Food and Goa are inseparable because Goans love their food more than anything else in the world. It is the food that helps families and friends strengthen their bonds. The amicable and hospitable nature of Goans is also evident in the way they serve food to others at social occasions. Be it a birthday, an anniversary, a festival or any other celebration without food it would never be a celebration for Goans. Due to the presence of the Portuguese era in Goa a lot of our food has Portuguese connection to it. Dishes like Balchao, sorpotel or the famous Raechado masala that goes into cooking of most Goan dishes have the Portuguese essence. Since food is such a huge subject in Goa, I would like to talk about the main categories, as street food, home food and food in recent times in Goa.
Street food is one of the most sought after in Goa, especially in the evening time when one sees all these carts or “gadas” as we call them in Konkani. The one thing in most demand is “cutlet pav”, then we have “choris pav” and for those who aren’t big fans of meat, they will for sure look at “omelette pav” (my mouth’s already watering at the mention of these names, guess that’s the love we Goans have for our food). It’s pretty much clear that Goans love their ‘pav’ in any form. Besides this there are gadas that sell vadas, mirchis and kappa (made of potato) that are also a hit among the vegetarians. We also have sev/bhel puri carts lined up along coastal areas which attracts a lot of people too. Another street food popular among Goans is “shawarma” and youngsters today find it both healthy and filling too.
Coming to the food in Goan homes, the variety of food available is vast and if I go on mentioning the name of all the dishes found here this article of mine would never end. So I like to stick to the minimal. The staple diet of the Goans includes fish, curry and rice. Goans are very possessive about their “nustem” and the lady of the house will make sure she doesn’t compromise on the quality of the fish while buying it from the nusterak/nustekann. Besides there are dishes like ambot tik, chicken cafreal and xacuti that we all love.
For the vegetarians they love their Sol kadi, bhaji, papad and pickles. Goan food at homes is also dominated by a lot of feasts and festivals. While the Hindus make their traditional veg delicacies which comprise of ambadeacho ross, ussal, phovu etc. The Catholic feast celebrations are incomplete without sannas and sorpotel, besides having the aros, beef roast among the other items. Goans also love sweet dishes a lot, so sweets like Doce, Bebinca, Dodol, perad are made in Goan homes. Besides evening savories like alle belle, tizan, godshe and besan ladus are also prepared unfortunately our kids nowadays don’t really know about these dishes but the grandparents of the house will tell us a lot about them and how they used to enjoy these during their childhood days.
There have been a lot of traditional bakeries in Goa and am sure most villages in Goa has atleast one bakery that provides for the mandatory bread requirements of the villages. Besides these bakeries serve snacks like patties, croquettes, cake, bolinhas, in the north they also serve the “bol” which is simply yummylicious when had fresh. However, with changing times the food needs of Goans have also changed no wonder there have been numerous cafes and fast food joints mushrooming in Goa. Be it club sandwiches, pizzas, burgers, juices, milk shakes or chicken tandoori and Chinese food all have made their place in both areas the Goan palettes as well as their tummies and are a big hit with the kids too.
There are various good restaurants in Goa and also since Goa has been blessed with beaches, shacks along the beaches make for an excellent place to dine. With the breeze in your hair and the sound of the waves hitting the shore, eating at such places becomes an irreplaceable experience. Most of the shacks serve excellent seafood and tandoor items and you see a lot of people at these locations. Some of my favorites at a beach shack are the lepo fry, mussels rava fry, tamso (red snapper) masala fry, chicken tandoori and cheese garlic naan.
Besides there are places where you get authentic Goan food like Nostalgia and Martin’s corner in the south and Ritz Classic in the north. There are also fine dining restaurants that serve various types of cuisines Leda’s in Colva and Pepper’s in Margao are famous for their beef steaks. There are also pan Asian restaurants like Tao in Panjim and Red Ginger in Colva. Then we have Italian restaturants like Da Tita’s in Majorda and Magic Italy in Palolem to name a few. Goa is a home to various kinds of people including foreigners who have come to Goa and set up their restaurants in Goa since they all know that Goans and food are inseparable from each other. The Greek restaurant Thalassa by Sara Todd in the north and The yellow Chilli by Sanjeev Kapoor which is located in Mall the Goa are few examples of the same.
It is said that “Good food is equal to Good mood” and that’s totally true. A big credit to the happy smiles on the faces of most Goans goes to the food that Goans love to savor. No matter where in the world a Goan travels once back he/she always wants a satisfying meal of their ‘fish curry rice’ as nothing and no one can take away that love for the Goan food from a Goans heart. Long live Goans and their love for food. Viva Goa!
Guest Writer : Jovita Fernandes
Pic Courtesy : Jovita Fernandes