Located on India’s west coast and just south of Mumbai, the state of Goa is a large tourist hub known for its beaches, warm weather and end of the year parties and concerts. It also has amazing food.
Goa was a colony of Portugal from the 1500s to 1950 during which local Konkan cooking has been influenced by European taste and technique to create a unique, fusion cuisine. Goan food takes a spice-heavy Indian cooking style and adds Portuguese elements like vinegar to make a series of mouthwatering dishes. Here are a few of the most popular dishes that you shouldn’t miss.
Xacuti is a mild curry made with a coconut base and a long list of spices, giving it a gentle but complex flavor. Have it with chicken, which allows you to taste the flavors of the curry in every bite.
Rechado is a style of steamed fish marinated in a mix of spices and vinegar. The vinegar counteracts the heaviness of the spice leading to a dish which feels rich in flavor but light at the same time. Rechado is best prepared with a white fish; try something local like king fish or rawas.
Seafood (Goan) Curry
Like many other traditional dishes, there must be a thousand different iterations of this curry through kitchens along the coast. They tend to use a base of seafood and coconut and a simple spice blend of medium spiciness giving us a homely dish that never gets old. Try this one with the seafood of your choosing, though I personally suggest prawns for the flavour and texture.
Rava fry is the Indian take on the batter fry and employs hot spices into the bread crumb mix leading to a savoury product that you can never get enough of. Try this with calamari for a new spin on the batter-fried calamari everyone’s had a thousand times.
Warning: vindaloo is one of the spiciest dishes on this list with its base of vinegar and dry red chillies. An intensely savoury experience, this one is best enjoyed with a rich meat such as beef or pork.
Balchao is in some ways the lovechild of the seafood curry and the rechado, taking the spicy, sweet and sour flavors of rechado and using them in a more curry-like base. Prawns work well with the intense flavors of this dish.
Chilly fry refers to a more modern dish of meat that has been pan-fried with onions and heavy local spices. While almost anything can be eaten chilly-fried, it’s best to eat this dish as was intended – with Goan sausage, a spicy, vinegar-heavy affair.
Most of these dishes are best accompanied by either rice or Pao, the local Goan bread.