Originating from Konkani roots but heavily influenced by 450 years of Portuguese rule,
Goan food is unlike any other Indian cuisine. While it has many nuances, this creative range can be broadly divided into Portuguese- and Saraswat-inspired fare, with one thing in
common—theyʼre both equally mouth-
wateringly appetising. Check out these
seven iconic dishes to get a taste of
By PRACHI JOSHI
This complex Goan curry is usually prepared with chicken, lamb, beef, or even with vegetables. While coconut forms the base and spices such as chilli, black pepper, and cloves are used, the addition of lightly toasted white poppy seeds sets it apart from other curries. Mop it up with pao in true Goan style or eat it with rice if you prefer— either way this flavourful curry makes for a comforting meal.
Try it at: Vinayak Family Restaurant, Assagao.
The perfect way to round off your Goan meal! Bebinca is a luscious, multi-layered cake made with coconut milk, ghee, egg yolks, flour, sugar, and nutmeg. Traditionally, it has between seven to 16 layers, requiring a laborious process that involves each layer being cooked individually. A Christmas specialty, its immense popularity means
that bebinca is available all year round at restaurants and shops across Goa.
Try it at: Viva Panjim, Panaji.
Exemplifying Goa’s Indo-Portuguese heritage, choris or chourico are European-style sausages from Portugal. The pork is heavily salted and sun-dried, rubbed with spices, toddy vinegar and feni, stuffed in casing, and smoked to make choris. Stuff it inside crusty Goan pao (type of bread; another Portuguese import) to make the perfect street-side snack!
Try it at: Valanka Fast Food, Colva.
A spicy tangy pickle of sorts, balchao uses a litany of spices and a generous quantity of vinegar (traditionally toddy vinegar, but the dish can also be made with malt or white vinegar). Onions and tomatoes are used as a base and ground along with red chillies, ginger, garlic, pepper, cumin, and other spices. While pork or fish can be used, balchao is most commonly made with prawns and is usually eaten with chapati or rice.
Try it at: Martin’s Corner, Betalbatim.
This delicious, Saraswat-style vegetarian curry is made with a fruit adored by Indians—ripe Goan mangoes (ghotam). The pulpy curry, which is sweet, tangy, and mildly spicy, gets its name from the addition of mustard (sansav) in its composition. Freshly grated coconut is used as a base along with some jaggery. The typically thick curry is usually eaten with steamed rice. A delightful treat!
Try it at: Kokni Kanteen, Panaji.
Arguably the most famous of all Goan dishes, this tangy fare perfectly complements the rich texture of the meat. Of course, it can be made with chicken or lamb, as well. It’s a common misconception that vindaloo contains potato (aloo), but the name comes from the Portuguese words for wine (vin) and garlic (alho). The Goan version uses palm vinegar instead of wine. The red chillies give the stew its fiery colour.
Try it at: Hospedaria Venite Restaurant & Bar, Panaji.
Ambot Tik Curry
The real star of Goa’s curry repertoire, ambot tik literally translates to ‘sour and spicy’. Unlike most Goan curries, it contains no coconut. Instead, it uses onion and tomato as a base. Ambot tik is usually made with shark meat, although prawns and squid are also used. Have it with sannas (steamed rice cakes) for a satisfying meal.
Try it at: Mum’s Kitchen, Panaji.
Vistara offers daily direct flights from Bangalore, twice daily direct flights from Delhi and Mumbai to the Dabolim Airport, as well as daily direct flights from Bengaluru and direct flights six times a week from Mumbai to the New Goa International Airport.