The Goan Cuisine

food from the Portuguese 

When the Portuguese ousted Adilshah of Bijapur and took control of Goa, they brought with them their own culture, which was also a blend of cultures, mostly Latin and Moorish. They were the first Europeans to colonise a region of India before the British. Goa has been influenced by Portuguese culture, which contributed to establishing today’s distinctive Goan identity. When the Goans adopted Christianity, their eating patterns altered. The upper and middle classes began to enjoy eating beef and pork as part of their diet. 

Flatbreads like rotis and chapatis were part of the Goan diet prior to the arrival of the Portuguese. The bread known as Pao was brought in by the Portuguese. Since then , especially amongst the Christian community, bread has become a vital part of the Goan diet.

The Goan Hindu and Goan Christian groups each have different preparations. To add a sour flavour to meals. Hindu Goan community frequently uses tamarind and kokum, while  Christians’ cuisine liberally uses vinegar, an ingredient that is typically not seen in Indian cuisine.

The Portuguese dish “carne de vinha d’alhos,” a meat dish that is typically made with pork with wine and garlic, is where the word “vindaloo” comes from. The Goan vindaloo was wrapped in spices and vinegar in place of the red wine in the original recipe. Portuguese culinary customs also have a strong influence on the popular Goan Chouricos (hot pig sausages). The hot sausages go with Pao or rice as a side dish. Egg yolks, sugar, coconut milk, flour, and butter are used to make the Indo-Portuguese delicacy known as bebinca. It is a layered dessert that is commonly found in Goa.

Indigenous food

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines GI as “A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.” Goa has several products with the GI tag.

Cashew Feni

The history of the state’s well-known, all-natural, aromatic cashew spirit goes back over 400 years, and now boasts of a GI (Geographical Index) tag—the first food in Goa to have acquired one, in 2009. The term ‘feni’ is derived from ‘phena’ in Sanskrit, which means ‘froth’. Goa is home to several taverns, some over a century old, where cashew feni is available in bhattis. The drink has a unique, strong, slightly bitter flavour. In recent times, new-age liquor labels are bottling feni in small batches, in an attempt to cater to a younger, more experimental demographic.

Myndoli Bananas

Believed to have first been introduced in the village of Moira in Bardez by Franciscan priests, the ‘Moira banana’—or ‘Myndoli keli’ in Konkani—is now cultivated in other regions such as Pernem and Bicholim. The application for a GI tag for the banana was first filed by the Pernem-based Myndoli Banana Growers’ Association. These bananas are sweet, golden-yellow in colour, and can be eaten raw or used for cooking.  

harmal chilli

Harmal Chilli is grown in the Pernem taluka in North Goa. The Harmal-Pernem Chilli Growers Association made the application for the GI tag of Harmal Chillies and received the tag in 2020. Receiving the GI certification means that only the produce from this region of Goa can be sold under the brand name of Harmal chillies. These chillies are short in length and are used in almost all Goa food preparations. They are an important part of Goan cuisine.

Khola Chilli

Khola Chilli is grown in the Khola village in the hill slopes of Canacona taluka of south Goa. It is also called the Canacona Chilli or Kholchi Mirchi. The Khola/ Canacona Chilli Cultivator’s Group Association (TK CCGA) filed the application for GI tag for this chilli and received the tag in 2020. The chillies have a long length and are bright red in appearance. These chillies are used in the traditional dishes of Goa such as recheado masala for fish, green chilli pickle, raw mango pickle and Goan papads among others.

Goan Khaje

With its origin dating back a few centuries, the Goan Khaje, also known as kaddio boddio, is a sweet made using jaggery, chickpea flour, ginger and sesame seeds. It is shaped like finger-sized batons and is usually eaten as a snack. 

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