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Serving up Goan kitchen secrets

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NT BUZZ looks at a few cooking enthusiasts who are simplifying the joys of Goan cooking one video tutorial at a time

CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ

Everybody loves good food. But not everyone is a whiz at serving up deliciousness.

But if you’re a novice at all things kitchen, or are just seeking to expand your cooking repertoire, things have never been easier today. You no longer need to pester your family chef in the making or chase down that friend that loves cooking to teach you the works. The internet not only serves up a variety of recipes to choose from, but chefs and cooking enthusiasts from the world over are also sharing step by step video tutorials on how to create various dishes be it Indian, Italian, Greek, etc.

Goan food lovers also need not despair as there are cooking tutorials aplenty to help you ace that pork vindaloo, prawn balchao, sannas, and more.

Fatima’s Cuisine

In fact, it was while watching cooking videos on YouTube that Fatima Lavina Fernandes came up with the idea of making videos of Goan recipes. Born and brought up in Goa, the homemaker who now lives in Adelaide, Australia, learned the art of cooking from her mother as a child.

“My guide was my mother for sure as she is a wonderful cook and has always been my biggest inspiration. Now, whenever I meet her, I still like to be with her at her favourite place which is the kitchen,” says Fernandes.

Six years since she put together her first video on YouTube, today Fernandes is a household name in Goan cooking.

“To be honest, I never imagined that I would gain 62 thousand plus subscribers and more than 10 million views, but because of the confidence I have in my cooking skills, and the easy and tasty recipes that I create, I had a feeling that I could attain success,” she says.

And along the way, people have also shared their own insights and variations of her recipes with her. “I find it very interesting to know that the same dish can be prepared in many different ways; one such interesting learning was to know how to make sannas when toddy isn’t available,” she reveals.

Her viewers have also encouraged her to publish her own recipe book which she hopes to do at some point.

Her YouTube channel, Fatima’s Cuisine also fetched her an invite to participate in India’s Digital Chef, a cooking reality show by One Digital Entertainment in Mumbai. “I also receive collaboration offers which are basically from India,” she says, adding that she is fortunate to be able to do what she loves doing, ie sharing her love for Goan food with people all over the world. “Even though Goan cuisine has many flavourful delicacies, I feel that it has not received the recognition it deserves,” she says. “My YouTube channel is my small contribution and an attempt towards introducing Goan food to the wider community globally.”

Andrea M D’Souza’s Kitchen

Andrea M D’Souza also first learned the secrets of cooking from her mother. “My father too was extremely good in the kitchen and he’d keep recalling the mouth-watering Goan fish and meat dishes, and sweets that his mother used to cook – and with his help, I learned to cook those dishes too,” she smiles. Her other family members only helped expand her repertoire of Goan food, while her friends and neighbours taught her other cuisines like Gujarati, Maharashtrian, Bengali and Parsi food.

The push to create cooking tutorials on YouTube however came from some of her colleagues.

“Each time I’d cook and take something to work, they’d ask me how I made it and urge me to start a blog with pictures so that it would be easier for them to learn it too,” says the Mumbai-based school teacher, adding that while she did initially start off with a blog, she realised that it was easier for people to understand with the help of videos. The idea of showcasing Goan food on her channel came from her dad. “He told me there are so many delicious Goan dishes that people have not heard of  and to introduce them to it. So that’s what I set out to do!” she says.

While posting that first video three years ago, she was filled with feelings of apprehension. “I was nervous. I kept making and deleting the video, wondering if the dish looked okay or if I sounded alright or if I was giving the correct instruction. . Today her channel, Andrea M D’Souza’s Kitchen has over 16.5 K subscribers, with some of her videos fetching over 50K views. “At times when I’m overloaded with work and unable to stick to my plan, my brother Aaron, who is an excellent cook too, helps me out by making the tutorial videos for my channel.”

Along the way she has also learned from her viewers who sometimes share their own cooking tips with her. “For prawn balchao, one of my viewers advised me to try adding our Goa jaggery instead of sugar,”  she says. Another tip that she learned was to tear the curry leaves, with hand, before adding them to hot oil, instead of adding the full leaf, as tearing brings out the flavour.

“Many new cooks say that cooking has become easier for them after they have started following my channel,” she says. But the best kind of feedback, she says, is when people message her saying that when they cook with her recipes, the taste and smell reminds them of their childhood and their mothers and grandmothers. “Their nostalgia makes me nostalgic about my childhood too,” she says, adding that she hopes to come out with a book compilation of her recipes and her experiences of working on them. She is also considering doing cookery classes.

“As people have been so generous to share their family secrets with me, I too wanted to repay their kindness and share my recipes with all those who are interested in learning to cook tasty food,” she says.

Florency Dias

Florency Dias also believes in the importance of sharing. “As a homemaker, I want to be able to be of help to my community. Another reason I don’t refrain from sharing my recipes is to popularise the preparation of the already famous Goan food. I believe that as a community we must promote it further. Goans are inherently generous — my channel (Florency Dias) runs by that ideology!” she says.

Dias who hails from Varca but resides in Mumbai, in fact began first with a blog, before she moved to starting her own YouTube channel. “The Goan cuisine has delighted palates young and old, at home and beyond, not only because of the manner in which we Goans use local, natural ingredients within our delicacies, but also because of the versatility brought in by our willingness to embrace external influence while maintaining our roots. I want to showcase this flexibility of our delicacies, born out of tradition, to ease them into our modern lifestyle,” she says, adding that there is a joy in being able to recreate age-old dishes and a thrill in invention, and cooking allows her to experience both each day.

Six months since she began her channel, she has over 8.5K subscribers, and the great feedback keeps her going. “When the viewership of my video on the Goan pinagr surged, I saw a large number of comments about how the recipe caused them to reminisce about the ‘good ol’’ days. That is sufficient evidence that food isn’t for the belly alone, but the mind too,” she says, adding that through her channel she has also gotten the opportunity to know people from around the globe and understand the reception that Goan food has.

And according to her the fact that Goan cuisine is greatly influenced by the Portuguese has given it a distinction across the country. “But we must support each other as a community to promote it. That said, we must remember that our cuisine is only a part of us,” she says. “A culture and its multiple wonders can be brought to greater glory only when its members are aware and knowledgeable about it. So, I believe we ought to learn so that we can live it and teach it; the recognition will continue to follow.”

Simply Delicious

Another relatively new channel on the block is Simply Delicious started by husband-wife duo Movin and Shainy Fernandes from Ponda (now settled in UK), about seven months ago. “We used to post our day-to-day photos of dishes on social media and in food groups like Traditional Goan Foodies, Authentic Goan Cuisine, etc, and people used to appreciate us,” recalls Movin, who is a pastry chef by profession while Shainy is a nurse.

However, upon a friend’s suggestion, Shainy was first encouraged to take part in an online cooking competition on YouTube. Post that they began toying with the idea of starting a cooking channel on YouTube. “Since it was lockdown it was a good opportunity to do something different, so we just started,” says Movin.

While their main focus is Goan cuisine, they also cover some Indian dishes on their channel. Interestingly, they also give their own fusion spin to Goan food like four different pizzas on Goan poee, Goan style wraps, etc. “We also give our tips and tricks and substitutes of ingredients for those who do not find ingredients staying abroad,” says Movin. For instance they have demonstrated how to make patoleos without turmeric leaves by using turmeric roots which is easily available abroad. “In this way, even if you are abroad you can keep our Goan tradition alive,” he says.

While grateful for the support of family, friends and various social media pages on Goan food, the couple also encourage others to use social media platforms to share their abilities with the world. And they hope that through their channel they can broaden the reach of traditional Goan cuisine.

“Today, the young generation is fond of fast food and an easy lifestyle. They are unaware about our traditional food,” says Movin. “Keeping in mind the authenticity of Goan food through our channel, we want the future generation to know about Goan food and preserve our Goan culture.”