Travelogue: When in Goa, you gotta eat!

Candid warning: This piece is for those who love to eat; for those who love to eat meat.

It’s not that veggies will starve in Goa. Of course, not! There’s a decent spread for them in every restaurant (popularly called shacks). But that really constitutes about 20-30% of the menu card. And the waiter (sometimes the owner of the shack, himself) smiles widest when you settle down and ask him: “What would you suggest in non-veg?”

You have to, however, truly and fully settle down every time you step into a restaurant in Goa be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. In Goa, words like ‘quick serve’ and ‘eat fast’ are not used in the same sentence. They expect you to find a table, relax and enjoy your meal for at least two hours. Soon you will realise that 75% of your expenses when in Goa comprised food bills.

And since you are spending that much on food, you might as well try their specialities and relish every bite, isn’t it? Read on to find out what are some of Goa’s yummiest dishes and make sure you ask for them when in Goa next.

Chicken Xacuti
This is one of Goa’s most popular dishes, loved by tourists and locals alike. You can make this in Fish and Prawn as well, but chicken sells most. Best enjoyed with white rice, the aroma of chicken in rich coconut curry cooked in a variety of roasted spices, will reach you before the dish. Goans take their food rather seriously. When they say ‘variety of spices’, the range includes coriander seeds, sesame seeds, cloves, jeera, methi seeds, khus khus and much more. It’s a yummy medley.

Prawn Balchao
It’s the Goan prawn pickle that can be prepared, stored and served with boiled rice or appams. Balchao, in fact, is a method of cooking the finely blended, spicy sauce. The sautéed prawns (or fish or pork for that matter) is added much later. Naturally, this dish is also easy to cook and is one of the most sought-after Goan recipes on the World Wide Web.   

Pork Vindaloo
Did you know that this fiery dish does not have any ‘aloo’ in it? The name is a combination of its two main ingredients – ‘vinho’ for wine (it’s mostly vinegar though) and ‘ahlo’, which is garlic in Portuguese.  It’s a traditional Goan preparation, spicy, tangy, rather oily, but when mixed with hot rice, it’s heavenly!

Chicken Cafreal
Onions, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, pepper, chilli, and fresh coriander leaves… this juicy chicken dish has it all to give your meal the perfect, delicious start. The green tandoori-like chicken fry is an all-time favourite in Goa, introduced (like most things Goan) by the Portuguese. It’s served with all the usual decorations – garlic bread, sautéed veggies, etc. – but you’ll hardly notice them on your plate. Truth be told, couple of minutes later you won’t notice the chicken pieces either.

Fish Fry
If it’s Goa, there has to be a fish item in the hot seller list. No meal seems complete without it and the chefs (or your host if you are visiting a Goan family) serve you nothing less than the best. The only confusion, if any, would be about which fish to net, mackerel, pomfret or may be a kingfish. Whichever the eventual choice, this is one tender, crispy preparation that always warrants a repeat order.

So, there’s your mini Goan menu card that you can refer to next time you’re in the coastal area. Because George Bernard Shaw once said: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.”

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