each other and transferred to a square or rectangular tin.