A quick introduction: As a Goan who was born and raised in Mumbai, a major part of my daily diet was seafood. Since we lived near the coastal region (The Arabian sea) fish was in abundance. Now Indian food is extremely spicy, however food along the coasts is always hotter. The main reason for this was the need to sweat as the weather is always hot & humid.
Goa’s culture is an interesting amalgamation of both eastern and western styles, with the latter having a more dominant role. A significant Portuguese influence is seen as Goa was one of their territories. The food culture is either, Goan -Catholic which is largely non-vegetarian OR Goan-Hindu which is mostly vegetarian.Since the state has a 25% Catholic population, pork and beef is consumed widely as well.
A simple meal in a Goan house will consist of rice,a fish curry ,a simple vegetable (grown locally) ,fried fish and chutneys. Curries are generally made by dry roasting and grinding spices along with coconut. Its not for the faint hearted as the spice is palatable to only a few.
The chili which is the most important aspect of Goan cuisine was introduced by the Portuguese. They also introduced cashews which gave birth to their most popular beverage Feni.
Goan-Catholic: Breakfast in Goa is nutritious and healthy. Most times its some kind of protein accompanied by locally baked bread. Ros omelette – An omelette drowned in spicy chicken or chickpea gravy and served with pão is popular among most people. Seafood delicacies like pomfret, kingfish, shark, tuna and mackerel are easily available. Kismur– A type of side dish normally consisting of dried fish (mostly mackerel or shrimp), onions, and coconut is made and stored during the monsoons as fresh fish isn’t easily available given the bad weather. Sorpotel – A very spicy pork dish made with vinegar,ginger,garlic and red chillies ,that has been steamed and fried in its own fat is often eaten with sannas or pao (Goan bread). Since Sorpotel takes along time to cook its reserved for celebrations.
Goan-Hindu: A Hindu meal is largely vegetarian. Vegetables like pumpkins, gourds, bamboo shoots, roots, etc are grown locally. Batatyachi bhaji-Potatoes that have been boiled, mashed coarsely with ingredients like asafoetida, mustard seeds, chillies, onions, curry leaves, served with pao. A lentil preparation often made with coconut milk tempered with mustard, hing, curry leaves, and chilies, served as an accompaniment to rice is a staple dish in a vegetarian meal. Different varieties of pickles and papads are served as sides.
Solachi kadi is a drink made of coconut and kokum (Garcinia indica) which is had after a meal as it improves digestion (remember the spice). Its almost customary for a Goan to take a nap post lunch. Most restaurants and small businesses stay shut for a few hours during nap time (no I’m not kidding).Desserts are not very sweet or rich.Dodol is a sweet toffee-like sugar palm-based confection. It is made from coconut milk, jaggery, and rice flour, and is sticky, thick and sweet.Puran poli is an Indian sweet flatbread that has a jaggery filling.
The life of a Goan is about food,music and alcohol. They are warm-hearted people with a big appetite. This lifestyle of a Goan is what makes them laid back, fun-loving and easy-going people. Don’t be surprised if you get invited for lunch by a Goan, even if its your very first meeting with them. They are just super nice that way.