These culinary essentials aren’t from Goa!

A multitude of tantalizing ingredients go into the making of Goan dishes. And, many of the foods, that are now an inseparable part of Goa, came from far-flung destinations
Several fruits and vegetables, such as the chikoo, came to Goa via the Portuguese
Several fruits and vegetables, such as the chikoo, came to Goa via the PortugueseGomantak Times

Hundreds of years ago, the meals eaten by the people of Goa were probably very different from the cuisine that we enjoy today. Why, you might ask. For the simple reason that many of the ingredients – potatoes, tomatoes, chillies, to name a few – that are used in local cuisine today, were unheard of back then.

Most fruits and vegetables, that are so essential in the Goan kitchen, are not indigenous to the land, but reached Goa’s shores not too long ago.


Vasco da Gama's discovery of a sea route to India, in 1498, led to intensified sea trade between India and the Portuguese, British, French and Dutch; while the Moghuls (1526-1857) granted liberal trade concessions to foreign powers. This maritime trade brought new and exotic food items to India.

Goa was the first European colony in Asia, and became an important trading centre of the Portuguese, and in the bargain, received goods from various parts of the world, including Africa, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and South East Asia.

The introduction of a variety of such exotic plant species resulted in a gradual change in the agricultural economy and food habits of the local populace, and India, in general. By the early 18th century, the cultivation of tobacco, chillies, chickoos, guavas, sitaphal, pineapples, oranges, cashews, papayas and breadfruit was established in South India.

Before Vasco da Gama came to Goa in India (ie before 1498), the main crops of India were limited to rice, lentils, cotton, sugarcane, wheat, jowar and bajra. There were no chillies, potatoes, tomatoes, peanuts, pineapples, guavas, papayas, maize, custard apples or pumpkins.

After the arrival of Vasco da Gama (1498 onwards), several new crops were introduced ie chillies, peanuts, potatoes, coriander, cashewnuts, brinjal, pineapples, papayas, tobacco, and exotic species.

Most of these items were soon incorporated in the food habits of Goa, and the rest of India. Here’s a list of a few food items, and the country from which they were brought to Goa.

  • Chillies: Came from South America (probably Chile)

  • Guava (Per): Came from Peru

  • Sweet limes: Came from Mozambique

  • Capsicum, potato, wheat, tomato: Came from Latin America

  • Bimbli: Came from South East Asia

  • Chickoo: Came from Guatamala, Mexico

  • Onions: Came from Egypt

  • Cloves: Came from Indonesia

  • Oranges: Came from Japan

  • Green peas, cabbage, cauliflower: Came from Europe

  • Poppy seeds: Came from Turkey

  • Moira Bananas: Came from Africa

  • Custard apples: Came from Indonesia, Malaysia

  • Mulberry: Came from China

  • Cashews: Came from Brazil

  • Pineapple, papaya: Came from South America

Several fruits and vegetables, such as the chikoo, came to Goa via the Portuguese
6 souring agents that add punch to Goan cuisine

Your Gateway to Goa, India

The Gomantak Times app is the best way to stay informed on anything happening in Goa. From breaking news to the top 10 restaurants to visit, GT helps you navigate your time in Goa.

Download the Gomantak Times app on your Android or IOS device.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Goa News in English on Gomantak Times