Goa is a mesmerizing land situated in the west coast of India. Its exotic beaches, natural beauty, colorful culture and delicious cuisine have earned it a unique spot in the national as well as international arena of tourism. Goa has a strong influence of Portuguese and Indian culture. This union is reflected in the cuisine of Goa as well.
The history of the development of present day Goan cuisine dates back to around 500 years back when the Portuguese sailed to East in their quest for exotic spices. They landed in Goa and were impressed with the beauty of the land as well as the local spices and condiments. Eventually, they turned it into their main settlement area in India. This was the turning point from where a unique romance between the spicy Indian and bland European food culture began. The hot and spicy local food was mellowed down to make it a pleasing matter for the gentle European tastes. The local cooks of Goa combined their unique sense of using spices with the continental food and invented an amazing cuisine that was acceptable to people of both culture and retained the identity of authentic Goan food. Today the cuisine of Goa stands tall among the best cuisines of India.
Goa being situated on the coast of the Arabian Sea, the cuisine of Goa is heavily based on sea-food. The typical food of Goa revolves around rice, fish, coconut milk and local spices. As Goa is located in the coastal area, fish and coconut milk feature primarily in the cuisine of the land. Kokum is another favored fruit which is extensively used in the dishes of Goa. Due to the tropical climate of the land, spices and condiments are hugely favored by the people in their food.
The cuisine of Goa is primarily non-vegetarian. Beef, pork, chicken, prawns, etc. make this cuisine a delightful affair. Since Goa is famous as a tourist destination and has lots of international visitors, the cuisine of Goa has an international aspect to it and avoids the use of hot spices and chilly.
Since Goa is a confluence of both Hindu and Portuguese culture, the cuisine of Goa can be categorized into two sections. One is the Goan Hindu cuisine, which bears the influence of the native Hindu food culture and the other is the Goan Catholic cuisine, which caters to the taste of the Portuguese settlers.
The Goan Hindu cuisine is distinctly different from the Goan Catholic cuisine. This category of Goan Hindu cuisine favors a taste which requires less spices and very little oil. Onion and garlic are not used much. The main stress lies on the use of lentils, vegetables, bamboo shoots, roots, etc. Vegetarian as well as non-vegetarian dishes find equal importance in this cuisine category.
The Goan Catholic cuisine is a confluence of Konkani, South Indian, Portuguese, British and Saraswat cuisines. It has a very different taste as compared to its counterpart category. This cuisine category is mainly favored by the Catholic community of Goa.
The food culture of Goa is a happy union of East and West and is very different from that of mainland India. Due to its tropical climate and proximity to the sea, Goa is blessed abundantly with coconut trees. This abundance has resulted in the extensive use of coconut in the cuisine of Goa. Coconut oil and coconut milk is used in the preparation of a variety of dishes that involves the use of fish, prawns, lobsters, murals, and other seafood.
Since this cuisine is mainly seafood based, pomfret, tuna, shark, mackerel are favored choices of the natives. Among the shellfish, the crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid and mussels are high on the popularity list of food enthusiasts. Kingfish, which is also known as Vison or Visvan, is a favorite delicacy of the people of Goa. Spices from the states of Maharashtra and Kerala are used to prepare sumptuous meals in Goan cuisine. The people of Goa have adapted the Portuguese method of preparation of meat. The meat is soaked in spice concoction and cooked later to get an extremely appealing flavor and taste.
Fenny is the favorite beverage of Goa. It is well-known world over for its distinct taste and is hugely popular among the natives as well as the tourists.
Pork Vandaloo is another characteristic dish of Goa. This exotic dish is prepared by cooking pork in rich oily and spicy gravy. The local saying goes that it is impossible to enjoy any other pork delicacy once a person has tried the taste of Pork Vandaloo. Among the other famous delicacies of Goa are Goan fish curry, Canja de Galinha (a blend of chicken pieces and rice), Ambot-Tik, Prawn Balchao, Fish Recheado, Sorpotel, Chicken Cafreal, Chouricos, Bebinca, Xacuti, Feijoada, Sanna, Tondak, Solachi curry, to name just a few. Arroz Dose is a Portuguese version of kheer and an eminent Goan dessert.