A vegetarian’s guide to ordering Goan food

Gone are the days when vegetarians visiting the state would struggle to find a meal; shortlisted here for you, are a few of the Goan vegetarian delicacies you can order at various times of the day.

For decades vegetarians visiting or living in Goa had one complain; “there are not many vegetarian dishes to relish and even fewer places who serve these dishes”. This has certainly changed over the past few years, with almost every restaurant / pub / shack, serving a range of meat free delights. World cuisine has penetrated the Goan palate and a vegetarian need never go hungry in the state, instead is often spoilt for choices even at restaurants traditionally famous as seafood heavens.

Goan cuisine itself has a range of vegetarian delights be it breakfast, lunch or dinner meals, which most visitors often don’t end up ordering. So lets’ look at some of the mouthwatering delicacies which one can order around Goa (unless you have a local friend who loves to cook), to make their vegetarian tummy happy.

First and foremost, take a sip of the refreshing Kokum drink. Kokum fruit and products made from it are found in abundance along the Konkan coast. You can buy a bottle of the readymade juice from almost any grocery store in the state, or order mocktails / cocktails made out of Kokum at most eateries. Oh! And don’t forget to pick up a few bottles for your friends back home.

Goan Ras Omelette

A popular street food and a dish exclusive to Goa, the ‘Ras Omelette’, is a must have if you want to immerse your taste buds in the local cuisine. The key ingredient is the ‘Ras’, pronounced as ros, which refers to gravy and although the popular variant of this is made with chicken broth, an alternative version is made with chickpeas and the gravy consists of onions, curry leaves, black mustard seeds, scraped coconut and spices. The omelette which can be made with different ingredients along with egg, is prepared separately and the hot “ras” is poured over the fried omelette. This dish is served with the ‘Goan Poi’ (Goan version of pao bread), chopped onions and a dash of lime juice. Its best consumed at the roadside stalls spread throughout the state.

Khatkhatem with rice

While our seafood loving friends devour prawn curry rice, us vegetarian lot can relish the mixed vegetable curry with rice or poi. The vegetable curry rice is also known as sorak within the state. This simple yet nutritionally rich dish can be easily ordered at any of the restaurants or shacks across the state, where Goan food is served. Locals mostly prepare this during the monsoon months, due to a scarcity of fish.


Perhaps one of the strongest culinary influences which the Portuguese left behind was the Feijoada. And while popularly, this dish is a stew of kidney beans with pork or beef, we also have the option of savouring a rather delicious veg variation of this dish, made with kidney beans and a variety of seasonal vegetables. Typically made with pink beans (also known as Portuguese beans), the dish can be consumed by itself or with rice / poi.

Mushroom Xacuti

Coconut is an essential part of the Goan cuisine and Mushroom Xacuti, most often served with poi, is cooked by simmering mushroom in a flavorsome curry. The often orange-ish yellow coloured curry has coconut as the main component, and the dish is preferably cooked with wild mushrooms. The curry can be also consumed with parathas, rice, and your regular bread, if you can’t lay hands on the traditional Goan bread.

Tambi bhaji

The red amaranth, which can be sourced from any local vegetable vendor in Goa, is cooked across homes in Goa. A locally grown vegetable, the leaves of this leafy vegetable are red and green, and is highly rich in antioxidants. In fact, in many Goan households the tambi bhaji is cooked with the least amount of accompaniments to retain the natural flavor. If you have had enough of lettuce, then the red amaranth is your new find for salads as well. When in Goa, pick out a bunch of these leaves and try cooking some on your own, if you have the means to or head out to a Goan restaurant and order the same.


While the Bebinca and Dodol, remain the most popular Goan desserts, the Goan cuisine has a repertoire of dishes for those with a sweet tooth. One such dish is ‘Tavsali’, or the Goan version of the cucumber cake. Prepared either baked or steamed, tavsali is considered to be a very healthy dessert in Goan households. Coconut and semolina, are an integral part of the dessert and raisins, cashew nuts, etc. are often added to taste.

So, all you vegetarians out there! What’s the moral of the story? Be it the most popular or the least famous non-vegetarian dish, if it’s on the menu, there HAS to be a vegetarian version of it, for sure. So, don’t hold back and order the veg variants of popular Goan dishes unabashedly!

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