Untangling the secrets of Goan cuisine
In my home, the moment I mention Goan food the first thing that springs to my family’s mind is a Goan Fish curry or a chicken cafreal. The reality is there is far more to this exotic cuisine than meets the eye.
Love and marriage whisked me away from my country of birth Nairobi Kenya to the bustling busy city of Mumbai. The highlights of my three-year stay in India were our frequent holiday trips to Goa. Located on the western coastline of India the state of Goa boasts a tropical climate which in fact enhances its cuisine. The Goan tables speak a colorful story one richly laden with a melange of spices and spice pastes, heavenly aromas, the sourness of tamarind, kokum and vinegar and the sweetness of coconut. Goan food truly is a celebration of diversity and has been influenced by a great number of cultures, like Portuguese, Arabian, Malabar and the local Hindu cuisine to name a few.
Most dishes abundantly employ fish, rice, and pork – the norm or traditional favorite is the Goan fish curry and rice meal often accompanied by a small side fish fillet encrusted with semolina and fried to perfection. The Goan sausage or chorizo is a representative of Goa’s Indo Portuguese influence. My husband is an absolute foodie and his love for Goan food is observed first hand in the number of Goan Chorizo plates he can consume in one holiday, not to mention Goa’s native cashew liquor Feni. Legend has it that a potent shot of Feni was once glorified as the best cure for coughs, colds, and indigestion, something Goan grandmas glorify to date. My two daughters, on the other hand, are always game for the rich creamy coconut laced curries such as The Goan Fish curry or Green Coconut Chicken Curry. The vegetarian in me craves something lighter and holistic such as Goa’s famous monsoon curry Sorak – a thin soupy curry made with onions, Kashmiri red chilies, and coconut milk and served on a bed of steamed white rice – simplicity at its best.
Goa is a food lovers paradise, if you are a lover of airy ambiances, seafood, and spice then a visit to Souza Lobo’s beach shack in Calangute is sure to tempt your palate.
If you’re looking for something different and your taste buds wish to travel from Goa to Greece and bathe like the gods and goddesses in golden sunsets then a must-try is The Thalassa Tavern on Vagator – they have everything from Txatziki’s, feta, salads, and Gyros.
For those of you who love Goan cuisine and also love history and heritage, a huge attraction in Goa is the Basilica of Bom Jesus located in old Goa. A UNESCO world heritage site this church is breathtakingly serene and beautiful and is home to the mortal remains of respected St Francis Xavier.
Sunrises, sunsets, majestic beaches, natural beauty, temples, churches, a variety of cuisines and an intense history have all made Goa one of India’s most sought after destinations.
THE SIMPLEST & MOST DELICIOUS GOAN FISH CURRY EVER
Ingredients for the curry
- 2 boneless skinless fillets of sole
- fish cut into two’s
- 2-3 tablespoons of oil
- 1/2 finely chopped red onion
- 5 curry leaves
- A small ball of tamarind
- 1 can coconut milk
- 3/4 cup water
- Sea salt to taste
Ingredients for paste
- 2 tablespoons Kashmiri red chilies
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1 tablespoon oil
- Enough water to blend into a thick smooth paste
- A handful of fresh coriander leaves
- A sprinkle of black pepper
- Blend all ingredients for the curry paste into a smooth velvety thick paste
- In a heavy-bottomed pan heat the oil on a medium-low flame and fry the onion till it turns just slightly golden in colour.
- Add in the curry leaves and curry paste and continue to stir and cook for about 50-60 seconds.
- Add the coconut milk and bring this curry to a gentle boil.
- Add the fish pieces, water and ball of tamarind and simmer on a low flame.
- Sole fillets cook very fast so once the fish is 3/4 cooked add sea salt to taste and simmer till fully cooked
- Garnish and serve with steamed rice.