In the mood to try out a new Goan dish but don’t know how? Plenty of groups devoted to Goan cuisine have sprung up on social media that will give you the much needed inspiration. NT BUZZ highlights a few popular ones
CHRISTINE MACHADO | NT BUZZ
Think Goan food and the first dishes that come to mind (accompanied by a lot of mouth watering of course) are usually the evergreen fish curry rice, the tangy sorpotel, the spice laden xacuti among others. But these popular names apart, there’s much more to Goan cuisine, dishes from grandmother’s kitchens passed on from generation to generation. Some of these recipes remain only within the family, while some have come to dwell only in dust-laden hand-written recipe books.
But amidst the many choices of cuisines that one can experiment with today, are people who are striving hard to keep the traditional flavor of Goan food alive, not just in restaurants or recipe books but also via the internet. In fact a number of food groups devoted to Goan cuisine have sprung up on social media, with members from all over the world.
Traditional Goan Foodies
Around four years ago, determined to rekindle his love for Goan food and also introduce his daughter to the taste of home, David D’Souza began cooking some of his Goan favorites back in Toronto where he is based.
In order to learn some more preparations, D’Souza joined a few Goan food groups on Facebook, but was not satisfied with the content. To set this right, with a few pals he decided to start a group – Traditional Goan Foodies. Today, the group has over 160,000 members and these numbers are only growing, making the group monitoring a constant task.
The bounty of Goan dishes that have found their way on to the group has taken many by surprise including D’Souza himself. “For me, the biggest eye opener has been the depth of our Goan Hindu cuisine. The Goan Catholic menu pales in comparison to the amount of dishes and variations that comprise the Goan Hindu menu,” he states. Interestingly, he had also observed that dishes tend to differ between North and South Goa.
“Some are done in the North and not so much in the South, and vice versa. Some dishes could have different names, with cultural variations,” he says. Having grown up amidst the Catholic variations of dishes, D’Souza, with the help of recipes shared on the group has now begun to experiment with Hindu variations of dishes like shagoti (xacuti), dangar (cutlets), mangane (vonn/soji) etc.
And while they like to keep things old school in terms of their food preparations, they accept that change is inevitable to save time or make them healthier.
The many recipes, shared on the group (over 3500, according to D’Souza) have also been added to menus by caterers and home tiffin providers. The group also does share information about food hubs serving up delicious Goan food. But D’Souza admits that while Goa of course has plenty of restaurants doling up a wonderful array of Goan food, these are usually just the top 20 favorites. D’Souza accepts that restaurants have to do this as they cater to what the clients want. “What I’d love to see happen though is maybe a ‘special’ menu featuring seasonal items. This could be something as simple as featuring seasonal delicacies like mushrooms (almi), tender cashew (bibe) or Konge (snails) etc., so that folks get introduced to something different,” he says.
Authentic Goan cuisine
With over 30 years of experience in the catering industry and being exposed to various types of cuisine, Alves Fernandes still loves his Goan food the most. To share this love, Fernandes first began his blog dedicated to Goan cuisine – Deliciousmemorieswithalves. “Most of my recipes are handed down from the older generations in my family especially my grandma,” he says.
He then together with a few others (Dulce Fernandes, Regina Travasso Monterio, Faith Barretto, Ashney X Rebello and Viola Saldanha) went on to create the group Authentic Goan cuisine in April 2017. Today, the group has close to 30,000 members. It has also brought to light a number of other food bloggers devoted to Goan food. Some of which have impressed Alves especially are Xantilicious by Xanti Pinto, Celebration In My Kitchen by Jessie D’Souza and Goan Food Recipes by Clyde Fernandes among many others. “There are many more that have their own Facebook page that are contributing towards Goan cuisine,” says Fernandes. “Thanks to all this, our ancestral recipes are being catalogued and saved. That doesn’t however mean we have unearthed all the recipes, there are many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered and documented.”
With over 97,000 members, Goan Foodomania was started over three years ago by Ashwini K Tendulkar with Prasad Raicar, Brijesh Naik and Natasha Desai Lawande as co-admins. “I always wanted to bring together food lovers on one platform where they could share their dishes and bring to fore Goan dishes that are forgotten,” says Tendulkar, who was in for a surprise when over 2000 people joined her group within a day.
And she admits that although she prided herself on being well versed with Goan cuisine, the extent of it astounded her. “When our elders started posting dishes they learnt from their grandmothers, not only did I come across some old almost forgotten dishes, but also news ways to make different dishes. I hope to keep learning about them,” she says.
Although the group doesn’t stress on posting only on Goan cuisine, she admits that it is heart-warming to see many young people willing to try traditional recipes posted here. “Many mothers also try to get innovative and give a makeover to traditional recipes to cater to fussy kids,” says Tendulkar who is also a home baker and runs a saree business.
Besides sharing of recipes, the group has also conducted workshops for budding entrepreneurs on packaging, marketing, licences, etc and organised ‘Purument’ and ‘Chavath’ bazaars for home-based Goan women entrepreneurs.
Goenchem Randop Amchem Randop
A travel agent by profession, Herman Vaz (based in UK) recalls learning to cook when he was a kid, including sitting on the grinding stone to make the curry paste. This love for cooking stayed with him and Vaz went on to start his own blog Cook with Herman. Further he started the group Goenchem Randop Amchem Randop on Facebook, with his cousin. The group presently has around 3000 members. And Vaz acknowledges that monitoring the group can be a bit trying at times.
As for the choice of Goan dishes in restaurants, Vaz states that perhaps for religious reasons, they tend to shy away from quite a few traditional Goan dishes. “It’s hard to find a good pork roast, booch, cabidel, or even a good beef roast and sorpotel and sanna anywhere in North Goa,” he says. “Also while we have such a varied repertoire of Goan desserts, we hardly have any of these featured in menus.”