Exploring the Flavours of Goa

Goan cuisine is a product of varied influences. If one wants a broad description, then one can say that Goan cuisine is an amalgamation of Indian and Portuguese culinary traditions. Of course, the state’s geographical characteristic has also influenced its cuisine.

The Portuguese introduced Goan people to potato, tomato, pineapple, guava and cashew. But their most significant contribution in Goa’s gastronomic legacy is the introduction of the spicy Peri-Peri chilli, which is the most important part of Goan spices.

Some of the essential elements of Goan cuisine are rice, sea food, coconut, meat, pork and local spices. In fact, without fish, dinning at a Goan home doesn’t have a ring of completeness.

Rice and fish curry is the staple diet among most Goans. Kingfish (Vison or Visvan) is the most common delicacy. Other fish used in Goan cuisine include pomfret, shark, tuna and mackerel. Crabs, prawns, lobster, squid and mussels are also used in Goan cuisine.

Goans like to have an array of culinary specialties ranging from prawns to sausages, chicken to beef, and of course, several vegetarian dishes.

Use of kokum in food is another distinct feature of Goan cuisine. The intense flavour of spices used in Goan cuisine is in sync with the state’s tropical climate.

While taste is important to Goans, the presentation of the food too is of significant importance for them as they like to share their food, especially during feasts, with friends and extended family.

In Goa, the locals still use clay pots on firewood for cooking and it endows with a smoky flavour to their traditional dishes.


Signature Dishes of Goan Cuisine


Goa's most famous sweet is a multi-layered pudding known as Bebinca, which is made from egg, coconut milk, sugar and ghee. The dish has Portuguese influence. 

Cooking a perfect bebinca is no less than an art as it requires a lot of patience and technique in its preparation. The next layer of bebinca can only be added once the previous layer has been cooked.

Each layer is cooked in the oven until it has a light fudge consistency. Bebinca can be eaten hot or cold and is traditionally served on Christmas.

Ambot Tik

In Konkani, ‘ambot’ means sour and ‘tik’ means spicy. As the name suggests, the dish is slightly sour and pungent. It is a delicious gravy dish that is usually prepared with dried red chillies, peppercorns and tamarind. The fish used in the dish is generally shark or catfish and it is usually served with plain steamed or boiled rice.

Crab Xec Xec

It comprises a thick coconut gravy dish. It is a specialty which is usually served with rice or bread. This curry is made with grounded coconut, coriander and dry mixed roasted spices, which are added to crab meat.

Fish Curry Rice

It is the staple food for Goans. The curry is usually yellowish-red in colour due to the presence of chillies and turmeric. The tangy and spicy dish can be cooked with a variety of fish, although mackerel is one of the favourites. The dish is served with steamed white rice.

 Chicken Cafreal

This spicy chicken dish uses coriander, lime, green chillies, peppercorns, and mint. It can be cooked in oven or pan roasted. The origin of the dish can be traced from Africa. The delectable dish is usually accompanied by green salad.

Goan Feni

Feni is a very popular alcoholic beverage from Goa; it is characterised by strong aroma. The word ‘feni’ derives from the word ‘fenn’, which means froth. In fact, a good feni, when poured in a glass produces some froth.

There are two types of feni; one is made from coconut and the other is made from cashew. Coconut feni is less popular and is made from the sap of coconut palms. Cashew feni is made from cashew apples, which are manually crushed and allowed to ferment.

Traditionally, there are three grades of this famous Goan brew. Urrac is the product of first distillation, Cazulo is the product of second and Feni is the product of third distillation.


This dish is of Portuguese origin. It is a rich stew which is made from pork meat although sometimes the pig’s liver, heart and kidney are also added. Sometimes beef, mutton or chicken is also used.

Preparing sorpotel is a long procedure; first the meat is parboiled, finely diced, fried and then cooked in spices and vinegar. Sorpotel usually tastes better on the second and third day from its preparation, that is once it has had time to mature.


A popular spicy curry where the name is derived from the Portuguese term for garlic and wine (“vinho e alho”) marinade. Pork vindaloo is a delicacy of the Goan cuisine. 

Mackerel Reacheado

This dish is prepared by slicing a cross-section of the fish and it is stuffed with red hot chili masala called ‘reacheado’. Reacheado is made from red chillies, spices, ginger, garlic and ground with malt vinegar. The fish is then pan-fried.


It is made by mixing white, fluffy bread that is made of coconut and finely ground rice flour with toddy, and then by fermenting and steaming it. Sanna is usually served at parties and special occasions and can be eaten with most curries, especially sorpotel, or simply with a cup of Indian tea.

Goan Sausages

These sausages are made from pork meat and fat, which have been loosely diced. The strings of sausages are marinated in pickling spices and then sun dried. They are usually served with pulao rice or with bread. These sausages are very popular at feasts.

Fish Udid Methi or Uddamethi

It is a type of curry consisting of fenugreek and mackerel. A vegetarian version of this dish is also prepared using hog plums or anything sour and tangy such as pieces of raw mango and fenugreek.

Canja de Galinha

 A type of chicken broth served with rice and chicken.

Samarein Chi Kodi

 Goan curry made with fresh and dried prawns.

Patoleo or Patoli

A dish of turmeric leaves stuffed with rice, dal, jaggery, and coconut.


 A type of side dish normally consisting of dried fish (mostly mackerel or shrimp), onions and coconut.


 Beef cutlets and beef potato chops that are common snacks.

Bhaji or Shak

 A dish made of different vegetables and fruits.

Arroz Doce

 A Portuguese derivative of kheer (sweetened rice)


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