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Experience Goa just like the locals

28 Sep

Wondering what to do if you ever decide to visit Goa. I’ll like to share with you what I look forward to doing every time I visit home (Goa). Through the years the list evolves for the tourist, but its the same for any goan who lives away and has missed home. The land is known for its Sun, Sand and Seafood or for its wine and song, which is true as the saying goes, if you throw a stone it will fall on a bar or a church. Goans as the locals are called, don’t need a reason to celebrate be it rain or shine but with all the  merry-making it is still considered the most peaceful place in India communally.

Goa is the Hawaii, for Indians. Very popular with the newlyweds from all parts of India and popular with the Europeans. The Euro stretches a long way in Goa then Hawaii where a gallon of milk  on an average cost $7.49. So cross over and experience the tropics.

1. Visit the beaches

Goa being a coastal state just like California has a coastline of 78 miles.The further north or south you travel the beaches are less crowded and cleaner. The Rich Aqua blue waters and the rustic white sandy beaches along with the warm tropical weather makes it a very scenic place to live or visit. Enjoy some great food on the “Shacks” which are wooden huts made with palm leave roofing. It couldn’t get any better than this.

Colva Beach, Goa

Colva Beach, Goa

2. Try the local foods

The local specialties which is hard to find in other parts of India are the Goan Sausages, Sorpatel made of pork, rice curry and fried fish, the local staple. Vindaloo a dish very popular in Goa and abroad and the freshest local seafood. Sweets like Bebinca made with coconut milk and eggs and flour, Dodol made with jaggery (raw sugar),coconut milk and wheat flour and Doce de Grao made from fresh grated coconut, gram dal and sugar.  These are just, to name a few.

Goan Sausages and its famous " Chorizo or Chouriço Pão" (Sausage Bread).

Goan Sausages and its famous ” Chorizo or Chouriço Pão” (Sausage Bread).

3. Try the local Spirits( Alcohols)

Goa has its own range of liquor, wine and beer. It’s not just called a party place for nothing. Popular wine is the Sweet Port Wine, influence of the Portuguese. Feni(Fenny) which is made from fermentation of the fruit of the cashew tree, while coconut feni is made from the sap of toddy palms. Try out Kingfisher or Arlem Beer a mild brew which are popular.

Kingfisher beer. Picture credit "phdrehabilitation.blogspot.com"

Kingfisher beer. Picture credit “phdrehabilitation.blogspot.com”

4. Visit churches

Most Churches built during the colonial period leave an everlasting impression on the visitors. Built during the 15th to 17th century they remain intact and still retain he old charm. Basilica of Bom Jesus Basilica, St. Catherine of Alexandria Cathedral, Church of St Francis of Assisi, church of Our Lady of Immaculate Conception, Holy Spirit Church and many more churches that offers a treat to your eyes with is architectural magnificence.

Holy Spirit Church in Margao, Goa is dated back in 1564-1675.

Holy Spirit Church in Margao, Goa is dated back in 1564-1675.

Basilica of Bom Jesus, final resting place of legendary Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, who worked in Goa and achieved sainthood after his death.  Picture credit to "eagersnap.blogspot.com"

Basilica of Bom Jesus, final resting place of legendary Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier, who worked in Goa and achieved sainthood after his death.
Picture credit to “eagersnap.blogspot.com”

5. Markets

Local marketplaces and flea markets offer a good opportunity for bargain shoppers. One of the biggest marketplace in Goa is the Mapusa market place in North Goa and Margao down south. It’s a great experience to a street market and local foods.

Margao Market

Margao Market

6. Festivities

I always want to experience the excitement of the Goan festivity and so my travel is scheduled around Christmas or just before Lent, its carnival time. Every street and corner of the state is perfectly decked up to set the festive mood of locals as well as visitors. The celebration is marked with lots of drinking, feasting and merry-making. Experience the “Dances” they have during the festivity which is dancing through the night with great live music and good food. No picture can capture the liveliness of the moment.

Christmas in Goa. Picture credit "www.travelhangover.com"

Christmas in Goa. Picture credit “www.travelhangover.com”

This will be a trip that will be etched in you memory forever.

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Goan food appeals to International palate

5 Sep

Goan food will appeal to the International palate with a little bit of extra spice and zing from the coconut vinegar. My finds are a few since my exposure to International cuisine is limited for now, but I was amazed by the similarities between the food and names as well.

1. A typical Thanksgiving stuffing is very similar to a snack dish called “Asorda” made from leftover bread and beef or just plain.

2. “Beef Croquettes” a very popular appetizer for parties and weddings derived from the French croquer, “to crunch” gained worldwide popularity, both as a delicacy and as a fast food.

3. “Pastelao” similar to the chicken pot pie in the US is made of beef stew with a crust.

4. “Empanadas” has variations, but is a name popular in Southern Europe, Latin America, and parts of Southeast Asia. Empanadas are made by folding dough or bread around stuffing, which usually consists of a variety of meat, cheese, huitlacoche, vegetables or fruits, among others

5. “Feijoada” popular in Brazil it almost always has black beans and always has a mixture of salted, smoked and fresh meats.The Goan version is made with Red kidney beans and spicy Goan Sausage or pork meat.

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Feijoada made with Red Kidney Beans and Goan Pork Sausage

6. “Congee” popular in China and other Asian countries is a thick porridge or soup of rice which has usually disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water. It is served with side of fish or meats or pickles.

7. “Bacalhau” common in Portugal, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico this dish is prepared with salted and dried cod, potatoes, onions, tomatoes and olives.

8. “Potato Chops” made in Goa from ground beef stuffed inside potato cakes and coated with cream of wheat or semolina and then shallow fried. Is similar to the Papas Rellenas (Spanish: stuffed potatoes) is a traditional dish in Peruvian cuisine.

9. “Dodol Christmas Sweet” which is made of a mixture of wheat and Rice flour along with coconut milk and coconut jaggery is similar to Sri lankans Kalu Dodol is a sweet dish,that is dark and sticky which consists mainly of kithul jaggery (from the sap of the toddy palm), rice flour and coconut milk.

10. Thanks to our Facebook fan Rohit , how could I ever forgot the most popular “Goan Sausages( Chorico)” . A bold flavor sausage the taste you will never forget. Typically made of pork meat but now you can find it in beef.

These are a few of my finds. If you know of any let it be the 11th .

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How Goan Coconut Vinegar (Vinagre) is made

31 Aug

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Goan cuisine is pretty much incomplete without vinegar or Vinagre( the popular word used, which is Portuguese) to add that sour flavor that is so famously associated with its food. In Goa, vinegar made from toddy is most popular and Goan food deprived of this important ingredient makes it incomplete. It is used in foods such as vindaloo, sorpotel, xacuti, sausages and is broadly used in soups, salad dressings, dips and recipes.

The process of obtaining this vinegar is done by toddy-tapper, who performs his job thrice a day on each coconut tree given to his care, morning, afternoon and evening. In the morning and evening the “vein” of the tree at its top is opened and the sap slowly drains into attached clays pot or plastic jug. During the afternoon heat, the toddy tapper climbs the trees and closes the openings so that the tree has time to recover its lost fluids. He climbs the trees using foot steps carved in the trunk and supports himself once in the tree tops by the base of the palm leaves.

Traditional Toddy Tapping is done for three consecutive days, enough sur [sap] is collected from the coconut trees to fill up a large jug. Once enough sur is collected, it is then subjected to a process which results in the production of vinegar by fermentation for a minimum of 6 months to a year and an alcohol called coconut feni, a distilled drink with a high percentage of alcohol.

There are also medicinal benefits to this all Natural Coconut Vinegar as well, which is rich in Vitamins like Potassium , Beta-Carotene, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorous, Sodium and also contains anti-oxidants which make this natural food such a great part of your diet for the benefits it provides.

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History of Goan Cuisine

28 Aug

goa-goan-goan-food-recipes-spices-sausages-vindaloo-cafreal-recheado-xacuti-bebinca-sorpotel-masala-indian

In the last 10 years Indian food has grown extremely popular in the US. Being in the US for the last 15 years I have seen that we in the US have become more explorative with spices and cuisines. The main stream media like the Food Networks and people inclining towards alternative medicine are creating awareness of the spices used in Indian cuisine and their health benefits. But as a Goan our cuisine has a different level of flavor. My goal is to create an awareness of this cuisines as it’s a blend of Indian and Portuguese with a bit mix of Arabic and Asian flavors that gives it, it’s uniqueness. Goan cuisine has various influences that are felt in both the Christian and Hindu households. The Portuguese brought potatoes, tomatoes, pineapples, guavas and cashews from Brazil to Goa. Of these tomatoes and potatoes were not accepted by the Hindus until the late 20th century. The most important part of Goan spices the chili, was introduced to Goan cuisine by the Portuguese which became immensely popular. The above mentioned ingredients were not used in Goan cuisine before the Portuguese.

Seafood, coconut milk, rice, and local spices are main ingredients of Goan cuisine. The area is located in a tropical climate, which means that spices and flavors are intense. Use of Kokum ( A sour plum which has a deep rich red color) is another distinct feature along with Goan chilies are also a must for most dishes, as is tamarind. Goans make their own version of vinegar from toddy. Rice, fish, and coconut are the basic components of the typical Goan food platter. Food made from these three items can be expected in nearly every Goan meal. Then there are innumerable Preserve, Pickles and chutney that are typical of the state.
So take the leap and experience something new.

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