What is ‘fov’— that all-important Diwali ingredient in Goa?

Goans love their rice and find myriad ways to use it, including in the form of ‘fov’ during Diwali
'Fov' is cooked in a whole variety of delicious ways in Goa at Diwali time
'Fov' is cooked in a whole variety of delicious ways in Goa at Diwali timePIC COURTESY: Marmite by Voltaire, Betim

We all know that our festivals are a direct reflection of our land and its resources. It is seen in the way we celebrate, in our rituals and customs and definitely in the festive food. Let’s look at the one of the biggest festivals of the country, Diwali, which celebrated on October 24 this year.

In different parts of the country, this occasion is celebrated in varied ways—in North India it is predominantly believed that on this day, Lord Ram came back to his homeland Ayodhya after killing the demon king, Ravan. Thus, the whole town started celebrating by lighting diyas.

In Goa, it is believed that on this, day Lord Krishna killed the demon Narkasura.

Legend says that after killing the demon, the first thing Krishna did, after taking the ceremonious bath, was have his favourite meal made from flattened rice, locally known as fov or poha.

'Fov' is cooked in a whole variety of delicious ways in Goa at Diwali time
Recipes: Chanyachi Usal & Biyanche Raite


In Goa and other coastal regions of the country (also in Indore, Madhya Pradesh), this fov is a staple. Made from rice, fov is the main ingredient to make various delicacies on the day of Diwali. In every Goan household, where Diwali is celebrated, there is a tradition of waking up early in the morning, having a ritualistic bath, crushing the karit (Cucumis trigonus) under the feet, and after tasting its bitter flavour you relish the plate of fov.

Among the Goan community, after exchanging the Diwali greeting the next obvious question is “fov khalle?” That translates to “Have you eaten fov?”

On this day, a variety of fov are made—sweet and savoury—by Hindu Goans. In some families, there is a custom to make at least five types of fov.

Different types of 'fov' which are available in Goa -- white, brown and 'fulayalem fov'
Different types of 'fov' which are available in Goa -- white, brown and 'fulayalem fov'PIC COURTESY: Arti Das

But, one may wonder why only fov or flattened rice is used on this day of Diwali? The answer is all around us—it’s the time of harvesting paddy. After four months of paddy cultivation, now is the time to harvest, dry, de-husk, and store this paddy for the future use.

Neelam Dutta, of Ranchiood-Goan Kitchen facebook page mentions, “Our region is rice- producing, and one of the chief processed rice product is fov. Diversity in fov recipes helps create more demand and generate more revenue for local food producers. Basically, the aim was to support (generate revenue for) primary food producers in the region.”

At this time of the year, drying of paddy is a common sight all over Goa
At this time of the year, drying of paddy is a common sight all over GoaPIC COURTESY: Arti Das


Fov, as we know, is made from rice and there are also variations in it. The two main categories are—brown and white fov. “Brown rice is made from the Jyoti variety of rice, while white is made from the Jaya variety,” says Nagratna Phalgaonkar of Laxmi Rice Mill at Gaodongrem, Canacona.

While talking about the procedure, she explains that it all starts by soaking rice in water for at least 10 hours. After that, the water is drained and the rice is sun dried. It is then roasted in a roaster on the layer of sand to arrest burning of the rice. And finally, it is flattened.

“We usually sell around 500 bags of fov (one bag contains around 26 kg) of brown fov. We mainly sell that as it has a good demand during Diwali,” says Phalgaonkar, who sources her rice from Margao, Old Goa, etc. This year, she maintained that the production is less due to unseasonal rains that hampered the paddy harvest.  

'Fov' is cooked in a whole variety of delicious ways in Goa at Diwali time
Gearing up for Diwali in Goa

“We sell around 10 tonnes of fov during the season of Diwali. The main market is for the brown fov made from the Jyoti rice variety,” says Jayesh Naik who owns a rice mill at Tivre, near Banastarim.

He elaborates that he prepares the flattened rice in a traditional way on a traditional burner on a metal wok, and not on a roaster. This roasting of rice starts as early as 4 am as it takes time to heat the wok. “We make it in a more traditional way and thus our fov is little expensive. Also, other factors like low paddy harvest, labour costs are impacting our business,” says Naik. He sources the sand, used for roasting, from Belgaum/Belgavi.

He uses Jyoti for brown rice and Jaya and Karzat for white fov. He sources his rice from different parts of Goa, mainly from Margao, and currently, sells it directly to customers at a rate between ₹ 70 to ₹ 80 per kg for brown fov, and between ₹ 60 to ₹ 70 per kg for the while fov. At his mill, people can also get their own rice and he will convert it into fov for them.

'Fov' is cooked in a whole variety of delicious ways in Goa at Diwali time
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Along with these two varieties, there are other variations of fov such as:

  • patal fov, that should only be eaten raw as it gets mushy if washed

  • gol (rounded fov)

  • lamb (long fov)

  • fulayalem fov (the puffed fov).

“We also sell fulayalem fov as it is used to make chivda. Also, some non-Goan communities find our local fov too thick, so they prefer the thin type of fov. The fov which we make is a little thick as it should not become too soggy after the wash. The other varieties which are sold in markets usually come from neighbouring states,” informs Naik.

He also adds that chirmuli/chirmule or the puffed rice, which is also heavily used during Diwali, is usually not made in Goa and comes from neighbouring town of Belgaum/Belgavi in Karnataka. “Making chirmule is a tedious process as it needs to be cured first in salt, etc. In Goa, what we get in the market, comes from Belgaum and it is usually sold in liters as it is light in weight,” elaborates Naik.

All this only shows how versatile rice really is! The paddy fields which are so integral to Goa’s landscape, ecology, economy and definitely culture, comes to the forefront during Diwali in the form of fov and its varied avatars.

So, this Diwali make sure that your platter is filled with a variety of fov, with a wish of getting a bumper harvest in the times to come!

'Fov' is cooked in a whole variety of delicious ways in Goa at Diwali time
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