Luso Goan Cuisine: A Traditional Blend Of India And Portugal

Portuguese and Goan cuisines are a match made in culinary heaven. The former is known for its coastal delicacies, while the latter is home to some of Asia's oldest and most traditional cuisines. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in India when Vasco da Gama reached Calicut in 1498. They later captured Goa and called it ‘Goa Dourada’ or Golden Goa. The state was a part of Portugal until 1961 when the Indian Armed Forces liberated it and made it a part of India. 

Portuguese rule saw a fusion of their native cuisine with Indian foods. It was the Portuguese who introduced red chilli, potato, tomato, baked fish, chicken dishes, salads, coconuts, and many more delicacies to Goa. The locals then picked up on these elements and blended them with their local varieties to create something truly unique – Goan cuisine.

Some common Goan recipes that you’ll see all over the state, like chicken Vindaloo, Kofta Curry, Coconut Shorba  – are absolute favourites in the state. Here are some iconic Luso-Goan dishes that you must try:  

Chicken Vindaloo  

Vindaloo is the word for a very hot, spicy curry- it is usually made with chicken or mutton. The curry is pungent and slightly sweet, and if it tastes just a bit different from what you grew up eating, then that’s a good indicator of how well it was cooked!  

The tempering of the dish is what makes it so flavorful. Vindaloo is usually made with mustard seeds, cashews, cumin seeds, and green cardamom, along with red chillies, ginger, and garlic.  

Vindaloo can be served hot with rice, roti, naan, or paratha, or at room temperature with naan. If you’re looking to eat healthier, you can also make it with prawns instead of chicken, which works well. 

Goan Fish Curry  

The Portuguese had a penchant for fish curries, which they brought over to Goa. The locals, on the other hand, were more inclined to use seafood as a source of protein. This resulted in a fusion of flavours that has now become a staple of the region. It can be served with steamed rice or roti, or as a side with roti or poori. You can also serve it with quinoa or idli. The curry is made with a paste of coconut, mustard seeds, turmeric, coriander seeds, garlic, and tamarind. Fish can be used to make this curry, but it is also enjoyed with shrimp, prawns, mackerel, and even crabs. 

Goan Kofta Curry  

Koftas are meatballs in gravy made from a mix of vegetables, Indian spices, and meat. Goan kofta curry is one of the most popular recipes in the state. It is a curry you can easily make at home and relish. You can enjoy this curry with steamed rice or roti, or as a side dish with a poori or paratha. The curry is best served piping hot, with a dollop of yoghurt, butter, or ghee.  

Mutton Fry  

Mutton fry is the perfect breakfast or evening dish that is not only delicious but also healthy. It is the brainchild of the Portuguese and Goan food fusion. The mutton is cooked with coconut, spices, onions, and green peas. It is then served with steamed rice or paratha, or as a side dish with poori or roti. The dish is best enjoyed with a cup of coffee, or when you’re feeling a little peckish. You can even enjoy this healthy dish with a glass of wine on the weekends. 

Coconut Shorba  

Coconut shorba is the perfect drink to accompany all of these fusion meals. It is prepared by blending the flesh of the grated coconut with spices, such as ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, turmeric, and cumin seeds, along with a little salt. It can be served hot or cold and is best paired with any of the above-mentioned meals. It can also be enjoyed with roti or paratha, with poori or naan, or even as a snack.  

If you want to savour any of these Luso-Goan dishes, you must make your way to Viva Panjim, a family-run restaurant in Goa’s capital that serves sorpotel and vindaloo, which can be washed down with feni. You can also visit Horseshoe, where they rustle up Luso-Goan dishes like Amêijoas à Bulhão Pato - clams cooked with white wine, and Balchão de Camarão (cooked prawns in a shrimp and coconut feni sauce).  

The fusion of cultures in the state of Goa has resulted in a unique cuisine, filled with flavours and spices that are truly unique. There are many recipes in the state that are uniquely Goan, and you can easily make them at home to add to your repertoire as a connoisseur of food. They’re easy to make, inexpensive, healthy, and add an exotic touch to your experience.