Viva São João: Traditional Dishes To Relish In Goa's Catholic Festival

On June 24th each year, the state of Goa and its many Catholic communities come together with great fervour to pay their tribute to Saint John the Baptist – known as a relative of the mother of Jesus. Coinciding with the beginning of the monsoons in the sunny state, water bodies brimming with fresh rain water give locals a reason to jump in and have a great time. Like most other celebrations, music and food form central features of the Viva São João festival – with some villages even cooking to feed hordes of people who’re looking to have a great time. Although a large aspect of Goan cuisine is associated with the rava fry and fish curries, this festive time enables locals to let their culinary heritage shine in all its glory. With a delightful mix of Portuguese and Hindu influences, the food is nutritious, tasty and also satisfying.

Ponsache Holle

These steamed cakes, made using the pouring of a rice flour based batter into jackfruit leaves, is a sweet delicacy that is one of the many traditional dishes that is eaten during the festival. Made using a paste of parboiled rice and jaggery, fresh coconut is also added to the mixture before it is smeared into the conical leaf container and cooked until soft and fluffy. The holle are served alongside an assortment of fresh fruits like bananas and mangoes.


Sanna – or the steamed rice cakes made using toddy and coconut – offers its mellow sweetness as a complement to the fiery pork sorpotel that packs heat. This classic combination, which is relished with enthusiasm – is typically enjoyed as a meal after traditional song and dance.

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Choriz Pao

For those who are constantly on their feet throughout the merry-making, the choriz pao becomes a handy snack to fuel in-between all the dancing. Spicy Goan chorizo sausage is cooked with onions for a sweet and spicy contrast of flavour and stuffed into freshly baked pao. The oils from the sausage permeate the bread, enhancing its texture and richness.


The Indo-Portuguese layered delicacy of Goa – the bebinca is a distinctively quintessential sweet treat that is enjoyed all year round. Dense and fudgy in texture, with pronounced caramel notes and richness from the use of ghee, the multi-layered dessert is also relished for most festive occasions in the beach state.


Considered to be a delicacy for the monsoon season, the patoleo is a steamed parcel made with a rice flour based dough, encasing a coconut-jaggery mixture and wrapped in turmeric leaves. One of the main sweet attractions of the Catholic festival, the patoleo gets its distinct aroma from the turmeric leaves which are said to be in season during the monsoon.