The subcontinent of India is entirely too large and diverse to tackle as one entity.
Goa (/ˈɡoʊə/ (listen)) is a state on the southwestern coast of India …It is surrounded by the Indian states of Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its western coast. It is India’s smallest state by area and its fourth-smallest by population.
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Legend has it that Lord Parshuram, the sixth incarnation of Lord Vishnu, shot an arrow into the Arabian Sea to create Parshuram Kshetra of which Goa was one part. Known in the past as Gomanta, Govapuri, Govarashtra and Gopakapattana, this tiny state has a rich social and economic history that is reflected in its festive traditions, its arts, crafts, cuisine and architecture.
The climate sounds nice enough:
Goa’s climate is equable, with high temperatures generally in the 80s F (30s C) and low temperatures in the 70s F (20s C) throughout the year. A southwest monsoon blows between June and September. The state receives about 115 inches (3,000 mm) of rainfall annually, most occurring during the monsoon season.
Mung dal (split mung beans, also called moong beans). She’s using yellow mung dal. Dal refers both to beans/lentils and to the resultant soup. But this version looks absolutely delicious [4:36]:
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Goa stands out in India for its Portuguese colonial architecture and heritage. The Portuguese invaded Goa in 1510, lured by the exotic East and the promise of lucrative spice routes, before being booted out in 1961. Their indelible mark is still evident in the state’s baroque architecture, whitewashed churches, crumbling forts, colorful Catholic ceremonies, mournful fado music and the stunning cathedrals of Old Goa.
Goan style fish curry looks terrific:
Of all the region’s dishes, along with Vindaloo perhaps one of the most well known is Goan Fish Curry…. [I]t’s an aromatic curry with a blend of spices, garlic, ginger and onion along with fresh tomato and coconut. And unlike other popular Indian curries, such as everybody’s favourite Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala, Goan Fish Curry has a touch of tang to it which cuts through the richness of the sauce.
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Pottery is one of the traditional arts:
The potter is Goa’s oldest craftsperson and pottery Goa’s oldest craft. Long before history was recorded, it was the Goan potter who provided the temple with clay lamps and cooking vessels. It was he who brought fresh supplies of eating, drinking and cooking vessels for mass meals. Freshly made clay vessels were considered pure by their very nature. They were fashioned out of earth, water and fire, three out of the five basic elements that support life. This gave the potter added status in Goan society.
Oh, that vindaloo:
Vindaloo is an Indian dish based on the Portuguese dish Carne de Vinha D’alhos (meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic). Like many other dishes that came to India and were tweaked to suit the Indian taste palette, Vindaloo also underwent it’s changes. Spices like cinnamon, cardamom, pepper etc were added to enhance the flavour. But the major change wasn’t with the spices. Since vinegar in itself wasn’t available in India during that period, an alternative had to be found. The Franciscan priests came up with this great idea to make palm vinegar from palm wine. This is how palm vinegar or toddy vinegar found a place in the Indian version of the Vindaloo.
Goan pork vindaloo [6:28]:
The great thing about this dish is that it is very flexible. If you don’t eat pork, feel free to use chicken, beef, or even jackfruit as a vegetarian option.
Tender fatty chunks of pork are cooked in a vinegar and chilli spiked curry until fork tender, and luscious. This dish is perfectly paired with hot basmati rice or chapathis/parathas.
[From the YouTube description]
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Portuguese tiles are famous worldwide. And when the Portuguese went to Goa, they took their blue tiles with them.
There was a time when Goa imported blue tiles, called azulejos, from Portugal to decorate homes and foyers of official buildings. Hand painted tiles and tiles as replicas of the charming windows from Goan houses are now a major indigenous craft. While the hand painted tiles are simpler to execute (unfired tiles called “biscuits” are hand painted and then fired), the replicas of Goan windows are a little more complex. Clay is shot through a pinhole into vacuum moulds and compressed until it sets. It is then prised apart and the tile finished, hand painted and then fired. Each mould has a life of about 100 tiles and it is the imperfection of the hand painting that gives each tile its exclusivity.
Apparently there’s a helluva Carnival, too.
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Food is enjoyed fully in Goa, as it is throughout India. The scents, spices and flavours of Goa’s cuisine will surprise and tantalise even seasoned travelers: whether it’s a classic fish curry rice, a morning bhali-pau (bread roll dipped in curry), a piquant vindalho, with its infusions of wine vinegar and garlic, or a spicy xacuti sauce, the Indo-Portuguese influence is a treat for the taste buds.
[NB: “Curry” is an over-simplistic term encompassing all of the complex sauces of India. If I use it here that’s because it’s convenient — and because I am not conversant with the many nuances of the varied Indian cuisines. But it’s wrong.]
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These look amazing:
Goan rice pancakes are part of a whole world of crepes, dosas, and pancakes made with rice. They are rich, spongy, and oh so tender. Eat them on their own as a satisfying breakfast served with some fresh fruit or fried eggs. Or serve them for a snack anytime, and they make a stand-in for flatbreads to eat with curry.
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All the many influences and the political turbulence has had a deep-seated effect on Goa’s culture and its economy. Various crafts and trades thrived and perished according to the immediate needs of its citizens under these various rulers. The economy was primarily agrarian between the 4th and the 10th centuries when the Kadambas ruled over Goa.
There was trading in gold, silver, paddy, cotton fabric, black pepper, perfumes and betel leaf. Crafts like smithy, weaving of yarn, brassware, bamboo-ware and jewellery flourished. Arab dhows bearing coconuts, dates, pepper, cardamom, cloves and other goods had kept coastal trade thriving since the 6th century. When the Portuguese arrived in Goa in the 16th century, Goa’s trade had extended as far as Mecca, Aden, Zanzibar and Ceylon.
It is suspected that the dish originated in the Portuguese colonies in Africa, most likely in ʽMozambiqueʼ. “À Cafreal” means “in the way of the Cafres” and cafre was the designation of the inhabitants of Cafraria, the region of Southern Africa inhabited by non-Muslim peoples.
Chicken cafreal [6:42]:
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The use of the nacre of the mother-of-pearl shell to cover windows may have originally come to Goa from Gujarat via Bassein and Diu but it took Goan carpenters to perfect the art. Glass came to Goa as late as 1890 and remained an expensive building material well into the 20th century. The nacre of the mother-of-pearl shell was preferred over glass as it allowed for a subdued filtered light to come into rooms of a house while affording privacy. This gave windows in Goan homes a warm translucent look from the outside while cutting off glare on the inside.
Xacuti is a popular chicken or mutton curry that is heavily spiced with pepper, poppy seeds, coconut, and chiles. The dish is a specialty of the Indian state of Goa, where it was brought over by the Portuguese, who colonised the area in the past.
Xacuti is characterized by its vibrant colors, which come from the Kashmiri chiles, and layers upon layers of complex flavors, making it a favorite local dish.
Mutton xacuti [7:37]:
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Mushroom Xacuti, for samanthab — looks vegan to me! [5:57]:
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The banana is not just an inherent part of the Goan diet but also assumes ritualistic importance as the long plantain from a village named Moira in North Goa is considered Lord Ganesh’s favourite fruit. The banana plant also symbolic of fertility, prosperity and wealth and almost every home in Goa will have a banana plant in its backyard. Apart from its contribution to Goa’s culinary skills, banana and pineapple plant fibres are traditionally used to string flowers into garlands (sheetals) while modern-day artisans are turning the banana fibre into a material to fashion tableware.
Now, here’s a fun video about making cashew liquor by traditional methods. Feni is only made in Goa [9:21]:
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Lagniappe: Sweet banana breakfast buns! [6:55]
So come on in and grab a cuppa…
…and a nice nosh…
…and join us!
New Day Cafe is an open thread. What do you want to talk about today?
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.