Nothing beats the warm feeling a meal of homemade kodi (curry) with some steamed rice and fried fish can evoke. There's an explosion of flavours that can satisfy one's soul. Such exceptional curries are prepared using locally availed ingredients and age-old techniques, seasoned and served with much love.
THE ART OF MAKING A GOAN-STYLE CURRY
Just like an artist with his palette of paints, Goan mums arrange their palette of different spices. Each of the ingredients is carefully picked to give curries their unique colour, flavour, aroma and texture. Expertise comes over the years, and those using the kitchen on a daily basis just eyeball the selection and measurement of ingredients.
The preparation of curries requires roasting, grinding and letting all the ingredients come to a perfect blend and consistency. A very essential thickening agent used in most Goan curries is ground coconut.
Seafood like prawns and fish or seasonal vegetables are also added to enhance the flavour of the curry. Everything is then allowed to boil until the entire kitchen is filled with a distinct aroma which is enough for a Goan mum to tell that it is ready to be served.
The manner in which curries are prepared is unique to every region, and, in Goa, you will find every household having its own tailored way of preparing one, something that suits their taste. Hence, there are plenty of variations in the simple everyday curries that are eaten in Goa.
1. Sambarachi Koddi / Samarachi Kodi
A combination of local spices, tamarind, dried red chillies and dried prawns (sometimes substituted with fresh ones) are added to prepare this Goan curry. This unique preparation pairs well with Goan ukdem rice (red rice) and a vegetarian side dish.
Due to the scarcity of fish during the monsoons, many Goans substitute their curries with sambarachi kodi prepared with dry prawns. It's also made for special occasions like a pre-wedding Catholic tradition called 'bhikareanche jevon’ where the bridal couple seeks blessings by inviting the less privileged.
As the name suggests, “ambot” means “sour” and “tik” means “hot”. This red Goan curry is spicy and tangy. Unlike most Goan curries, ambot-tik is prepared without the use of coconut and, therefore, has a water-like consistency. When eaten the next day, the taste of the curry is enhanced even more.
The curry masala is prepared by grinding soaked tamarind, red chillies, cumin seeds, turmeric and ginger into a paste that's added to sautéed onions and tomatoes.
A cup of water, vinegar, green chillies, some seasoning and fresh fish like shark, catfish or mackerel are added and left to simmer until cooked. It's enjoyed well with hot rice or even some sannas.
3. Sourak / Sorak
Sourak is a humble orange curry that's mildly spicy and has a slight tanginess depending on the ingredients being used. This delicious curry is consumed daily with steamed rice or local bread.
It is prepared with freshly ground coconut, kokum, red Kashmiri chillies and some spices. Since no fish is added to this curry, many Goan households consume it during the monsoons when fish is scarce.
A very nutritious curry, khatkhate has a variety of vegetables added to it. This delectably flavoured vegetable mix/stew suits the taste buds of all.
Since onion and garlic are absent in the preparation, this curry is consumed in Goan Hindu households during religious festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and wedding celebrations.
There is no fixed list of vegetables added to this curry. It simply depends on the preference and availability. Carrots, drumsticks, pumpkin, gourd, bamboo shoots, French beans and corn are boiled and cooked in their juices with some coconut, lentils and spices.
The dish gets its flavour and aroma from a spice called teppal/tirphal and is enjoyed with some rice and dal or roti.
Hindu households in Goa prepare fish curry that’s called hooman. It’s a comforting curry that is prepared using grated coconut paste which is infused with spices, turmeric, red chillies and tamarind.
This flavourful, tangy curry has variations depending on the kind of seafood added, such as sardines, prawns, mackerels or anchovies. It goes well with some steamed rice.
A lemon yellow, non-spicy Goan curry, caldin is traditionally cooked with some seafood like fish, prawns or shellfish but sometimes substituted with vegetables such as cauliflower, cabbage, ladyfingers, etc. This curry usually makes an appearance on buffet tables at Catholic weddings.
The preparation of caldin involves making the masala by blending coconut, some spices, tamarind and water into a very appealing yellow paste. To some sautéed onions, garlic and tomatoes, water or coconut milk is added.
The fish (or vegetable) is then introduced and left to cook in this preparation. Towards the end, the masala is added with some sliced green chillies, and the curry is ready for plating.