When people dream of a holiday in the sun and book their flights to Goa, they may not realise that they are in for a culinary treat. Holidaymakers don’t always put food at the top of their reasons for choosing Goa, but they should, because the aromatic flavours are really special. One of the best things about chilling out on a Goan beach is the abundance of beach shacks selling tasty snacks such as prawn balchao and refreshing mango lassi.
Goa is the smallest state in India and its national cuisine has developed out of its fascinating cultural influences. There’s a great variety of accommodation in Goa, but of the most atmospheric places to stay is in traditional beach shack accommodation on Colva beach or Calangute beach . This way you feel at one with the warm golden sands and the lapping waves, tasting the same Goan delicacies that have been enjoyed by the locals since time immemorial. Having been a Portuguese colony since the 16th century, the food has evolved as an exotic mix of East and West and Goa is known for its curried dishes and fresh fish.
One of the many mouthwatering dishes you just have to taste in Goa is Xacuti – made by cooking chicken in a heady mixture of chillies, coconut and lots of different spices. If you like your curries hot, you must try the Goan pork vindaloo which gets its fiery kick from marinating the meat in chillies and vinegar before cooking.
Another classic Goan dish is Sorpotel – a kind of spicy gravy made from finely chopped pork, liver and chillies, garlic, ginger, tamarind and other spices. And don’t miss the Souraca sauce, made from coconut milk flavoured with garlic, tamarind, chillies and onions, which is eaten with rice. There’s also a wide variety of aromatic vegetarian dishes, chutneys and pickles.
Seafood and snacks
You’ll find an abundance of seafood such as crab, prawn, lobster, clams and pomfret. They can be simply fried or turned into an elaborate dish such as the sour and spicy Ambot Tik fish curry. Prawn balchao is made by pickling prawns in a hot spicy mix. You can wash this down with a cool refreshing mango lassi. Made from fresh mangoes and yoghurt, crushed ice and sugar, and flavoured with saffron and cardamom, it’s very refreshing.
Eating out can be very cheap in Goa and the resorts, such as Calangute, Candolim, Baga and Panaji, have many great Oriental, Indian, French and Italian restaurants. Also, on the beachfront there are some excellent beach shack restaurants serving genuine Goan cuisine. Just check the reviews to find the best.
Planning your trip
It’s a good idea to book flights to Goa outside the main tourist season as it can get very busy. However, you can find peace and quiet if you go to the more serene and beautiful beaches of Benaulim, Ashwem, Colva and Palolem. Here you can chill out to your heart’s content, listening to the whispering palm trees and energising your tastebuds with spicy Goan food and drink.