A travel fanatic who has been to different corners of the Indian subcontinent will agree with the fact that the hills here, roaring up to the farfetched sky bring peace to our mind and the seas, sailing to far off places bring serenity to the soul.
Although unlike many other States with a coastline at a stretch, Goa is not just about high tides breaking at the shore, it has a diverse culture adding a silver lining to its century-old history, trailing back all the way to Lisbon. Being the smallest State of the country, it is a melting point for people from all over the world who love to feel the vibe of diverse cultures at one place.
Goa was brought into the light to the rest of the world by voyagers from Portugal, who came to the east with the intention of trade. A place which is known to all for a range of seafood preparations, Goa has a vast history engraved with timeless tropical spices from the Portuguese cuisine.
Some eminent Portuguese personalities who had come to Goa including Vasco da Gama who came from Lisbon to Calicut, followed by Pedro Alvares Cabral, Francisco de Almeida and Afonso de Albuquerque who gained territorial control of the state and laid a strong foundation of the spice trade in 1510. Goa became a Portuguese empire of the East.
These unions resulted in the amalgamation of different cultures and vastly in their exotic food items. The distinctive flavours of the Portuguese influence can be felt even today in native Goan cuisines.
In fact, it was the Portuguese who introduced potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples and cashew, vinegar, bread, chillies, passion fruit and much more in Goan cuisine. A state which indulged mainly in vegetarian delicacies made beef and pork a part of their daily meal.
The influence on cuisines was from both ends. Even today, Goan cuisine is famous in Portugal. The ‘chamuças’ or as we call it, the samosa is a famous Goan snack enjoyed in Lisbon. ‘Arroz Doce’ is the Portuguese name for what all the Indian natives know as rice ‘kheer’!
The Portuguese successfully inculcated Christianity amongst the natives of Goa, the proof of which can be found in over 300 churches and cathedrals spread all across the State. They made an eternal impression on the native Goan food by introducing different ingredients and spices. Everyone would agree to the fact that they enjoy an extra touch of taste in their food, hence adding a Portuguese flavour to Goan food was an eventful occurrence.
Famous blogger Hilda Mascarenhas has talked about the Goan ‘Pork Vindaloo’ and said, “The name ‘Vindaloo’ is derived from Portuguese dish ‘Carne de Vinhad’Alhos’ which is a dish of meat, usually pork, with wine and garlic. The Portuguese dish was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chillies with spices, to evolve into Vindaloo.”
Vindaloo is also known as Vindalho and Vindallo in Goa. “Traditional Goan Pork Vindaloo is intensely flavoured with fragrant spices and does not include potatoes. No celebration or any festive occasion in Christian households is complete without the Goan Pork Vindaloo,” she added.
The Vindaloo, which was a Portuguese dish of vinegar and garlic stew with pork or other meat, got jazzed up with different spices and chillies after coming to India. The word “alho” changed to “aloo” (Hindi for potato) after it got added to the dish. Another pork dish known as ‘Sorpotel’ (or Sarapatel) which is famous amongst people in Goa trails its origin back to the Alentejo region of Portugal.
The Portuguese not only influenced the major eating style of the Goan natives but also left mouth melting sweet and savoury dishes. ‘Kulkul’ or ‘Kidyo’ is a sweet dish in Goa which is made of sweet dough moulded into curls and then deep-fried and coated with sugar syrup. This is a must on a Christian dinner table during Christmas. It is said that Kulkuls are derived from the Portuguese dish, ‘FilhosesEnroladas’ which is also a Christmas sweet dish, curvy in shape, deep-fried and sugar-coated.
“You have to take in the fact that a large number of tourists that Goa attracts include hippies who settle down here and start small shacks, selling their native food and attracting tourists from their native countries. Over time, all these converged into an average which came under the Goan platter. Still, the influence of Portuguese cuisine, due to their history, is very evident,” said Souradeep Biswas, a 24-year-old culinary student.
The list of Portuguese influence on Goan dishes does not just stop here, ‘Bolosans rival’ or ‘Bolo sem rival’ which literally means cake without a rival is a traditional French cake brought by the Portuguese, this cake is exceptionally famous in Goa for its rich cream filling and extravagant cashew-nut crust. As delicious as it sounds, ‘Bebinca’ is probably the most famous sweet dish in Goa which is named after Sister Bebinca, a Portuguese nun who lived in 17th century Old Goa. It has seven layers signifying the seven hillocks in Lisbon and Old Goa.
“Egg whites were used for gilding gold in churches and to not waste the yolks, the nuns decided to make the custard-like dessert, which came to be known as bebinca or bebic,” said Goan chef Floyd Cardoz.
The ‘GalinhaCafreal’ is a spiced-up chicken curry which roots back to Mozambique, Africa, then a part of the Portuguese colony which was picked up and brought to Goa where it became a famous cuisine. Though, the dish changed drastically because it was originally a grilled dish which transformed into a fried dish in Goa.
‘Feijão’ which is the Portuguese for beans when cooked along with beef or pork becomes ‘Feijoada’ is yet another Portuguese dish which is popular in Goa where it is cooked with Goan chorizo and red kidney beans. The Portuguese introduced a variety of products which have become key ingredients in the Goan platter today. The chilli pepper is one of the essential spices added to almost every other Goan dish. The cashew which was brought in by Portuguese is an ingredient of the popular Goan drink ‘Feni.’
The list of Goan food which either originated in Portugal and came here or has Portuguese influence including, ‘Xacuti’, ‘Caldeirada’, ‘Prawn Balchao’, ‘Racheido’, ‘Dedos da dama’, ‘Pateis de natas’, ‘Petas de freiras’, ‘Pasteis de Santa Clara’, is endless. All these cuisines are unique in terms of preparation and promise to tickle the taste buds of unapologetic foodies and aficionados.
A globetrotter who’s looking for the best taste of Portugal in the Goan platter has to check out these restaurants which are famous for their Portuguese flavours –
• Pousada by the Beach – Located near Holiday Street, Gauravaddo, Calangute, this restaurant is amongst the most famous restaurants serving authentic Portuguese cuisines along with seafood and Konkan delicacies. Open from 11 am to 7 pm on all days, it is the number one destination for visitors in Calangute beach who wish to have a taste of Portugal in Goa.
Call: +91 9823685020, +919922279265
• Hospedaria Venite – Any continental food admirer should check this place out at 31st January Road, Panaji. This place serves not only continental dishes but also the best Portuguese platter and seafood. It also has a unique history and has been standing in this place since 1955.
Call: +919850467008, 0832 2425537
• Nostalgia – Located near Margao Ponda Road, Raia, Margao; this restaurant is the safe haven for people who are looking for Portuguese delicacies at a pocket-friendly price. It is also a famous joint in Goa for its homely atmosphere and traditional outlook and of course the freshly made ‘Sannas’. One can hop into this place anytime after 11 am baring Mondays!
Call: 08322777054, 0832 2777098
• Comida Caseira – The most important meal of the day is breakfast and if one wishes it to have a special touch of Portugal; this is the place to be. This restaurant is situated in Vagator Beach Road, Coutinho Vaddo, Vagator is famous for its special breakfast meals at a pocket pinch value.
Call: +91 9326746848
• Palacio Do Deao – Situated opposite to Holy Cross Church in Quepem, this restaurant also happens to be the place for people looking for dines which are easy on cash. It is famous for the unique Portuguese cuisine which is known to all visiting the beaches and churches of Goa.
Call: +91 9823175639
• Confeitaria 31 de Janeiro – Named after the street on which it is located, this place is one of the oldest restaurants serving a Portuguese menu in Goa. It is situated in Corte de Oiterio, 31 January Road, Panaji. It is extremely pocket-friendly and famous throughout Panaji for its authentic taste and flavour.
Call: 0832 2225791