The cyber-aroma of
By Frederick Noronha
For Planet Goa Food Guide
Goan food can be luring. But unless you’re based here, it can also be far away and difficult to access. So, the next best thing is to find out more about this enchanting cuisine via cyberspace. You can get info about it, tips on how the tastes are crafted, or even hints of what to expect if you’re only visiting Goa.
Below are five tips on how to find your way around Goan cuisine on the Internet.
1 Nothing like an informative Facebook group. Let me warn you: Goan food can be super popular. For a tiny, district-sized state, you might be surprised by the large size of some Facebook groups focussing on this theme.
Traditional Goan Foodies is a 165k-strong group. The team leading this page comprises Karen Coutinho Ahmed who works for The Toronto Star, Erica Valles, David D’Souza in Toronto and Leanne Mascarenhas. This spot in cyberspace is meant to be “a place to learn and share our knowledge about traditional Goan food”. Also “fusion is welcomed by us as long as it stays close to the original recipe or method”. The site acknowledges that some recipes might not be “typically Goan”, but have over time “become very much part of our Goan food”. Advertising is not appreciated here. Check out their crowd-sourced list of recommended restaurants, even if a few spots seem misplaced.
2 There are other Facebook groups, where the approach of crowd-sourcing information and experiences is used. Since the members of these groups tend to take their food seriously, and are passionate about the same, there’s quite a wealth of tips here. Even casually browsing can help you to get new ideas or old information, or both.
Some such groups include Goan Foodomania, another large group run by Ashwini Kamat Tendulkar, Natasha Desai Lawande, Brijesh Naik and Prasad V Raicar.
Konkani Food and Beverages was meanwhile created some six years ago. Sometimes, the term ‘Konkani’ goes beyond Goa alone, and extends to other parts of the Konkan.
The Goan Food Selling Page is intended for those “who cook and bake [Goan food] at home and don’t have a platform to sell”. Only food items welcome here — whether cooked, baked, fruit or veggies.
3 There are other links which might surprise you too. The world of Goan bread was in the news, when a young mum decided to venture into this field. Not only did Alison Jane Lobo decide to bake her own bread (“the family ate a lot of rocks for a time, and then it became softer and softer”) but she decided to teach the skill to others.
Goa has a centuries-old tradition of making bread (so much so, that Goans are half-depreciatingly called ‘pao-walas’ in nearby Mumbai, a city 600 kms away to which Goans migrated in large numbers at one time). But locals are proud of thir bread; there in fact were fears that the bread-making skills were getting lost with time.
Lobo says it’s not tough creating your own bread (“you have to be careful with the yeast”) and currently runs classes thrice a month out of Dona Paula, close to Panjim. She offers eight varieties of bread. “Everything is locally available, and it’s so cost-effective as well,” she said in one media interview here. In February 2019, Lobo said she had 450 students, which then went up to over 800 a little over half a year later.
Lobo also makes chilli chocolates, making use of some of the spiciest chillies in the world. On tasting, you don’t get just a hint of chilli, but the full force. She does liqueur chocolates as well.
4 Goan food does travel too. There’s no reason why knowledge about food from Goa has to come from this tiny region itself. Its culinary ambassadors have, by now, spread out far and wide.
Take the page Celebration In My Kitchen, for instance. It is the creation of Jessie, who says she developed her “passion for cooking at age 13, influenced by my mother who was a brilliant and an amazing cook”.
She grew up in Mumbai, “in apartments populated by people from Goa, I was exposed to Goan food everyday”. Her mother too cooked “what she knew best and that was Goan food”.
Moving across time, Jessie has been in Canada for the past two decades, and that’s from where she now promotes her Goan food worldwide. She sees Goan food as “influenced by the Portuguese… a perfect blend of spice, sweet and sour”.
Her pages have a range of imaginatively-named recipes. In the pickles section itself, these include kingfish or mussle molho (a sweet-tangy-spicy fish pickle), prawn or pork balchao (a spicy and tangy tomato-chili sauce), miskut or mango pickle, para or dry fish pickle, Goan brinjal (eggplant) pickle, carrot pickle, bitter gourd pickle, lime pickle, dry Bombay duck pickle, lime chutney, mango water pickle, mango chutney, stuffed mango pickle, sweet and sour mango pickle, and even mackerel pickle! Each is quite different from the other.
Other sections that the recipes come in include appetizers and snacks, breakfast, beef, Goan bread, festive sweets, egg dishes, mutton dishes, pork dishes, poultry dishes, rice dishes, sauces-chutneys-preserves, seafood dishes, Goan sweets, veg dishes, powders and masalas, and more.
5 You could also get an introduction to Goa’s “street-food” via some online links. Nalini Souza, a talented Goan who grew up in Portugal and has done a lot of Goa-related videos for audiences around Lisbon and the Luso-world, has this listing of her “top five” street food outlets of Goa. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMSCngJouyI
What caravelas which took the spices across the globe were to the sixteenth century, the information flow in cyberspace is in today’s world. Make the most of it to find out even yet more about Goan food….
Frederick Noronha can be contacted via 9822122436 or firstname.lastname@example.org