Goan Food – ambot tik
More than 400 years under the Portuguese rule, even our cuisine was influenced by it. We pop something in our mouth without so much as thinking twice about it, with only our taste buds taking control of our thoughts that moment.
What intrigued me most, was being in Bangalore and finding it hard to find ‘pao’ that wasn’t so sweet. Turns out, pao is only made in goa and Mumbai. There 3 main varieties of bread are the soft and chewy pao (cube), the crisp ‘undo’ (round) and the ‘poie’ (whole wheat pockets). Another intriguing form is known as ‘katricho pao’ (scissored bread), where dough is shaped with scissors. Then there is the kaknam (bangles), rings of crusty bread, so called because they tinkle like glass bangles when fresh out of the oven.
Dishes such as ‘racheiado’, ‘caldeirada’ and ‘cabidela’ reflect the legacy of the states colonial heritage. Caldeirada is a mildly flavoured offering in which fish or prawns are cooked in a kind of stew with vegetables, and often flavoured with wine. Racheiado is a delicious preparation in which usually a mackerel or pomfret, is slit down the center and stuffed with spicy red sauce, after which it is cooked normally.
Among the most famous goan dishes is ‘ambot tik’, a slightly sour curry dish which can be prepared with either fish or meat, but more usually fish. ‘sorpotel’ steps in next, prepared from pork, liver, heart and kidney, all of whichj are diced and cooked in a thick and spicy sauce flavoured with feni. “chauricos’ are spicy pork sausages, which owe more than a passing debt to the Portuguese culnury traditions. Yet another dish would be ‘xacuti’. It is a traditional way of preparing meat, usually chicken, by cooking it in coconut milk and adding coconut gratings and a variety of spices.we cannot forget our fish curry rice plate that youngsters so eagerly rush to have and is a staple diet followed by almost every goan. These are just few of the lip-smacking goan dishes.
We goans are very fond of/ cannot do without our drinks. ‘feni’ is a drink which deserves respect. There are two types of feni. Coconut or palm feni is made from the sap drawn from the severed shoots of he coconut tree. In goa this is known as toddy. It is available year round. Cashew feni can only be made during the cashew season in late march and early april. The first distillation is called ‘uraq’, a pleasant and reasonably alcoholic drink. It is distilled again to prepare feni which has a higher alcoholic content. But it is advised not to drink it on an empty stomach and mix with other spirits and certainly don’t swim after a couple of fenis. But the best you will hear is ‘you don’t realise how strong it is until you get up’
After the main course, it is but customary to move onto dessert. Goa’s most famous sweetmeat is bebinca, a wonderful concoction made from layer upon layer of coconut pancakes. Cooking perfect bebinca is an art form, for the cook has to be timed just right to ensure that all layers are cooked equally. ‘dodol’ is another famous goan sweet, traditionally eaten at Christmas time and made with rice flour, coconut milk, jiggery and cashew nuts. ‘doce’, made with chickpeas and coconut is another favourite, a tradition that it be made for every Christian wedding.
If all this hasn’t made your stomach groan in hunger and want, we don’t know what will. All we know for sure is that by the end of your very own goan meal, you’ll be licking off your fingers.
Goan meals taste best went prepared by goans, but here are a few recipes if you feel in the experimental mood: