Food of Goa

The Goan identity is rooted, among other things, in deep enjoyment of food and drink.The basic components of Goan cooking are, not surprisingly, local products. The claim that every part of the coconut is used for something is not an idle one. Coconut oil, milk and grated coconut flesh flavor many dishes, while toddy, the sap from the coconut palm, is also used to make vinegar and to act as a yeast substitute. Another important product of the palm is jaggery, a dark colored sweetener that is widely used in preparing Goan sweetmeats.

Goan cooking generally involves liberal amounts of spices, too, giving dishes a strange taste and distinctive aroma. The most commonly used include cumin, coriander, chilies, garlic and turmeric. Another local ingredient used to flavor fish curries is kokum. Particular combinations of spices have led to a number of styles of cooking, which have subtly differing flavours-masala, vindaloo and balchao being some of the most famous.

Goa is famous for its seafood, the ‘classic’ dish being fish curry and rice. With the variety and range on offer, however, combined with the skills of the local cooks, there is a mouthwatering choice. Kingfisher is probably the most common item, on the menu, but there are many others including pomfret, doumer, shark, tuna and mackerel. Among the excellent shellfish available are crabs, prawns, tiger prawns and lobster. Other seafood includes squid and mussels.

For the sake of our little tastebuds, many beach shacks and restaurants present seafood lightly spiced, or without spices at all. In this case the food is generally either fried, grilled or cooked in garlic sauce. Traditional Goan cooking methods, however, generally involve seasoning the seafood in some way.

Among the most famous Goan dishes is ambot tik, a slightly sour curry dish which can be prepared with either fish or meat, but more usually fish. Caldeirada is a mildly flavored offering in which fish or prawns are cooked into a kind of stew with vegetables, and often flavored with wine. Racheiado is a delicious preparation in which a whole fish, usually a mackerel or pomfret, is slit down the center and stuffed with a spicy red sauce, after which it is cooked normally.

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