Inspired cuisine of Goa

Text and Pics: Sapna Girish Sardessai

The Goan cuisine is perhaps India’s most cosmopolitan. There is a fine line between what is authentic Goan cuisine and what is the result of strong influences from our colonial past. A number of  recipes are also the result of our close interactions with neighbouring states and are today so popular that they have been adapted to suit the local palate, and make use of local ingredients. This makes Goan food not only diverse, but infinitely richer.

Drumstick Flower Cutlets

The Goan drumsticks are juicier and tastier than the ones available elsewhere, or so it is believed. If the drumstick is used in curries and vegetables, the tender shoots and leaves of the drumstick tree are cooked with jackfruit seeds making for a nutritious vegetable. The drumstick flowers are used to make a stir-fried vegetable in northern parts of India or make for delicious cutlets back home.


1 cup fresh pumpkin flowers, lightly chopped; 1 onion, finely chopped; 3 tbsps grated coconut; 2 green chillies, finely chopped; 1 slice of sandwich bread, dipped in water, drained and loosened; 1 small tomato, fined chopped; marble-sized ball of tamarind, soaked in a little warm water; 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander; 1 tbsp chopped garlic; 2 tbsps coconut oil; ½ tsp each chilli, turmeric, cumin & coriander powders; ¼ teaspoon sugar; salt to taste; semolina and gram flour (besan) to coat


Heat oil in a pan and stir fry garlic, onion, tomato, green chilli and drumstick flowers one by one and then add the powders, coconut, sugar and salt. Add the tamarind juice. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Add the bread. Combine and form into cutlets.

Mix together the semolina and besan 3:1. Coat the cutlets evenly with this mixture and shallow fry in coconut oil on a non-stick griddle on slow heat until golden brown.

These cutlets can also be made with prawns. The shelled prawns have to be stir-fried along with the onion.

Stuffed Moira Banana

The local Moira bananas (or myndoli  kelli) are the product of a Goan village called Moira that grows these bananas in abundance. This particular recipe is an interesting combination of the sweet, sour and spicy, and the cuisines of Goa and Southern India.


4 overripe Moira bananas, cut horizontally into 4 parts each, depending on size and then slit vertically to put in the filling;1 teaspoon mustard seeds; 2 tablespoons ghee for frying; For Chutney filling (1 cup freshly grated coconut, 3-4 green chillies, 4 tbsps freshly chopped coriander, ¼ tsp cumin seeds, tamarind, sugar and salt to taste)


Grind together with very little water the ingredients for the green chutney to a coarse paste. Stuff this filling into the bananas. Heat ghee in a shallow non stick pan and fry the bananas on both sides, on slow heat, till golden brown. To get the right color you may turn up the heat a bit once the bananas have cooked, but do not leave for long, else it will burn.

To serve, season mustard seeds in ghee and pour over.

Bitter Gourd Vegetable

 Most Goans have shied away from this bitterest of gourds, probably because the Goan preparation of karathi (karela) pretty much makes you abhor the gourd. This combination of a North Indian-Maharashtrian bitter-sweet recipe makes the bitter gourd so delicious.


4 medium sized, tender karelas, lightly de-skinned, cut into fine discs and kept immersed in water; half cup grated coconut, ¼ cup grated jaggery; ½ teaspoon chilli powder; ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder; ½ teaspoon garam masala powder; 1 tablespoon oil; salt to taste


Heat oil in a pan and stir fry the onion. Once the onion begins to change colour, drain and add the gourd discs, fry a bit, add very little water, lower heat and cook covered, with water on the lid. After about ten minutes, remove lid and check that the karela has gone soft, add jaggery, coconut, the powders and salt to taste. Combine, and cook till dry.

Goan Prawn Pulao

This is a simple pilaf that is very typical in Goan Catholic households and is a style influenced by the Portuguese. It atypically makes use of vegetable or meat stock that adds to the flavour.


2 cups long-grained Basmati rice, washed, drained and kept aside for ½ hour for best results; ½ cup shelled small sized prawns; 3 tablespoons fresh green peas; 1 small tomato, chopped fine; one medium-sized onion, chopped fine; one onion, sliced and deep fried in oil till crispy brown (optional); 2 green chillies, finely chopped; 4 garlic flakes, chopped fine; ¼ tsp crushed ginger; 5 peppercorns; 1 black cardamom; 1 small cardamom; 2 bay leaves; one ½ inch piece of cinnamon; 3-4 cloves; 1 tsp turmeric powder; 4 cups hot vegetable stock (or water); 2 Maggi cubes, powdered; 2 tbsps oil; fresh coriander, chopped; sugar to taste; salt if required


Heat oil in pan. Add spices (peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamoms), when they sizzle, add chopped garlic and ginger, then add finely chopped onion, green chilli, tomato and green peas. Stir fry. Add the shelled prawns. Stir fry. Add the rice and combine. Add the stock/water, preferably hot. Add the turmeric and Maggi powders and the sugar. Cover with firm lid and allow to cook on slow heat. Within 6-7 minutes, water will have dried up, but not completely. Turn off heat. Keep covered till rice fluffs up but the texture is still moist.


Serve garnished with fresh coriander/toasted and salted cashewnuts/fried onion.

Drumstick Pitlé

This is a dish that is commonplace in Mumbai, Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, Sattara and is known there as Pitlah. Goans have introduced drumstick to it and call it Pitlé.


2 cups besan 9gram flour); 2 drumsticks, deskinned and cut into 2-inch pieces; 1 bulb of spring onion, chopped; ½ cup grated coconut; spices (½ teaspoon coriander seeds, 2 cloves, ½ inch piece cinnamon); 1-2 green chillies, chopped finely; marble-sized ball of tamarind; ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder; ¼ teaspoon chilli powder; 1 tbsp oil; 1 tsp ghee; ½ tsp mustard seeds; salt to taste


Lightly boil the drumsticks in 2 cups of water, adding a dash of salt. Be careful not to overcook. Keep aside.

Grind the spices coarsely and then add the coconut with a little tamarind. Grind further. Do not add water.

Heat a non stick pan and dry roast the besan on slow heat till you get a distinct aroma and the besan begins to change colour. Add the oil, spring onion and green chilli and roast it further. Add jaggery, turmeric and chilli powders, ground coconut, salt to taste and the drumstick with its liquid. Combine. Sprinkle a little more water. Cover with lid and slow cook.

Heat ghee in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard begins to pop, pour this tadka over the Pitlé.


This is also called the Macau or Sawdust pudding and is a popular dessert served in Goa.


3 small tetrapacks of Amul milk cream; one tin of Milkmaid condensed milk; 150 gms of Marie biscuit, ground to a coarse powder; salted & toasted cashewnut bits



Whip the cream and fold in the condensed milk. Whip again. Pour into a moist pudding bowl or moulds. Allow to settle. Dust the biscuit powder evenly over the pudding (you may store the remaining powder for future use). 

Sprinkle cashewnut bits and/or chocolate shavings. Deep freeze till firm. 10 minutes before serving, keep the bowl/moulds in the lower compartment of the fridge.

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