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The Goa Specialists
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Goa is a land of crafts and craftsmen, where aesthetic quality finds a natural expression. Goa has a rich and magnificent tradition of the classical arts. Over the years, Goans have excelled in poetry, music and the fine arts.

Goa is a land of crafts and craftsmen, where aesthetic quality finds a natural expression. Goa has a rich and magnificent tradition of the classical arts. Over the years, Goans have excelled in poetry, music and the fine arts.

The folk paintings of Goa have been traced to different places from ancient temples, churches and palatial manors to humble households. They mostly depict episodes from the epics - the Mahabharata and the Ramayana and the Puranas and also scenes from the New Testament.

During the Portuguese colonisation, local craftsmen played a major role in the development of the exquisite furnishings and decorations used in residential houses, churches and chapels. This art can still be seen the Christian Art Museum at Old Goa.

Goans have contributed greatly to the world of music. Many famous names on the Indian music scene originate from Goa. Famous singers such as Lata Mangueshkar and Kishori Amonkar in the classical variety and Remo Fernandes in pop music, are from Goa.

Konkani literature has produced many great names such as Bakibab Borkar who have contributed to the development of Konkani as a national language with some superlative writing. Local craftsmen in Goa produce a wide variety of crafts ranging from terracotta pottery and figures to superb brass lamps and decorative items.

A large number of Goans have also played a major role in drama and Hindi film industry in the neighbouring state of Maharashtra.

Goa's isolation from the rest of India for more than four centuries under the Portuguese rule, its geographical borders in the form of the Sahyadri ranges and the tidal rivers have managed to give the people of Goa a unique and separate identity.

The people of Goa prefer to call themselves Goans and not Goanese as mentioned in guidebooks and brochures. Goans are very much aware of this unique identity; they are proud of it and guard it fiercely.

The population of Goa is composed of a Hindu majority of around 65% and a Christian minority of around 30%. Muslims and other religions make up the rest. The interesting part in all these percentages is that, as is the case with most statistical figures, they conceal more than they can ever reveal.

The Hindu community is dominant in the talukas (districts) of Ponda, Bicholim, Pernem, Satari, Sanguem, Quepem and Canacona. These areas actually form part of the Novas Conquistas, or the New Conquests, made by the Portuguese in the last stage of the expansion of their Goan empire in the eighteenth century.

By this time, the Portuguese military might was on the wane and the religious ardour for forced conversions was at its lowest ebb. Hence the population in these newly conquered areas were pretty much left to practise their religion in peace.

The Old Conquests on the other hand, consisting of Salcete, Mormugao, Tiswadi and Bardez bore the brunt of the Portuguese army and the religious zealots. Together, the two arms of the Portuguese empire, managed to destroy temples and converted hundreds of non-Christians in these areas, which are predominantly Christian today. Fortunately, these bitter memories of the past have done nothing to change the warm, friendly and loving nature of the Goan people. By and large, the Goan considers himself a Goan first and a Hindu, Christian or Muslim afterwards. The bonds of language and the Goan identity are strong enough to allow for different religious persuasions.

In contrast to other parts of India, Goans have developed a remarkable degree of tolerance towards each other's religious beliefs, and hence religious fundamentalism is completely unknown in the state.

The best evidence of this is seen in quite a few places of worship in Goa, where both Hindus and Christians go together. The Damodar temple at Sanguem, the Church of Our Lady of Miracles in Mapusa, the Shantadurga temple at Fatorpa are excellent examples of this unique religious harmony that exists in Goa. Besides these, a number of other festivals in Goa are celebrated by members of both communities with equal fervour. In proportion to their numbers, a very high percentage of Goans live abroad than the members of most other regional communities of India. But no matter where they might be on the surface of the planet, Goans love to express the adoration of their homeland in some form or the other.

Goa is a state of mind. And to most Goans, this is best expressed in the lines of the Konkani poem penned by the eminent Goan poet B. B. (Bakibab) Borkar:

AN INTRODUCTION

The cuisine of Goa has an interesting mix of influences from all the cultures that it came into contact with. There are two separate traditions in cuisine influenced by the respective religions of Hinduism and Christianity; there are some meeting points that present interesting harmony. One of the most popular dishes, the pork Vindaloo is a result of this beautiful harmony. The Portuguese cooking has a strong and telling influence on Goan Cuisine and that should not be forgotten. Goan food is simple but one has to bear in mind that most, though not all, of it is chili hot, spicy, and pungent.

INFLUENCES IN CUISINE

Over hundred-kilometer long coastline along the Arabian Sea Goa influences the culture and lifestyle of the people in a big way. It is not to say that food is also a part of this influence. A typical Goan would prefer seafood to all other meats and would use a lot of coconut for cooking. Being on the Konkan coast means that the Goan cuisine shares the spices grown in the region with the other states on the coast like Maharashtra and Kerala. It has also drawn a lot from the various communities that inhabited it at various times.

The Hindu and the Christian communities of Goa have their own specialties. There are other divisions like the Brahmin and non-Brahmin, both Hindu and Christian, which all offer culinary variations to the originals. Some of the lesser-known but equally important influences on the Goan cuisine are the Kashmiri, Muslim and Portuguese and African, apart from the tribals who lived in the dense, rain-drenched forests of ancient Goa.

STAPLES

Rice, fish, and coconut are the basic components of the typical Goan food platter. Delicacies made from these three items can be expected in nearly every Goan meal. Besotted with seafood, the Goans find truly world-class prawns, lobsters, crabs, and jumbo pomfrets along the coastline and use them to make a variety of soups, salads, pickles, curries, and fries. An essential ingredient in Goan cooking is coconut milk made by grating the white flesh of a coconut and soaking it in a cup of warm water. Equally important is the ‘kokum’, a sour, deep red colored fruit that gives it a sharp and sour flavor. The famous red Goan chilies are also a must for most dishes, as is tamarind. Goans make their own version of vinegar from toddy. Then there are innumerable chutneys that are typical of the state. Goa is not particularly known for its vegetarian dishes. While Hindus like lamb and chicken, Christians prefer pork. However, both prefer fish and seafood to any other meat.

METHODS

Traditional Goan cooking calls for plenty of muscle and time. Grinding is always part of the recipe and the nicer the dish the longer it takes to make. Although the styles of the various communities, past and present, have had their effect on each other, the gravies of each style are at a complete variance. The names used are the same, as are the ingredients used, for making a delicacy, yet their aroma, flavor, taste, texture, and color can be completely different. Subtle differences in ingredients or their use make the outcome of these similar recipes so different. The Christians prefer to use vinegar, while the Hindus use kokum and tamarind to get the tang in their respective cuisines. The northerners of Goa grind their coconuts and masalas (spices) individually while the southern Goans like to grind them together, and then pass it through a fine muslin cloth to retain the goodness. Many times people vary the pork to mutton and chicken to make the various curries. Although coconut is an essential part of the everyday cooking, there is no coconut in several of the popular delicacies like rissois de camarao, sopa grossa, balchao and vindaloo, and that wedding favourite, caldo. And, naturally, when sardines are cooked with tomato puree and olive oil in the Portuguese manner, coconut is absent.

Souza Lobo's in Calangute (Goa) Set in an authentic goan house right on the beach. One can even dance to the live music on the portico or eat at the tables on the beach. Excellent sea food. A shack ambience with the warmth of a home

Venice Gardens in Madgaon (Goa) This is where a lot of the locals eat. Sea food is the freshest I could find. The tongue is great. Set in an open backyard garden, its a slice of different.

Jackris bakery in Madgaon (Goa) Located in the madgaon market. Its almost a hole in the wall. You have to try their meat puffs & prawn cakes. Then u will keep returning for more.

chorizo from mapusa market (Goa) If u r looking for fresh chorizon (goan version of portuguese sausage) the best place to pick it up is stall no. 4 in Mapusa market. Its fresh & tasty.

wines to carry home Pedro Vincent Vaz in Mapusa market is this comfy shop scatterred with antiques. You can get every brand of goan port wine & other alcohol here. Carry home one of the old monk rum bottles shaped as a monk (only available in Goa) as a souvenier

Infantaria in Calangute (Goa) One of the better places to have breakfast while in Goa. They have a buffet system for breakfast too. Its been in place for longer than the 15 years I've been holidaying in Goa

Florentine near Anjona (Goa) Their Chicken Cafreal is exported to Bombay during wedding season. Its that famous. Don't go expecting a fancy restaurant. Its a kitchen with some tables attached. Just have the Chicken Cafreal & the Goa bread. Hearty soul food.

Longhinos at Madgaon (Goa) The food isnt all that great but the setting is excellent. If u want to get a feel of what kind of life the portuguese lived & how they ate, then this is a good place to halt for a bite & peruse your guide book while you are there.

Goan home (Goa) There's nothing to beat being invited to a Goan home to bask in the hospitality of the locals. They will buy the freshest fish & vegetables and put together a meal that just goes so well together. It will leave you feeling totally sosegad.



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