A platter full of happiness (above) Goa’s famous Fish Thali

Chilies galore! Take your pick for your masalas

When you indulge in a hearty Goan meal, your taste buds explode with a riot of flavours. Author Biula V. Cruz e Pereira in Food & Identity: A Journey of Goa’s Food Customs elucidates the distinct Goan taste with four ‘S’: spiciness, sourness, sweetness, and saltiness. A Goan recipe acquires its classic taste from the rich masala ground to a paste. The standard ingredients include Kashmiri red chilies, garlic, cloves, coriander seeds, etc. Ingredients like vinegar and tamarind give the dish a hint of sourness. Earlier, a dash of rock salt was added for taste. Jaggery (palm or coconut) is a common sweetener.

The preparation of masalas differs between communities as well. Catholics prepare the spicy recheado paste with vinegar and other spices to give it that tangy taste. Sannas (close to the Indian idli) in Goa are made with toddy. Hindus add urad dal to ferment the batter.

Fatima Gracias in Cozinha de Goa: History and Tradition of Goan Food explains that the Goan Hindu cuisine has four masala combinations. These are garam masala, simple masala, tondak masala, and shagoti or xacuti. Coriander leaves, garlic, cumin seeds, ginger, and coconut lend to the aromatic flavour.

Today, there is no dearth of restaurants serving Goan cuisine. Chicken cafreal, xacuti, vindaloo preparations are on everyone’s menus for the tasting. Another popular addition is the Goan thali served with rice, fish gravy or dal, local bhaji, and sol kaddi. The size of the thali varies from a simple meal starting from Rs 100, to the elaborate for Rs 300 onwards.

As the saying goes, while in Goa, enjoy a meal like the Goans do.

Author: Planet Goa Team
For us at Planet-Goa, our team is driven by that feeling of exhilaration that one gets when discovering that something ‘unique’ and ‘new’ about Goa for our ever-so-discerning readers.

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