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Cuisines of Goa
The Portuguese Delicacies
Not unnaturally, after 450 years of colonization, Goan cooking has absorbed a strong Portuguese influence. Palm vinegar, copious amounts of Coconut, Garlic, Tangy Tamarind and fierce local chillies all play their part.
Goa is the home of the famous Vindaloo, originally an extra-hot and sour pork curry, but now made with a variety of meat and fish. Other Pork specialties include Chourico red Sausages, Sarpotel, a hot curry made from pickled pig's liver and heart; Leitao, suckling pig; and Balchao, pork in a rich brown sauce. Delicious alternatives include vinegar chicken, spicy chicken or Mutton Xacutti, made with a sauce of lemon juice, Peanuts, Coconut, chillies and spices.
The choice of seafood, often cooked in fragrant masalas, is excellent - Clams, Mussels, Crab, Lobster, Giant Prawns - while Fish, depending on the type, is either cooked in wet curries, grilled or baked in Tandoor clay ovens. Try Ape de Camarao, a spicy prawn pie with a rice and Semolina crust. Sannam, like the south Indian iddli, is a steamed cake of fermented rice flour, but here fermented with palm Toddy (also spelt as Todi). Sweet tooths will adore Bebinca, a rich, delicious solid Egg Custard with coconut.
When it comes to fruits Goa have the Pineapple, the Melon, the Banana, the Pawpaw, the Custard Apple etc., but surpassing them all is the MANGO. One can find a huge variety of them but the sweetest, the most luscious and the most ravishing in taste, are the "Alphonso", the "Fernandina" and the "Malcorada", and without exaggeration, the best in the world.
Serving Or Eating Style / Traditions Eating Patterns
Food is usually served in bowls and placed on long tables surrounded by several chairs, where the whole family can sit together for a meal. A meat or fish dish is a must in every meal, but vegetables are also essential. The vegetables are usually cooked without any spices or masalas unlike the northern cuisine. There is no special style as such in eating food in Goa. All the dishes are eaten together as usual in plate.
Popular Dishes Pastries
Pastries are almost a part of every common meals as well as occasion and feast in Goa. Christmas and the Ganesh Festival are occasions when they are prepared in all their varieties. Being the land where coconut is abundant it is not surprising that in quite a good number of these sweets coconut milk is used. However, the queen of the delicacies is the "Bebinca". It is made of eggs, pure ghee, flour, coconut milk and sugar. Other Goan pastries would include "Doce", "Cokad", "Dodol", "Bolinhas" and "Jia de Aronhas".
Rice is an important item of Goan diet. One will find it at every table and almost at every meal. Rice is eaten with delicious fish or meat curry, or in the form of "Pulao", and many other ways. A leavened and steamed bread called "Sana", another a round pastry called "Oddo", the steamed South Indian "Dossa" and "Iddli", a great number of sweet dishes made with rice and jaggery etc. are some of the regional preparations of Goa.
Beverages/ Drinks Goan Food And Drink
Goa has few of the dietary restrictions or taboos that apply in their regions of India, both Hindu and Muslim. Here the idea of vegetarianism is probably more equated with poverty than purity, and drinking alcohol is not the shameful activity as it is elsewhere. The Goan Palate relishes meat, especially pork, and all kinds of fresh seafood.
Feni - Goa's "National" Drink
Gently swaying coconut palms and bright red or yellow cashew apples can be found occupying Goa's half landmass under crops and their sap or juice is the source of Goa's popular "national" drink, Feni.
Making Of Feni
Palm Feni is pure but a strong drink ranking with the strongest spirits. It comes from Toddy, which is produced by tapping the sap from the base of the young palm shoots. Growers have to choose between producing Feni or coconuts because once tapped, the young shoots cannot go on to produce nuts, but the decision can be reversed with the next growth of shoots according to market demand.
Unfermented, the Toddy make a nourishing and refreshing drink and when strained and boiled down to crystallising point, it produces palm jaggery, the coarse brown slabs of sugar used in Goan sweet dishes.
Within hours of tapping, the Toddy ferments to about 4% of alcohol. Often, it is drunk soon afterwards, but when distilled, the first gives the more potent Urrack, a favourite drink sold in the local bars.
Types Of Feni
The famous palm Feni is the result of the second distillation. It's name in Goa's local language 'Konkani' means 'froth', a name attributed to its reaction during processing.
A second type of Feni that is even more popular is 'Caju' Feni derived from the cashew apple. The Cashew is the legacy from Portuguese who introduced it to Goa from Brazil. Cashew Feni is usually drunk after the first distillation, but one can also find it double-distilled, flavoured with Ginger, Cumin or Sasparilla to produce a smooth liqueur.
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